Hotel Portofino: everything you need to know about BritBox’s exclusive period drama - plot, cast, filming locations and trailer

Pining for a new period drama? The BritBox exclusive Hotel Portofino is filled with grace and glamour as it whisks you to the Italian Riviera of the roaring 20s.

By James Descombes Published: 12 January 2022 - 4.36pm
Eagle Eye Drama Adam James as Jack Turner in Hotel Portofino

Whether it’s Downtown Abbey, Bridgerton or The Crown, nothing beats a good period drama. And for fans of the genre, BritBox has a real treat.

Hotel Portofino is an original six-hour series based on the Italian Riviera during the 1920s and set against the historical backdrop of the rise of fascism in Mussolini’s Italy.

This 20s drama blends the humorous elements of a British family living and working abroad with darker themes and storylines, as it weaves the growth of far-right sympathies and a classic whodunit mystery throughout the series.

The breathtaking Italian backdrop is also the perfect setting for the show to embrace a cocktail of subplots and themes of sexual and social liberation. 

What is Hotel Portofino about?

Hotel Portofino follows Bella Ainsworth (Natascha McElhone), the daughter of a wealthy industrialist who moves to Italy to set up a quintessentially British hotel in the breathtakingly beautiful town of Portofino during the ‘Roaring 20s’.

The hotel caters for upper-class travellers who soon become over-demanding and hard to please, especially the imperious and influential Lady Latchmere (Anna Chancellor). What’s more, Bella quickly finds herself being targeted by a scheming and corrupt local politician, Signor Danioni, who threatens to drag her into the red-hot political cauldron of Mussolini’s Italy. 

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The demands of running Hotel Portofino take up much of Bella’s time and energy, but she also has to take care of her wounded son Lucian and her widowed daughter Alice in the traumatic aftermath of The First World War.

And then there’s Cecil, Bella’s aristocratic but caddish husband, who’s obsessed with arranging an advantageous marriage for Lucian to secure the future of the Ainsworth family’s estate back in England, and with finding the money to pay for his own interests and lifestyle. 

Who stars in Hotel Portofino?

Natascha McElhone (Ronin, Californication, Halo) leads the cast as Bella Ainsworth, the co-proprietor and moving spirit behind Hotel Portofino.

Hotel Portofino NATASCHA MCELHONE as Bella Ainsworth Eagle Eye Drama

Mark Umbers (Home Fires) plays her charming but dangerous aristocratic husband, Cecil. Their son Lucian is played by Oliver Dench (Pandora) and their daughter Alice by Olivia Morris. 

Hotel Portofino MARK UMBERS as Cecil Ainsworth Eagle Eye Drama

Anna Chancellor (Four Weddings and a Funeral, The Hour) plays the hotel’s most difficult and demanding guest, Lady Latchmere.

Hotel Portofino ANNA CHANCELLOR as Lady Latchmere Eagle Eye Drama

Pasquale Esposito (Gomorra) plays the corrupt local politician Signor Danioni.

Other cast members include Italian star Daniele Pecci as charismatic Count Carlo Albani. Lorenzo Richelmy (Marco Polo) as his son, Roberto and rising star Rocco Fasano as anti-fascist activist Gianluca Vitali.

Hotel Portofino also features Adam James (Vigil, I May Destroy You) as Jack Turner, Imogen King (Darkest Hour, The Bay) as Melissa De Vere, Lily Frazer (The Gentlemen) as Claudine Pascal, and Elizabeth Carling (Goodnight Sweetheart, The Damned United) as Betty Scanlon. 

Hotel Portofino LILY FRAZER as Claudine Eagle Eye Drama

Where was Hotel Portofino filmed?

Much of the shots by the sea were in fact filmed not in Italy but on the Adriatic in Opatija, Croatia. Get a glimpse of the beautiful scenery below:

Is there a trailer for Hotel Portofino?

Yes, there is a trailer for the six-part drama. Take a look below: 

When is Hotel Portofino on?

Hotel Portofino checks in exclusively to BritBox on 27 January 2022. It will also pay a visit to ITV, but not until 2023.