A Journey Through Italian HotelsPosted by in Travel
Usually when we travel I spend a lot of time finding just the right place to stay. This time, I let go of that and we stayed where our tour company placed us. I carefully checked out each place before we signed up, however. It was a relief in a way, not to have to make those decisions, particularly in a foreign country where it’s hard to know what to expect.
All of the hotels had bidets which my kids were horrified by, I was fascinated by and I later learned my father always used as a wine bucket when he was in Europe. We had some trouble getting the TVs to work but were surprised at the many different language channels to be found! All had elevators that seemed to have been retrofitted into the building, making them tiny and scary. Every hotel had a breakfast buffet that was nearly identical (more on that at the end of the post). Overall, we did well with our hotels.
A guide met us at the Venice airport and took us by water taxi to Venice, where we walked down an alley, through a campo, down a street and into our hotel. I was already overwhelmed by the beauty and other-worldliness of Venice, but when we stepped into our hotel, I felt like I was in a fairytale. The first thing I saw was a gigantic Murano chandelier – so big it hung almost to the floor and was roped off. The lobby felt very elegant and genteel with glided furniture and mirrors. The hotel desk was my second favorite thing about the hotel. Behind the desk were cubbies from which hung big tassels with the room keys. You hand in your key before leaving and pick it up on your way in. I’ve never stayed anywhere where you did that and I just adored the tassels!
The rooms were on the small side, but they continued to feel very European and elegant. We did not have adjoining rooms, or even rooms on the same floor, which was less than convenient. The baths were modern, in contrast with everything else.
The third best thing about the hotel was the afternoon snack. Every afternoon they set out cookies and iced tea (peach or lemon). We hit that table with a
vengeance every day!
The elevator was tiny and terrifying. There was a room with a pool table, and although my husband and son played, technically they weren’t supposed to because you had to be 18 to play pool (apparently because they gamble on pool in Italy).
Breakfast was served in an elegant dining area with an outdoor courtyard. The birds were very aggressive in the courtyard, however, so we stayed inside. The breakfast staff berated my son one morning for putting a croissant through the toaster (“Not for croissaint!” they scolded him).
This was my favorite hotel. It was within reasonable walking distance of San Marco and the Rialto Bridge, yet it was set apart enough to be in a quiet area. It felt comfortable and friendly while very, very different from American hotels.
Hotel Plaza Lucchesi, Florence
The lobby of this hotel was elegant
but there was never a soul in it. This hotel had the largest elevators, but they were not big enough to hold us and all our carry on bags (they were large but had a low weight limit). One of us always had to take the stairs! The rooms were comfortable but not spectacular. I did love the big windows that had wooden shutters you could close to keep out the heat, or open for a view of the Arno.
The front desk was helpful. The breakfast room was comfortable and attractive. The biggest downfall of this hotel was its location. Yes, it was directly on the Arno which
made for a lovely view, but it was just too far from the Ponte Vecchio and the center of Florence for our tastes. It was billed as walking distance, but we found it to be quite a hike, particularly after walking all day in the city.
This was our least favorite hotel. There was no lobby to speak of (2 chairs). We thought we were getting a quad room. What we got were two connecting rooms. One was quite nice with a big bed and bath. The other was very tiny, with room for a bed and nothing else and a bath that had a shower stall, no tub and was the size of a closet. The concept I imagine was that the parents would get the big room and the kids
would go in the small room. We have a 20 year old daughter and a 14 year old son and there’s simply no way they are sleeping in the same bed with each other. It would come to blows. So my husband and son squeezed in the tiny room, leaving the big room to the ladies.
I did not care for the decor in the rooms – bordello red is how I would describe it.
The breakfast area was pretty awful. It was an interior room on the second floor with no natural light and florescent lighting. They had tiny cafe tables, so we could not all sit together. The maids kept their carts in the doorway, so that provided a spectacular view. It was an unpleasant way to start the mornings.
The hotel was not conveniently located within walking distance to anything. It was supposed to be walking distance to the Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain, but we found it to be much too far.
Hotel Cesare Augusto, Sorrento
Our final hotel was this once grand hotel in Sorrento. It was clearly something in its heyday, but unfortunately I don’t think anything has changed since then! It is perched nicely at the edge of the main district of the town, so you can easily walk anywhere. It has a huge lobby, with furniture from the 70s. There are photos all over of Sophia Loren staying there, smooching the owner. I think they froze the hotel at that moment.
The rooms were large but the furniture was old. The beds were incredibly uncomfortable. We ended up piling blankets on top of the mattresses then putting the sheets over them and sleeping on top to try to get some padding beneath us. We did have adjoining rooms which was perfect.
The breakfast room was a huge dining room with many waiters mulling around. It was comfortable, but still felt dated.
Outside the back door was a lovely patio with gardens and porch swings and an old broken fountain that would have been nice if it worked. There was a pool on the roof, but it was quite small and there were people crowded around it. Not our speed.
The hotel staff spoke little to no English and were not very helpful at all and were often unfriendly. We definitely would not stay here again.
Every hotel had an almost identical buffet breakfast. Here’s what we could always find:
– scrambled eggs
– fresh fruit (cut up melon and whole oranges and apples)
– pastries and cakes
– toast and a toaster machine
– cold cuts and cheese
By the time we came home, I never wanted to see scrambled eggs or croissants again! What are your favorite hotel breakfast foods?
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I just found you blog and really enjoyed reading this post, which mirrors many of my own personal experiences with hotels in each of the 4 cities you have visited. Believe it or not, you are lucky to have found scrambled eggs in all 4 locations – sometimes they hand you a piece of dried toast in plastic and a small to-go size package of Nutella and tag it as an “Italian” breakfast! Looking forward to following your blog and various “Putting It All on the Table” adventures!
I’m glad I didn’t encounter those breakfasts! I think the tour company only contracted with hotels that offered a full breakfast – it was part of the specs of the package we chose. I never want to see Nutella again actually. We had lots of breakfast and dessert pastries that would look to have chocolate in them or on them, only to discover it was Nutella! We might have tired of the eggs, but they were really necessary. I couldn’t have done the miles and miles of walking we did if I didn’t start my day off with some protein. There are posts about dining and touring the 4 cities on the blog as well, if you scroll back – about one a week since August.
I’ve stayed in two hotels in Italy now – The Principe in Venice which was very grand and reminded me alot of the hotel you stayed in. The rooms were quite small but we were rewarded with a room overlooking the canal and a breakfast that mum and I still speak about!
I stayed in a hotel just off the Duomo in Florence and this was smaller also with a rickety lift which meant that I always took the stairs.
I’ve found that a lot of the breakfasts are the same throughout Europe (except the UK where there is usually a fully cooked breakfast too) . Usually its the coffee that I moan about but Italy offered nice strong coffee to get the morning off to a good start!
I’ve loved reading about your trip to Italy.
Those elevators did not make me happy at all! It sounds like you had two nice stays when you were in Italy.