I believe I just fell in love… with The Portofino Hotel in Redondo Beach. This hotel is truly special, a hideaway unlike any other. The vibe of the hotel upon entry is light, airy and carefree- a glimpse of what your entire stay will feel like. The lobby has combined elements of fire and water that work perfectly well together. Large windows with views opening up to The Pacific Ocean are situated on either side of a crackling fireplace. They have mastered this synergy of warm yet breezy throughout the whole hotel. The lobby and lounge area are so welcoming you feel encouraged to come as you are and enjoy a drink, or just take a rest and enjoy the view. The hotel staff are sincere, helpful and friendly. The car was parked, the room key was placed in my hand, and the luggage was carried to the room before I could even spell r-e-l-a-x.
I opted for one of their five Ocean View Suites and it definitely exceeded my every hope and expectation. The suite is divided into two very spacious rooms by a dual sided fireplace. In both rooms there are large sliding glass doors that open up to your own private balcony right over the ocean. The living room has plenty of sitting and entertaining space, it’s own flat screen television, and feels as comfortable as your own home. The bedroom is tastefully laid out and designed. It has an incredibly comfortable and romantic four-poster bed, it’s own flat screen television equipped with movies and music on demand, and your own iPod dock. The decor is consistently calming and rich throughout the suite, it’s hues of blue, yellow and crisp white won’t let you forget you’re on a vacation by the sea.
I stepped out onto the balcony to soak it all in, and to my pleasant surprise I realized I was sharing the pureness of my sea side stay with creatures true to their habitat, sea lions! Yes, real live, cute as can be, sea lions right outside your room! These adorable little critters frolic and chatter to each other throughout the day, and it is unbelievably charming and enjoyable to watch them. I found myself peaceful, just smiling at them as though I was quietly appreciating them having me to their home. Of course, it was a gorgeous sunny and warm California day… So I set out on foot to explore the area around the hotel. The hotel staff armed me with a map of the area, a cold bottle of water, and personal recommendations to send me on my way. They made me feel prepared and excited for my journey!
I discovered that the beach community surrounding the hotel had a variety of laid back options to entertain all types of visitors. It’s location is in perfect walking distance to The Redondo Beach Pier which has an eclectic array of souvenir shops, casual seafood eateries, and bars. All come with a priceless view. For the adventurous tourist types you can hop a submarine ride for awesome underwater viewing or rent kayaks, gondolas, and boats from any of the kiosks along the boardwalk. Whatever you’re in the mood for at that moment you will definitely find on The Pier or neighboring it. It’s an easygoing, unpretentious and classic SoCal way to spend the afternoon. I had a blast! I was also weary from the fun in the sun, and ready to go back to The Portofino and unwind. There it was… waiting for me with the most perfect sunset I have seen in years! I sat on my suite balcony, put on the plush robe they provide, and took an out of this world nap. In and out of sleep, I was wondering… was this whole thing a dream? Ahhh… Speechless.
Before I knew it evening had come and my stomach was telling me it was time for dinner. I didn’t want to stray too far from the hotel or eat somewhere standard. So I called downstairs for a suggestion, they recommended Baleen and set me up with reservations. Off I ventured… about 50 feet from the lobby, across the front drive I found Baleen. Easy, exactly as I wanted. I was not sure what to expect, but what I found, once inside, exceeded my hopeful imagination. It is absolutely beautiful. Perhaps, one of the best feeling and aesthetically pleasing restaurants I have ever found. Large open windows face the water, glowing candles light the room, and dark wooden tables reflect warm orange shimmering light from the fireplace. They’ve got ambiance perfected. Rest assured, the food was just as perfect. It’s an East meets West inspired menu with original meal options. I started with the asparagus bisque soup, which was an excellent choice especially once I started dipping the warm sourdough bread into it! Then I had the seared Ahi which tasted as good as it was presented. It was placed on top of thinly sliced watermelon pods, and topped with tobiko caviar – it was the most innovative creation of flavor combining I’ve ever experienced. A definite must try.
Just when I was thinking my eyes might have been bigger than my appetite the waitress brought out an intermezzo palate cleanser- consisting of fresh raspberry sorbet and champagne. Okay, I was refreshed and ready for my entree. On to the Lobster Tail, which was exquisite. It was fresh, buttery, savory and cooked to perfection. Baleen delivered a meal that is fit for a king, the service was impeccable and I was totally satisfied and totally stuffed! After dinner I waddled myself down to one of the waterside fire pits located below Baleen. What a cozy, wonderful place to lay back, gaze at the stars, and have an after dinner drink. All was accomplished.
Back at The Portofino- the sea lions were winding down, the fishing boats swayed still in the water, and that would be the night I would receive the most wonderful night sleep I’ve ever had. Morning came and the hotel staff called to let me know that they had set aside a complementary bicycle for me to enjoy. It was waiting for me on the front drive. Now that’s how you make a girl feel special! I hoped on the sandy bike path and took a jaunt to Hermosa Beach. There were many restaurants, great boutiques for shopping, and delightful coffee shops to stop at. You can certainly entertain yourself around here for awhile. The vibe was chill and happy and so was I. Reality set in and I knew It was time to head back and check out of the room. Reluctantly I packed my bags and waved goodbye to my sea lion friends. The bell hop picked up my luggage and had my car pulled around the drive. I said goodbye to the hotel staff as if we were friends and stood in the lobby relishing in the happiness the Portofino brought me this weekend … I’ll be back. I heart The Portofino.
Portofino Hotel & Yacht Club
260 Portofino Way
Redondo Beach, CA 90277-2092