Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay Rating: 4.0 Pearls
Monterey, California, United States

Oyster Review Summary

Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators

Pros

  • Central location in the heart of Downtown Monterey, within walking distance of shopping, attractions and dining
  • Spacious rooms with large flat-screen TVs and mini-fridges; some have wonderful bay views
  • Jacks Restaurant serves fresh seafood cuisine, including an oyster bar; Peter B’s is Monterey’s only craft brewery
  • Bright fitness center with Cybex equipment and personal trainers
  • Serene spa with great treatments, salon services, and steam rooms
  • Small outdoor plunge pool and Jacuzzi
  • Eco-friendly, Silver LEED®-EB property
  • 24-hour business center with printing services, and 50,000 square feet of meeting space
  • Family-friendly amenities include Portola Pirates Kids Program and kids’ menus

Cons

  • Some underwhelming bathrooms (currently being renovated)
  • Fee for Wi-Fi (free in Jacks Lounge and the lobby)
  • Fee for use of business center
  • Not all rooms have iPod docks
  • Some rooms don't have air-conditioning (but ceiling fans in every room)

Bottom Line

The upper-middle-range Portola is a sprawling waterfront property right in the heart of Downtown Monterey. Its 379 spacious rooms have attractive nautical-themed decor, large flat-screen TVs, and empty mini-fridges. Property highlights include a solid restaurant serving fresh California cuisine; Monterey’s first and only craft brewery; a serene spa with great treatments, and extensive meeting space. However, there are extra fees that might make guests feel nickel-and-dimed -- such as charges for self- and valet parking, and for Wi-Fi. Plus, most bathrooms could use an update. Still, its great kids' program makes it a solid pick for families, and its location is very convenient both for business and leisure travelers.

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 Scene

A laid-back property popular with families and business travelers

The Portola’s location, adjacent to the Monterey Convention Center and blocks to major attractions, makes it a popular pick among business and leisure travelers alike. The gorgeous bay views, plantation shutters in rooms, and the spa make it suited for couples, while offerings such as scavenger hunts and welcome gifts for kids attract families as well.

The vibe here is laid-back yet somewhat upscale, with bellhops, doormen, and valets to help guests upon arrival. The lobby is an inviting space that manages to bring the outdoors inside, with trees, wicker and teak furniture, and a huge skylight that lets in tons of light. There are a couple of stores off the lobby, selling everything from souvenirs to sunscreen lotion and jewelry. The extensive meeting space is also on this floor.

Peter B’s Brewpub, Monterey’s first and only craft brewery, is a popular spot among locals, especially during its daily happy hour. The bar brews its own beer on-site, and has a pleasant patio with outdoor heaters. For something more elaborate than pub fare, Jacks serves fresh California cuisine in an attractive space with wood paneling, and decor that evokes the interiors of an old transoceanic liner.

The nautical theme continues throughout the rest of the hotel, with beautiful models of old ships, and blue and red striped walls and carpets.

 Location

In Downtown Monterey, adjacent to the Convention Center and blocks to attractions and dining

The hotel is located next door to the Monterey Convention Center, in the heart of downtown, and within walking distance to many restaurants and shops. The beaches and the oceanfront trails are an easy walk away, as is popular Fisherman’s Wharf. Del Monte Avenue, located across from the hotel, offers easy access to scenic Cabrillo Highway (Hwy 1) and other coastal communities, such as Carmel and Santa Cruz.

Downtown Monterey boasts a unique mix of 18th- to 19th-century Spanish Colonial buildings, along with dozens of stores and dining options, which draws crowds from April to November. It is also where those looking for some nightlife will probably end up after the sun sets.

  • 1-hour-21-minute drive to San Jose International Airport
  • 1-hour-53-minutes to San Francisco International Airport
  • Adjacent to the Monterey Convention Center
  • 4-minute walk to Monterey State Historic Museum
  • 5-minute walk to Fisherman’s Wharf
  • 7-minute walk to Monterey Municipal Beach
  • 12-minute walk to El Estero Park
  • 3-minute drive to Cannery Row
  • 4-minute drive to the Presidio of Monterey
  • 5-minute drive to Monterey Bay Aquarium
  • 5-minute drive to Del Monte Beach
  • 10-minute drive to Point Pinos Historic Lighthouse in Pacific Grove
  • 10- to 15-minute drive to several golf courses in the area

 Rooms

Spacious rooms have subtle nautical decor and eco-friendly amenities -- but some bathrooms are underwhelming, and there’s a fee for in-room Wi-Fi.

The rooms are one of the property’s standouts, with a subtle nautical decor in shades of red, white, and dark blue, wicker and teak furniture, and elegant wood accents. Lovely white plantation shutters are a highlight, and most open up onto a small balcony or furnished terrace (some rooms have large window seats instead). While some rooms have so-so views of a large open courtyard with lots of greenery and Adirondack chairs, others offer wonderful views of the Monterey Bay and the boats moored in the port.

There are several room types, each with a different view (city, garden, or bay), but all are big and come equipped with large flat-screen TVs and Keurig coffeemakers (though only some rooms have iPod docks). Rooms also feature a few eco-friendly amenities, including organic toiletries, sustainable mattresses made from renewable sources, and recycling bins, all of which helped get the property the Silver LEED®-EB award in 2010.

The quality of the bathrooms is inconsistent. While some have beautiful wood and black marble vanity areas, and elegant black and off-white striped wallpaper, others are less impressive. The second category of bathroom did receive fresh paint, towels, and shower curtains, but the white tiled floors and the standard shower/tub combos make them look a little dated. However, the hotel announced plans to renovate them starting in 2013, with plans for completion in 2015.

Most rooms are a tad larger than at the neighboring Monterey Marriott, but both hotels have comparable rates throughout the year.

The Portola’s suites offer extra space and a couple of nice extras, such as telescopes in Executive Suites, pull-out sofas in Studio Suites, and a wet bar in the Presidential Suite.

  • Large flat-screen TVs with on-demand movies (for a fee); suites have up to three TVs
  • No air-conditioning, but all rooms have ceiling fans
  • Sustainable mattresses made with organic cotton and recycled metal springs
  • 310-thread-count linens; down pillows; feather downs, and feather-top beds
  • Keurig coffeemakers
  • iPod docks available in some rooms only; Nintendo video games upon request
  • Eco-friendly, organic Green Natüra toiletries
  • Empty mini-fridges
  • Fee for Wi-Fi and wired Internet access
  • Robes, newspaper, hypoallergenic bedding, free cribs, and rollaway beds (for a fee) are all available upon request
  • Connecting rooms available
  • Chocolate chip cookies on the first day

 Pool

Small outdoor pool better suited for a dip than for swimming, plus a Jacuzzi

The Portola has a small outdoor pool that's overlooked by some rooms, but its shape (round), depth, and size make it better suited for a quick splash with the kids than for adults to swim in. It’s also not the most relaxing spot, as it is separated from busy Lighthouse Avenue by a low wall. There are a few loungers and a shaded area under an awning, plus a Jacuzzi big enough for several people.

 Spa

A serene spa with great treatments and salon services

The hotel is adjacent to Spa on the Plaza, which is part of the property but welcomes non-guests, too. It offers a solid treatment menu -- massages, facials, de-stress eye treatments -- and salon services, such as waxing, make-up application, and mani/pedis. But there’s a fee, even for use of the steam rooms.

  • On-site naturopathic doctor offers individualized treatment plans using botanical medicine, homeopathy, and life-style changes
  • Couples treatments; bridal packages available
  • Relaxation lounge
  • Shop selling natural spa products

 Family

Numerous features for families

The Portola has a wonderful program for families that includes welcome gifts, kids’ menus both at the bar and the restaurant, and the Portola Pirates Kids Program for children three to 12. The main activity of this program is a fun scavenger hunt around the hotel grounds, during which kids learn about the history of Monterey and explore the multiple beautiful scale models of old sailboats that can be found throughout the property. Returning guests get extra amenities for their kids, such as tickets to family-friendly attractions, T-shirts, and even kid-sized sleeping bags.

  • Portola Rooms feature one king bed or two double beds, and Studio Suites have a pull-out sofa in the living area.
  • Rollaway beds available for a fee
  • Cribs available at no extra charge
  • Kid's menu at Jacks Restaurant and at Peter B's Brewpub
  • Babysitting services and Nintendo video games available upon request
  • Connecting rooms upon request

 Food

Monterey's only craft brewery, and a solid restaurant serving fresh California cuisine -- plus dozens of other options within blocks

Peter B’s Brewpub is Monterey’s first and only craft brewery, and a popular spot among locals. It serves its own hand-crafted beer (brewed on-site) and pub fare, both in the indoor space as well as in the patio, equipped with outdoor heaters. It has a great daily happy hour, a pool table, and several TVs showing mostly sports.

For something more elaborate, Jacks Restaurant serves solid fresh seafood cuisine and sustainable, farm-fresh dishes in a relaxed space with nautically inspired decor. It also features an oyster bar. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and has a private dining room for events. The adjacent lounge has a fireplace, shelves full of books that guests can borrow, and comfy seating. There’s also an outdoor space with a fire pit and extra tables with outdoor heaters.

  • Dozens of other options within blocks of the hotel, from fast-food chains to elegant sit-down restaurants.
  • Starbucks and Pinkberry across the street from the hotel
  • Room service available

 Services

Fees for parking and in-room Wi-Fi

  • Indoor and outdoor valet and self-parking available for a fee
  • Bicycle rentals
  • Jogging and bicycle routes
  • Concierge service and porters
  • Room service
  • Same-day dry cleaning and laundry
  • Fee for in-room Wi-Fi, but free in the lobby and Jacks Lounge
  • Chocolate chip cookies upon arrival
  • Boarding pass printing; shipping services

 Physical Activities

A bright fitness center with Cybex equipment, and a great outdoor wellness program

The Portola has a small 24-hour fitness center. It has large windows that let in tons of natural light, and modern Cybex machines, including treadmills, stationary cycles, free weights, and an elliptical.

The fitness center also offers personal training and Paradise Boot Camp, which is a complete outdoor fitness program that stimulates coordination, teamwork, and balance with cardiovascular, strength and flexibility routines carried out on the beach (weather permitting). Classes are available twice a week for a fee. No reservations required.

  • Outdoor pool and Jacuzzi
  • Bicycle rentals available at front desk
  • Jogging and bicycle routes available upon request

 Business and Conventions

With a location adjacent to the Monterey Convention Center and over 50,000 square feet of meeting space, the Portola is popular among business travelers.

This property is located adjacent to the Monterey Convention Center, which makes it a natural pick among business travelers for convenience. With them in mind, the hotel offers many business-focused amenities.

The hotel offers a 24-hour business center with two computers and two printers, as well as extensive meeting space: 50,000 square feet or indoor venues, and almost 60,000 square feet of outdoor space. Meeting rooms range from small boardrooms for 10, to an amphitheater for up to 500 guests.

  • 25 flexible function rooms
  • Shipping services: UPS and FedEx
  • Boarding pass printing services
  • Free Wi-Fi in the lobby and in Jacks Lounge; fee for in-room Internet access
  • Catering services for corporate events
  • HD video conferencing facilities
  • 100 megabytes of dedicated Internet connection in the events spaces

 Weddings

Indoor and outdoor spaces, plus experienced catering services

The Portola offers plenty of options, from small venues for intimate weddings, to large ballrooms for up to 500 guests.

  • 50,000 square feet of indoor events space
  • 60,000 square feet of outdoor space
  • Private dining room at Jacks for small parties
  • Dedicated wedding catering service, and professional events team available
  • Bridal spa treatments and salon services at Spa on the Plaza
  • All wedding packages include: champagne toast; cake cutting; house linens; two hors d’oeuvres preceding the meal; menu tasting; custom dance floor and staging in ballrooms; free accommodation for the bride and groom on the wedding night.

 Eco-Friendly

The hotel was certified Silver LEED®-EB in 2010

The hotel's many eco-friendly initiatives got it the Silver LEED®-EB certification in 2010, becoming the sixth hotel in the U.S. to attain it in the “Existing Building” category. In 2013, the hotel added even more initiatives to its already lengthy repertoire.

  • Energy-efficient technologies such as Energy Star flat-screen TVs in every room, and enzyme-based detergents
  • Jacks Restaurant and Peter B’s Brewpub serve organic, local and sustainable food, and use compostable take-out containers
  • Drought-tolerant vegetation throughout the property
  • Low-flow faucets, showerheads and toilets, and organic toiletries in every bathroom
  • Energy-efficient lightning throughout the hotel and the spa
  • The hotel produces hot water with a cogeneration that simultaneously generates electricity on-site.
  • Sustainable, hypoallergenic mattresses made with 100 percent organic cotton and recycled metal springs
  • The hotel is also a member of several green and sustainable organizations, including Save Our Shores, the Offset Project, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch Program, the Food Scrap Program, and the Gleaning Program

 Handicap

Accessible rooms include lowered closet rods, illuminated door knockers, and roll-in showers

The hotel is equipped with a few dedicated accessible rooms.

  • Lowered peepholes
  • Lowered closet hanging rods
  • Safety bars in the bathrooms
  • Handheld shower nozzles
  • Available upon request: Illuminated door knocker; TTY devices; shower benches, and seat risers
  • Elevators to all floors

In addition, Portola Rooms can be adapted to handicapped guests. These rooms are located throughout the hotel, and feature either a king or two double beds.

 Pets

One of the most pet-friendly hotels in Monterey -- But for a fee

  • Pet free for all overnight stays
  • Guide of pet activities in the area
  • Pet-friendly patios for outdoor dining
  • Pet walking, and pet sitting services available
  • Welcome treats; welcome letter from the Pet Concierge
  • Water and food bowls

 Bottom Line

The upper-middle-range Portola is a sprawling waterfront property right in the heart of Downtown Monterey. Its 379 spacious rooms have attractive nautical-themed decor, large flat-screen TVs, and empty mini-fridges. Property highlights include a solid restaurant serving fresh California cuisine; Monterey’s first and only craft brewery; a serene spa with great treatments, and extensive meeting space. However, there are extra fees that might make guests feel nickel-and-dimed -- such as charges for self- and valet parking, and for Wi-Fi. Plus, most bathrooms could use an update. Still, its great kids' program makes it a solid pick for families, and its location is very convenient both for business and leisure travelers.

Things You Should Know About Portola Hotel & Spa at Monterey Bay

Address

  • Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA, 93940 United States of America

Room Types

  • Courtyard View Room
  • Executive Harbor View Suite
  • Executive Suite
  • Harbor View Room
  • Portola Room
  • Presidential Suite
  • Studio Suite

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Hotel Features

Number of Rooms: 379
Pool: Yes
Fitness Center: Yes
Spa: Yes
Internet: Yes
Pets Allowed: Yes
Cribs: Yes
Kids Club: Yes
Jacuzzi: Yes
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Hotel Information

Location: Monterey, California
Address: Two Portola Plaza, Monterey, CA, 93940 United States of America
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