Photos and Review by Oyster.com Investigators
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Fees for parking and in-room Wi-Fi
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.
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.
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.
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.
Accessible rooms include lowered closet rods, illuminated door knockers, and roll-in showers
The hotel is equipped with a few dedicated accessible rooms.
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.
One of the most pet-friendly hotels in Monterey -- But for a fee
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.