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Hard Rock vs. Portofino Bay?

Raya

DIS Veteran
Joined
Apr 24, 2008
There's about a $20 a day price difference between Hard Rock and Portofino Bay during our trip. Is one better than the other?

We rarely hit the pools, and typically need to split up our time in the parks with a break - so rope drop to around lunch, and then come back after dinner/dark. Trip is in late August. Two adults, so kid friendly options aren't important.
 

pattyw

DIS Veteran
Joined
Feb 7, 2008
We've stayed at both- they are lovely! We choose HRH now as we have fallen in love with the hotel and the staff is stellar! You can't make a mistake choosing either!

HRH is a closer walk to the parks. It is going to be a little more adult oriented with the music and decor. I hate rock music and always resisted staying there, but once we stayed there once, it was true love! Universal allows pool hopping so you are welcome to visit Portofino or any of the other resorts. We stay club level and we make good use of the food offerings. We tour as you - we sleep in, go to the parks, come back to the hotel, and hit the parks after dinner time.

Late August will see smaller crowds as the southern schools go back in session. Have a great time!:)
 

macraven

Proud Redhead
Moderator
Joined
Apr 21, 2003
I would select hrh

It would shorten the walk time to the parks

Much closer to them than PBH is

If lightening is in the area, water taxis shut down

Bus service at the front of city walk or walking back to your hotel are the only options to the hotels from the parks
 
  • schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    I’d choose PBH out of those two.

    PB has more of a resort feel for me. It has a top end feel without being uncomfortable.

    We found more kids at HRH because of the pool......it is lively!

    It is slightly further to walk, but the boats are regular unless as Mac says there is lightning.......but it’s a pleasant walk and very walkable.

    Late August should be a fabulous time to go........:thumbsup2
     

    AuroraluvsPhillip

    Placed in Gryffindor, so red is my color
    Joined
    Mar 27, 2004
    Another vote for HRH here, the main reason being proximity to the parks. In the heat, when I'm tired, a 7-10 min walk beats a 15-20 min walk hands down. Now admittedly you can beat those times with a good walking pace, but I like to stroll and enjoy the beautiful scenery. My daughter and I always take the water taxi over to PBH for a visit at night, it's so pretty when you come around the bend and see it all lit up. Whatever hotel you end up at, you can always go visiting and have dinner too!
     

    HairyChest

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Aug 21, 2012
    Portofino Bay. Better theming, larger rooms, feels like a resort and transports you. the difference in proximity to the parks is a few minutes. There is a reason its considered universals flagship resort.
     

    bobbie68

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Aug 14, 2009
    Hi we have stayed at both and in fact just got back from PBH. Honestly, you can't go wrong with any of the Universal resorts they are all great in their own way. We have always been a fan of HRH and stayed there every year, but this time we tried PBH especially for the club level. The resorts have two different feels. We felt also that HRH has more action especially with kids at the pools. I think it is a little more hectic there. The walk to the parks is nice. The resort is more compact so you don't feel overwhelmed with getting around.

    I found PBH has kids but not as much and a little quieter. The rooms size at PBH was nice and roomy. The club level was great. The pools and the spa were lovely. The two negatives are the boat transportation in storms and the resort layout. We encountered storms in the afternoon each day. The water taxi's were shut down for a long time. We had to take a bus back three of the days. It was a little disorganized because it is not the main transportation for these resorts. When I have stayed at CBBR the bus service and organization is great. However, I would not let the water taxi and storms or the resort layout stop me from PBH. In fact everyone wants to go back there next year.

    I think you have to really look at the theme, it is amazing how much that can play a part in your choices of what you like.

    Good luck and enjoy!
     

    nkereina

    Last chance to lose your keys.
    Joined
    Feb 11, 2009
    Based on what you describe, I would choose HRH. We are also 2 adults who take mid-day breaks, and we prefer HRH out of all the on-site resorts due to the close proximity to the parks. Its the closest to walk to and from and we never use the water taxi there. We also spend most of our time on the Universal side, and the path to HRH is adjacent to the Universal entrance.

    PBH is a fine resort but IMO, the best part is the pool. Since that's of no interest to you, the downside would be that its a further walk since you'd have to walk the length of the past HRH just to get to PBH. The water taxi is an option, however.
     

    Captainkidd76

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 7, 2017
    HRH is one of my favorite hotels anywhere. Great service, food, pool and location. PBH is a much longer walk. Sometimes you just want to get right back to your room without waiting for a boat. PBH also has no washers/dryers, which for any hotel, is just silly. I also didn't care for PBH layout. Steps everywhere.
     

    2mickeys1minnie

    <font color=red>we've turned into that same crazy
    Joined
    Aug 16, 2006
    I'm booked at PBH in August for 2 nights. I'm nervous now reading about the water taxi's closing due to weather and not having a way back to the hotel w/o walking. Does this happen regularly?
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    Water taxi stop when lightning is within a certain number of miles away

    The do operate if it is raining and no lightning
     

    schumigirl

    It's a bit of a roodie doodie word for lady parts
    Joined
    May 15, 2007
    I'm booked at PBH in August for 2 nights. I'm nervous now reading about the water taxi's closing due to weather and not having a way back to the hotel w/o walking. Does this happen regularly?
    It can happen of course, but for us, in the last 5 years it’s happened twice when we were waiting for a boat.

    It wouldn’t put me off booking a hotel in case it happened.......:thumbsup2
     

    Jen1995

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Mar 25, 2018
    We prefer to walk to PBH from the parks, actually. It really is a lovely walk, even in the rain.
     

    nighttowll

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jun 29, 2013
    I'm booked at PBH in August for 2 nights. I'm nervous now reading about the water taxi's closing due to weather and not having a way back to the hotel w/o walking. Does this happen regularly?
    Yes and no. It really depends on when you are visiting and when you are trying to get a boat. Afternoon rain showers are common, but they tend to blow through quickly. Usually, if you wait a little while, the boats will reopen within a couple hours or less. It also depends on if you are visiting during the rainy / hurricane season or not. August is rainy season, so there’s a greater chance of this happening to you then to someone visiting in say February or March. I think we’ve seen the boats shut down at least once if not more every trip we’ve ever taken, except for our January and February trips. Our spring, summer, and fall trips have all had at least one shut down. If you don’t feel like walking or waiting the storm out, you can tip a bicycle cart driver to take you back.

    The one nice thing is that in the August heat, you may actually welcome a walk in the rain to cool off. It’s about 20 minutes to PBH from the parks, so not too bad. I find it is enjoyable in the mornings, but by the end of day, it is too much for me. I just pay the bicyclists when the boats shut down.
     

    robl45

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Sep 7, 2014
    I know this is old, but in case anyone is wondering, we stayed at Portofino and its not bad. The pool was decent, I'd say on Par with Disney Pools for the most part. It doesn't have that wow factor though and taking the boat takes more time than I'd like. The pool at HRH was stupidly shallow when we visited one day to use the pool and didn't end up staying because the waterslide was broken so I didn't love that. The HRH has the wow factor though, my wife and kids were like you should have booked this hotel and I do tend to agree. Also the walk is much shorter. I'm actually trying to book it for our August 2019 trip but the price is currently 500 dollars more or so than the Portofino.
     

    macraven

    Proud Redhead
    Moderator
    Joined
    Apr 21, 2003
    I like hrh but since it is the smallest (less rooms than the other two) premier hotel, their prices are staying high this year
    The hotel books up quickly for the standard rooms

    Hope you can snag a room there if the prices drop
    It is so close to the Studios
     

    Raya

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Apr 24, 2008
    And in case anyone is curious we stayed at Portofino last year. I don't know if we hit a bad time (end of August) but we were unable to eat in any of the restaurants at the hotel. They were either closed or out of reservations. The room was quite lovely. Distance to the parks was a chore. The boats ran either very slowly or not at all (when it was raining). One morning we waited at the boat dock for 30 minutes only to have a boat come up and not take anyone due to 'training'. So overall, very pretty, but not great for a theme park warrior. We're going to go with Hard Rock this year.
     

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