At length because the hotel brings up some difficult hotel consumer issues related to Los Angeles in general . . .
This will recommend the Portofino for those looking for a seaside related and slightly upscale stay in this southern part of regional Los Angeles – but with a few cautions that, in our case, were mitigated by a professional and thoughtful onsite staff. Our stay here was not without problems, a couple created by the location and layout of the property, and one which seems to be caused by a disconnect between its reservations mechanism and website marketing.
That one needs to be seen in the context of trying to get an accurate and reliable fix on costs and other issues when trying to book better than Days Inn hotel rooms in the Los Angeles area. We are used to staying in the vicinity of Ocean Avenue, Santa Monica. But every hotel we looked at this time, including a couple that we’ve used in the past, seemed to have some hidden resort or similar fee that you had to really look hard to find, or read a review that mentioned it. Prices given were never the full price. And what seems to be a separate valet parking economy in LA presents other unknowns and problems, more about that below.
I found the Portofino website to be fairly open about actual costs, one of the reasons we chose it for a four night stay. But the reservation I made on their website for a special package was confirmed back to me on email at a higher price. Each of three times I tried to get a confirmation that matched the promised lower package price on the hotel’s website I was told that it would be corrected, but it was not. The fourth time resolved the issue with the correct price and further adjustment on my credit card bill. My experience with two front desk and front office staff who persisted in trying to solve the problem convinces me that this was not an evil attempt by the hotel to deceive a guest, but a conflict between their (outsourced?) reservations/billing system which seemed not to accept input from the real people who interacted with the guests. In that light, I suggest that you be vigilant in booking the hotel and not be hesitant to seek a correction when necessary. The problem was nicely solved in our case, but took up too much of my energy.
Other problems are inherent in the geography of the hotel, both of which could be easily solved but probably with a loss of a chunk of revenue. I’ve added pictures of the website’s representation of the Marina side room I thought I booked from the website, and the actual room we were given on the first night. It was not open, airy, bright and large enough with a view of bobbing boat masts, but small and dark, with a view of a small palm tree that was intended to block the view of the valet parking lot, an old pickup truck, and the pipes and stacks of a power generating plant that has been an environmental and aesthetic problem in Redondo Beach for a number of years. Efforts to have it torn down have not been successful.
Be advised: all of the first floor and some of the second floor Marina View rooms will have only a view of parked cars, the hotel’s (very good but closed MonTue) restaurant and constant traffic of cars and delivery trucks hidden in some cases by low palm trees (which might account for the description of these rooms on some website pages as Marina and Landscape View rooms). They are charged at the same rate as the higher actual view rooms and should be at a much lower price point. When we booked a month in advance we were asked whether we wanted a low or high floor Marina room, chose high, but were told at initial check in that it had only been a suggestion that the hotel was not bound to honor. Once again, we had to assert our expectation that we would receive what was promised on the website, and once again it was met with a gracious and generous response by other onsite staff, this time fully realized with a move to an ocean side king room. That response and the room we moved to are two reasons that I will recommend the hotel if it fits your needs in other respects, and will return if we return to LA.
But if you drive there (it is a very long walk from any major thoroughfare, and the nearest non-hotel restaurant is even further away) you will need to deal with the valet parking dilemma that seems to have infected Los Angeles hotels and restaurants, and which was part of the reason we didn’t book any of the Santa Monica hotels. First off, if you’re driving a rental car you have most likely initialed an agreement that no one else would drive the car, which might seem like a petty concern in this case – until the car is damaged or made liable by the valet and that will become a finger pointing insurance mess involving a fourth party American corporation with which you have signed a contract.
At Portofino, the valet parking lot we saw outside our first room is an easy walk from the hotel’s front door though not available to its guests unless they pay a premium and tips to have someone else drive the car maybe 50-150 feet away. That premium is over and above the 35.00 per night fee for self-parking which may have to be the equivalent of a block and half walk from the hotel entrance. If your wife, for example, can’t walk that length with you and you want to pick her up at the front door of the hotel you have to enter the heavily stanchion controlled valet area where, as happened in my case, the valet attendant told me that I could not wait there for her and that I would have to move back down toward the self-parking area. As my wife tried to catch up with me in a long walk, one of the many delivery trucks in this space hung on my back bumper, trying to get me to move along. Nothing about that was acceptable.
I can think of no good reason, other than hotel revenue, for this kind of valet parking into a lot right next to the front door and which I never saw fully used, while trying to find a reasonably distant self-parking slot was sometimes a challenge. But it seems to be a Los Angeles sickness; one of the reasons I did not book a Santa Monica hotel was because they seemed to be valet parking or not at all, unless you wanted to find an empty parking metered slot somewhere in the neighborhood, and good luck with that.
All that said, I recommend this hotel if it otherwise fits your needs and you pay attention to billing. I picked up a sense that it is aware of the Marina View problem for guests that won’t put up with it, a problem for them to solve and perhaps this review will help in some small way. The valet parking thing seems to this east coast person a particular kind of west coast cancer that will be more complicated to cure (talk to the manager of the nearby Cheesecake Factory restaurant about the valet parking in his lot; it, too, is complicated). The hotel itself is handsome and well kept, the location is different and interesting, and the people I dealt with for the most part were thoughtful, professional and responsive as I struggled with the above. I hope they all succeed.