If you’re wondering where to stay in Portland Maine, then look no further than the Portland Harbor Hotel. This award-winning luxury hotel in the Old Port district offers an ideal location, upscale experience, and all the creature comforts you could want.
Continue reading to decide if this is the place for you. You’ll get an inside look at what it’s like to stay at the Portland Harbor Hotel based on our personal experience.
CONTENTS – In this article, you will explore where to stay in Portland Maine, and learn why we chose the Portland Harbor Hotel, including:
- Why Stay in Portland’s Old Port District?
- Review of Portland Harbor Hotel
- What Was the Room Like?
- Should You Use Valet Parking Service?
- Portland Harbor Hotel Lobby & Reception
- BlueFin Restaurant & Bar
- A Beautiful Hidden Garden
- Meeting & Wedding Facilities at Portland Harbor Hotel
- Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Portland Maine
Why Stay in Portland’s Old Port?
You’ll find Portland, Maine situated on a peninsula in Casco Bay along the southwestern coast of the state. So if you love coastal experiences, then Portland is a great choice.
This working port has a long history, dating back to colonial times. It was first settled in 1632 (as “Casco”). You’ll even walk upon the cobblestone that remains when you tour the Old Port.
Portland was once on par with Boston and New York back in the day, as far as port cities go. However, fire wiped out much of the early town in 1775 during the Revolution, and then again in the 1866 Great Fire of Portland, ignited by fire works.
That’s why many of the buildings you will see reflect the Victorian era, because it was during that period that the city was rebuilt.
The city of Portland is the largest city in Maine. It has several neighborhoods worth exploring, including Arts District where you’ll find the Maine College of Art and the Portland Museum of Art. In the West End, you’ll step back in time to understated elegance and Victorian grandeur, for instance at Victoria Mansion.
And then there’s my favorite: the Old Port.
What is the Old Port in Portland Like?
The Old Port District is simply that — the place where the “old port” and sea industry thrives. It’s full of charm and history. This working waterfront is home to fishing and lobstering boats. It’s a charming seaport surrounded by several blocks of great dining and shopping.
While in the Old Port, you won’t feel like you’re in a bustling, metropolitan city (although you are just a few blocks from it). It’s more like you’ve stepped back a few hundred years architecturally, but with the luxury of a thriving foodie and shopping community.
The Casco Bay Lines ferry system also operates out of the Old Port. They will take you to any one of the coastal islands, like Peaks Island, Great Diamond Island, and Monhegan Island, to name a few.
And, here in the Old Port are some of the most famous restaurants in Portland, like Duck Fat, DeMillo’s on the Water, Gilbert’s Chowder House, and others.
All of this is just a few blocks down from the beautiful Portland Harbor Hotel. If you’re wondering where to say in Portland Maine, we highly recommend staying here!
Review of Portland Harbor Hotel
When we were invited to stay at the Portland Harbor Hotel in exchange for our honest review, I was delighted. That’s because we’d tried to book accommodations on two separate occasions over the summer and it was at full capacity.
After having experienced a taste of Portland and how fantastic the Portland Harbor Hotel is, it’s no wonder it was fully booked.
Keep reading to find out what it’s like to stay at the Portland Harbor Hotel based on my experience.
What Was the Room Like?
Our room at the Portland Harbor Hotel was a King Garden View room that was spotless, spacious and overlooked the garden. Our cozy, bright bedroom was set off from a comfortable living space.
As a couple, we were very happy with this room, but you might also consider some of the other room options, depending on your needs. Portland Harbor Hotel has 101 rooms in total, which include:
- Deluxe City View
- Junior Suite
- Whirlpool Spa Suite
- Honeymoon King
- Executive Suite
- ADA Rooms
While Portland Maine has a low crime rate, I felt very secure here. For one, all guest rooms are above street level, require digital keys, and also have a deadbolt. If you want to forgo any entry to your room, simply place the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the door to opt out of housekeeping services.
In addition, all of the rooms are non-smoking.
From the signal flags over the bed to the subtle wallpaper patterns in the hallway, the Portland Harbor Hotel is tastefully decorated to suit those who love the sea.
On entering the King Garden View room, you’ll find a welcoming sitting area with modern seating and a lovely wood wine table before a large window. Natural light streams in through the curtain sheers, which offer privacy along with the room-darkening shades.
The flooring is gorgeous, and compliments a nautical theme which tastefully repeats throughout the Portland Harbor Hotel.
To the side of the seating is a bureau with a fold down table that provides a small bar or dining space. It hides neatly away when not in use. Inside, you’ll discover it’s conveniently outfitted with an ice bucket, wine tray, and glasses.
Above this piece of furniture, you’ll find a flatscreen TV – but to be honest, we didn’t have a need for it.
Transitioning between the sitting area to the sleeping quarters is an incredible wardrobe or armoire, topped with a display of vintage luggage. Two large doors open to reveal plenty of hanging space, shelving, and drawers. The space automatically lights up (genius!) and holds a full length mirror on one side.
Beneath the shelves is a small refrigerator, perfect for storing cold drinks and maybe even a some leftovers. This comes in handy because Portland is a city for foodies…you won’t want to leave anything behind. The refrigerator also comes with a very small freezer section.
Complimentary Starbucks Counter
If you’re worried you won’t have enough space for ice in the room fridge, don’t be. Right down the hall outside the elevators on each floor of the Portland Harbor Hotel is a small coffee service area. Not only will you find complimentary bags of ice at the ready, but also fruit, tea, and coffee.
There is additional seating here, but most importantly, a Starbucks self-serve brewer is available to you early each morning. It grinds and brews your coffee on demand with a single touch!
This area is well-stocked with sugar and creamers, and offers a small sink. You can take your coffee in a paper cup with a cover if you’re on the go, or relax back in your room with a comfortable mug in hand.
Related Article: Coffee connoisseur? Check out these best coffee drinks from around the world.
Luxury Bathroom Amenities
Back in the guest room, you’ll also find a luxury bathroom with ample lighting, a gleaming granite-top vanity, and a magnifying make-up mirror. There are drawers and plenty of space beneath the counter to stash your necessities. You’ll also find complimentary toiletries, a make-up cloth, and a blowdryer for your use.
Also in the bathroom is an extra deep soaking tub, with pristine white porcelain – perfect for a relaxing soak. Beside it is a granite and glass-enclosed walk in shower with a sparkling clean shower head. (The water pressure is excellent.)
The room is replete with plenty of white fluffy towels arranged with a decorative flair.
In the bathroom and throughout the room, you’ll find peaceful nautical photos and themed decor reminiscent of the waterfront.
The sleeping area is a perfect size – filled with a comfortable king-sized bed and fresh white sheets and comforter. Two nightstands with lamps flank the bed, and at the foot, a chic pair of benches are ideal for dressing or sorting through luggage.
What I especially loved about this space is that it is drenched in natural light filtered through sheers. Large windows overlook the tranquil garden, and you hardly know you’re in the city.
Room darkening curtains thoroughly close off any outside light for a good night’s sleep in the comfy signature bed.
Technology & Comfort
Technology can be tricky in some hotels, but not at Portland Harbor Hotel. I had no trouble connecting to the complimentary high speed wifi.
Plus, the guest room offers plenty of outlets throughout, as well as in the coffee area, lobby, and other common areas. No more worries about your devices running out of battery charge.
The same is true of the room’s lighting – plenty of it, both task lighting and ambient light.
Finally, the thermostat in the room is responsive and keeps the room at a comfortable temperature. (This is key in this stage of life!) We were able to easily adjust the climate to suit our preferences.
Should You Use Valet Service to Park?
When you stay at the Portland Harbor Hotel, you can opt for their valet service like we did. Parking in Portland is tricky at best and while you can find public lots, it’s not easy. Plus, the city does ticket so you’ll want to make sure to watch the time.
Portland Harbor Hotel’s valet parking is super-convenient, and offers in-and-out privileges, so if you want to scoot out for the day, you won’t be charged extra. While valet may not be the cheapest parking option, the convenience and comfort of having your car just a floor or two down from your accommodations is well worth it.
The entrance to Portland Harbor Hotel’s valet parking is on the same block as the hotel entrance at 468 Fore St in Portland.
Let me just say, my beautiful new car is a stick-shift that I trust few to drive, and I handed over the keys to the attendant’s capable hands without a moment’s hesitation. The valet attendants were very friendly and accommodating, and made us feel like special guests. I knew they would handle my car with care — and they did.
We knew we would be needing a few things in the car during our stay, so valet parked the car right on the first level so we had easy access. This made it very convenient for us.
If you’re staying for the weekend or even longer, there’s so much to do in the Old Port you may not need to take your car out for the duration of your visit. Parking the car with the valet service allowed us to safely store our car and be carefree.
Hotel Lobby & Reception
I jumped right into the details of our room in the details above, but we were impressed with Portland Harbor Hotel long before that. Let’s back up a bit.
The regal entrance to hotel sits on the corner of Fore and Union. You will ascend the carpeted stairs (notice the lovely kinetic sculpture that soars alongside the steps) to reach the lobby.
If you weren’t sure where to stay in Portland Maine by this point, you’ll easily make up your mind once you step inside.
“The crows nest,” as some call it, features casual seating with a grand view of the streets below.
Step forward into the lobby. This space is truly gorgeous–a reprieve from the city that feels a little bit like a hidden gem in plain sight. As you enter this space, you’ll see the BlueFin North Atlantic Seafood restaurant + bar to your left (more on that later) and an elegant sitting area with old-world charm to your right.
Creature Comforts & Nautical Decor at Portland Harbor Hotel
Here, stately, comfortable furniture is arranged in conversation areas. A leather wingback and coffee table sit before a roaring gas fireplace. A majestic desk for your use anchors the corner. Several large windows let in light to brighten this tasteful nautical-themed decor.
If you have to do a bit of work before your day begins (like I did), this is a great place to do it with the complimentary wifi, a warm fire, and the coffee on as early as 6AM.
The reception desk is discreetly tucked straight ahead with a protective shield that separates you from the staff (all of whom are masked and following COVID protocols).
Check in time is 3:00, but we were looking to check in our bags early and do some exploring before our room was ready. We were pleasantly surprised to find our room was all ready for us.
The receptionist was very cheerful and accommodating. She took some time to explain some of the area attractions, and gave us a list of recommended restaurants.
Again, we felt so welcome and happy to be guests of this beautiful hotel. It put us at ease from the start.
BlueFin Restaurant & Bar [Review]
The BlueFin Restaurant conveniently shares the level with the Portland Harbor Hotel’s lobby. Here, you’ll find a chic bar, dining room, and garden.
The bar, which is open from 3 pm to 11 pm, is a great place to enjoy your favorite wine, an Allagash beer, or specialty cocktail.
Breakfast at BlueFin | Portland Harbor Hotel
I had the pleasure of breakfast at BlueFin twice. The first morning, I enjoyed the most amazing farm-fresh eggs, Classic Benedict style. Two eggs were perfectly poached, served over Canadian bacon and grilled English muffins. A generous dollop of chive Hollandaise sauce completed the dish, which was complemented with crispy breakfast potatoes.
It was both decadent and light at the same time. The serving size was just enough, and I left the meal feeling satiated but not overly full. The coffee was also outstanding.
The next morning, I honestly considered ordering the eggs Benedict a second time. But Maine is known for blueberries and maple syrup, so it seemed fitting to try the Blueberry Pancakes with a side of country sausage. I was not disappointed.
Three large, fluffy buttermilk pancakes were more than I could eat at one sitting, but thoroughly delicious. They arrived with real maple syrup, warmed, and a sweet gob of whipped butter. The sausages were expertly cooked and so tasty. Served with a large glass of orange juice, this was another breakfast success story.
The whole breakfast menu at BlueFin is very creative. I have no doubt everything on the menu is excellent. Other entrees I’d love to try include the Smoked Salmon with whipped cream cheese and capers, and the French Toast made with cinnamon Challah bread, Chantilly cream and blueberry compote.
Lighter fare is available too, like a fruit board with maple yogurt and granola, and avocado toast.
Breakfast is served daily to the public and hotel guests from 7:30am – 11:30am. You won’t want to miss it.
Fine Dining at BlueFin | Portland Harbor Hotel
On the night of our arrival, we enjoyed fine dining at BlueFin Restaurant. This was a great option since travel days can be tiring and the restaurant is first-rate. Even though our trip from Boston was only about a 2-hour drive, it was a welcome option to enjoy dining at the hotel.
It was a great decision, because our appetizers, drinks, entrees, and the service were outstanding.
For starters, we chose the Maplebrook Burrata Salad with heirloom tomatoes and prosciutto, along with the Crab Cakes with arugula and a citrus tartar sauce. Both delicious, and we could have stopped there–but we didn’t.
My dinner partner ordered an Allagash beer and I was feeling like a seasonal drink, so I chose the Pumpkin Pie Martini. This is an intoxicating mix of vodka, dark rum, pumpkin, and fall spices served up in a martini glass. Let’s just say I took my time sipping it throughout the dinner and it was awesome!
For dinner, we ordered two fabulous entrees: the Seafood Scampi and the Delmonico Steak. The Seafood Scampi was made with fresh ribbons of house-made pappardelle pasta, shrimp and lobster, and a scrumptious herb butter garlic sauce. This was a meal fit for a Queen.
The Delmonico Steak was expertly cooked to order (Medium), served with a creamy boursin-vidallia-potato pureeand grilled vegetables with duck-fat butter. A-mazing.
Both entrees were as excellent as they sound (and yes, we did bring leftovers back to our room).
We ate in the main dining room, which has a lovely ambiance, especially so with the small fireplace and comfortable chairs. It’s open from 5:00pm – 9:30pm. You can also order in-room dinner service (5:00pm – 9:00pm).
Another option, weather depending, is to step out into the garden for al fresco dining. More on that, below.
A Bonus: A “Hidden” Garden Space at Portland Harbor Hotel
This lovely garden space is filled with beautiful flowers, dining tables, and a small bar. A hidden gem in the heart of Portland, it’s nestled within the surrounds of Portland Harbor Hotel and is open to the public — that is, if you know about it.
It’s such a romantic setting, lit with string lights, a glowing fire pit, and fountain statuary. When you visit during the summer, you’ll likely find live music and a lively vibe. In the cooler months, a warming fire pit surrounded by chairs extends the season, making it a cozy place to relax before retiring at the hotel.
Meeting Spaces & Other Facilities
As you might guess, Portland Harbor Hotel is a great place to stay for solo travelers, couples, executives, and families.
It’s also exceptional for business meetings and small weddings. The hotel offers several recently renovated meeting spaces of different sizes and function rooms to accommodate groups.
And if a gym is an important factor when you’re deciding where to stay in Portland Maine, you’ll be happy to know you won’t miss your workout routine here. There’s a full-featured gym on the lower level.
Final Thoughts on Where to Stay in Portland Maine
No matter how long or what your plans are for visiting Portland Maine, Portland Harbor Hotel is an excellent choice. You’ll find the hospitality is outstanding, it has all the amenities, and it’s located in an ideal place to explore the Old Port and beyond.
As far as where to stay in Portland Maine goes, Portland Harbor Hotel gets a resounding thumbs up. If a relaxed vibe and luxury accommodations in Portland sounds good to you, then you’ll love it here.
Just be sure to book early.
Lastly, here are some ideas and related topics to further help you plan day trips from Portland once you arrive:
- The short (20-minute) trip to Peak’s Island is a must for scenic beauty. You can explore the whole island in a few hours on foot, bicycle, or Peaks Island Golf Carts.
- Go lobstering with Lucky Catch Lobster Tours. You’ll learn all about lobsters and lobstering, and also get a water view of several of Portland’s iconic lighthouses.
- Take the ferry from Portland over to beautiful Bailey Island and Lands End.
- Drive inland toward the White Mountains to explore the charming mountain village of Bethel, Maine.
- If you happen to be in Brunswick, Maine, visit this unassuming but delicious seafood restaurant.
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This article is part of a sponsored collaboration. Special thanks to Portland Harbor Hotel and CM Communications for their support with a hosted stay. As always, all opinion expressed are my own. For more information, please see the following Disclosure.
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