The Italian artist Nicoletta Ceccoli illustrates books. She lives in San Marino. Alice meets Psycho. Lovely work anyhow.
You can see much more of her work in the book “Beautiful nightmares”: a collection of her intriguing art.
Liguria is one of my favorite regions in Italy, Laigueglia being my favorite small town in Liguria. We’ve been there quite often in the summer months and it’s always packed with Italian tourists. There are many hotels in Laigueglia but when travelling with a family for longer then two or three days, staying in a hotel is not always the most relaxed option. I would rather select self catering in a holiday apartment.
When searching for self catering accommodation in Europe I always start by looking on HomeAway, followed by Homelidays, followed by…the others. As you probably know by now, I’m a lousy planner. As a last minute person I’m in need of phone numbers which you are able to see on Homelidays when you have an account, while first contact with the owners through HomeAway is often online (most of the owners don’t add their phone numbers). You then just have to hope for swift response. Unfortunatly sometimes you don’t even get any answer at all. Anyway I’ve had a few really nice apartments through HomeAway and Homelidays until now and a few really lousy ones as well.
This time I was looking for an apartment in Liguria, within the hour (!), for my family and I (so for 5 people). Laigueglia is a very cute little town but it’s kind of deserted in winter (and extremely full in high season). It was february and according to the Italian supermarket guy it was the coldest february in the last thirty years. The day we arrived it was was 1 °C and about – 5 °C at night so we were looking for accommodation with heating. What we did not realize at the time is that most apartments had not been rented out since septembre and were now colder then stone. By the time the walls of the house would heat up a bit our bones would already have transformed into ice cubes.
Now enough complaints about the weather and on to the accommodation. After mailing a few houses through HomeAway and getting no replies except for one negative one, I went on calling some Homelidays owners. The first lady hung up on me (?!). The second, a guy told me to send an email and hung up on me . No answer at the third number. I was starting to give up when I got the daughter of the owner of number four on the phone. She sounded very friendly and spoke English. She gave me the name and number of the person that had the keys and so we arrived in Laigueglia just twenty minutes after I had spoke to her, right before lunchtime.
The guy that has the keys works at a real estate agency in Laigueglia. His name is Andrea and he’s very nice and friendly. Eventhough he speaks very little English, he tries to help as well as he can. There could not have been a worst time for him to have to receive guests but he tried not to show it
The apartments, with old paintings on the ceilings, are located on the second floor (no elevator) of a beautiful old classic house from 1650. They are simply gorgeous, a real dream house. I wish I would live there all year round. The house is located right in the center of the old town, about 20 seconds walk from the beach and close to all restaurants.
It use to be one large apartment, which the owners have divided into two smaller ones. You could rent both apartments, they are merely divided by a door in the middle. The nicest thing of self catering apartment number one, Homelidays nr. 344383, is its large terrace of about 40m2 with lateral sea view. The terrace is perfect for summer evenings to have dinner on the big wooden table or for some private sunbathing. The apartment itself is about 80m2. There are two bedrooms, one with a double bed and one with three single beds. There is a simple bathroom with a shower and a separate toilet. The sitting area with the television is small, with a small couch, a small dining area and a kitchenette in a cupboard. Ok there it is, I hated the kitchen in the cupboard.
Seriously who wants to cook out of cupboard in a Palazzo? It’s fine to make a sandwich or maybe bake an egg but forget real cooking in this cupboard. I wish they would find a better solution for the kitchenette as this is such a pity. Had loads of good pizza’s from restaurant Pacan, a bit further down the street, during the ten days we stayed there. The decoration in the apartment is nice with antiques and stylish paintings and images on the walls and then there is this green cupboard. I did not understand who could have thought the cupboard would be a good idea and by god why green?
As for the amenities in the apartment, everything’s simple and functional, no luxury stuff. In short: no internet (solution: get an internet key at the store “Carosello” in Alassio and while you are there have a walk through Alassio, it’s a nice town.), there is a small fridge (no microwave or dishwasher), there is a washing machine (no dryer) in the bathroom. Everything functions just fine.
There is no parking which in the winter was no problem at all as there were enough spots on the street but knowing Laigueglia in July and August I gather that would be the biggest problem of this apartment as a car owner.
Ok, now self catering apartment number two, Homelidays nr. 353032 does not have a terrace but the frontal view of the sea from one of the two bedrooms is incredibly pretty. When the wind blows though the window opens up. The sitting room is much bigger then in the other apartment, as is the dining area (and the dining table) but they did it again: the green kitchen-cupboard!!! This cupboard has a dishwasher. There was an oven in this cupboard but it did not seem to work. Then again, I’m not sure as we did not persevere in our oven try out. The fridge is a full size one. The bathroom is smaller then in the other apartment. Like in the other apartment there is a shower and a washing machine in the bathroom. There is no separate toilet. There are two bedrooms (one with two single beds, one with a double bed) but you do have to walk through one bedroom to get into the other. I would say this apartment is nicer then the other but the terrace of the other is great.
Some extra practical info: There are no sheets or towels and there is no possibility to rent them either so bring your own! You can park in front of the house to unload but the street is closed for cars after 16h00 so get there earlier.
All together I would recommend because of the beautiful old building, the nice people, the location, the view and the terrace but please dear owners, put a decent kitchenette in there. These apartments deserve better then the green cupboard!!
The Mystery Guest
There are a few companies sailing from different towns in Italy to various towns in Croatia. The main crossing though is from Ancona to Split. I did the crossing quite often in the last few years and thought I’d share my recent experiences with you with the Dalmatia and the Regina della Pace ferries from the Blue Line company. There are two companies that make the crossing all year round: Jadrolinija and Blue Line. Blue Line often offers cheaper deals then Jadrolinija but it’s best to compare online at the time of booking. Both companies have vessels sailing daily in high season. In winter time, Blue Line sails twice a week and Jadrolinija three times (depending of the weather). All crossings off season are done at nighttime, in summer there are also a few day crossings every week.
Ancona to Split with Blue Line’s Dalmatia ferry
We travelled last week with Blue Line’s ferry “Dalmatia”, which is relatively new in their fleet. The ferry left Ancona at 20h30 and arrived in Split at 7h30. The Jadrolinija ferry leaving the same evening, was sailing out at 21h00, arrival time was 7h00.
We had not reserved (which you must absolutely do in summer though as the ferries are often fully booked in high season) and drove straight down to the ferry station in Ancona (on the Via Luigi Einaudi. The ferries are perfectly well signposted from the moment you drive into Ancona) at about 17h00. The Maritime station building looked depressing in the snow. There are a few companies represented inside where you can buy tickets and get the information you need. The ticket office of Anek line, running a ferry to Igoumenitsa in Greece was busy with people speaking loudly. The rest of the building was completely empty and most services like the exchange office were closed. There was also a dark and lifeless bar on the first floor with three old guys playing cards.
The lady from Blue Lines was well-disposed and the cabin was booked within minutes, no problem at all here. We could enter the ship 2 hours prior to the sailing out, and no later then half an hour before. As it was freezing cold we went in as soon as possible.
The Dalmatia fortunatly was well heated! It’s a nice and comfortable vessel of 127,2 meters long and 21,7 meters wide. There are 480 beds and room for about 275 cars and around 26 trucks. The trucker market is relatively big for the ferry line. They even have a trucker area in the a la carte restaurant where only the truckers can sit (in front of the tv) with a special trucker menu and all. Not that you would want a special menu because seriously the food was very bad and it was also the only spot on the ship were the staff was not very nice. We had Cevapcici and Spaghetti with tomato sauce, which both are not very difficult dishes I would say. Next time I’m bringing my own dinner!
There is another restaurant, the self service one, which was closed in low season. You can also find a small casino on board, a cute chapel on the top deck and a duty free shop with weird opening hours selling mostly cheap cigarettes, cheap alcohol and giant chocolate. There are different bars on the Dalmatia but the one on the 7th deck was the nicest. It’s called the nightclub: it has windows all around and a small dancefloor. It was empty when we were there, it has a very different atmosphere in the summer months. We had a coffee and a beer, it was cosy and the staff was entertaining and friendly.
The staff on the Blue Line ferry was nice, most of them spoke quite good English. About half of the staff we saw was from the Philippines and the other half was Croatian. At the bars it was one on one. So one Croatian and one Filipino. They seemed to have fun and enjoy their jobs which is always good for the atmosphere.
When you get into the ship, you start by parking your car. Don’t forget to take a bag with the stuff you’ll need later on during the crossing to or from Croatia as you are not allowed back on the car deck once the ship is at sea. After parking you go up by the stairs and arrive on deck 5 where there is the reception area. The reception lady was welcoming and helpful without being utterly friendly but friendly enough. In summer time the cabins are on deck 5 and 7 but in winter time the cabins on deck 7 close. So we got a cabin assigned on deck 5 with four beds, a shower , a toilet and a window. Take care by the way as they keep one passeport per cabin at the reception until you arrive at you destination. Don’t forget it there when you leave the ferry!
The room was small but then again we are on a ferry boat not in a luxury Palace hotel so actually I thought the cabin was quite comfortable. It is a great way to make the trip with children, they love the bunk beds and they sleep nearly all the way so the trip doesn’t seem too long for them. The beds were already made up, it was clean and there were enough towels. There is a stewart awake at reception all night (they run different shifts, I saw three different stewarts through out the night) if ever you need anything.
The sea was quite rough during our winter crossing so I did not sleep a lot. I was wandering around the ship in the middle of the night. The outside deck was totally empty. Watching the stars and the waves in the night all alone was so pretty. I even did the “I’m on the top of the world” Titanic bit until I realized I did not want to think about the Titanic right at that moment. Had a hard time waking up in the morning when the general wake up call went through the speakers around 6h30. We arrived in Split right on time as planned. Driving off the ferry was efficient. When you drive off you have to get in line for customs but all was well organized.
All together, I would recommend. The ferry is a good way to travel from Italy to Croatia with your car but without arriving all tired after a long drive. The cabins were clean and comfortable. The staff friendly and helpful. We arrived right on time. The only downside was the food.
Split to Ancona with Blue Line’s Regina della Pace ferry
I travelled three times with the Dalmatia and once with the other ferry from Blue Line on this line: Regina della Pace, the queen of peace. The Regina della Pace has larger cabins then the Dalmatia and the beds are much larger.
The ferry seems more modern then the Dalmatia, although far less charming. I found the Regina della Pace a bit claustro. There are less outside areas then on the Dalmatia but the ferry is more comfortable. The staff was friendly as usual on the Blue Line ferries and the food was not that great (as usual too). The amenities are similar on both ferries. All together, Blue Line has not disappointed yet.
Two out of the four times I took the ferry last year was in summer. The ferry then stops in Hvar once or twice a week, check the timetable on the site of Blue Line. There is also one ferry a week that sails during daytime in the high season.
I did the crossing from Croatia to Italy and back quite a few times with the Jadrolinija as well but that’s been a while now, longer then one year, so I will not review that until a more recent trip. As I am very satisfied with Blue Line, I will probably cross with that company again next time too. I did use the Jadrolinija ferries regularly last year for national crossings within Croatia and I only had good experiences so far. Jadrolinija is a good company that’s been around for ages and is very reliable and safe.
The Mystery Guest
Review of the Guesthouse Varosi in Edessa, Central Macedonia, Greece
Room: The two connecting rooms on the ground floor.
I’m sitting here, in the cold, feeling nostalgic thinking of a trip I made some while ago to the small Northern Greek town of Edessa. Edessa is the capital of the Pella prefecture in central Macedonia. It’s about 90 km from Thessaloniki. There are pretty impressive waterfalls in Edessa, an open air water museum and two crocodiles in a building, great Gyros, lots of Bulgarian tourists, a folklore museum and funny purple flowers which look like they were made out of paper. Do not miss out on the region around Edessa as well, there are some delightful sites to be discovered.
The few days I stayed in Guesthouse Varosi in Edessa are one of the warmest memories I have of my last Greek holiday. Edessa is a safe town with a relaxed atmosphere and the owners of the guesthouse are the most hospitable people ever. You know these moment in life when you meet somebody and it just feels right? It works the same with some new places you discover. Well, this holiday in Edessa had both.
The guesthouse itself is small, only 8 rooms. The house was built in the 18th century. There is a fireplace in the lobby, which doesn’t look like a lobby but more like the living room of family members. Most of the furniture here is wooden and the ambiance is cosy. One evening we ordered some Gyros by phone (which the owners did not find a problem at all.) and we ate our fast food dinner in front of the fireplace while having a chat with the owners. The parents, who are absolutely charming, don’t speak English very well but one of the daughters, Eleni, speaks it perfectly (I did not meet the other daughter). She gave us valuable off the beaten path tips for visiting Edessa and the region of Macedonia. They were so friendly and made us feel really welcome. On the other hand they were discrete when you needed it.
The Guesthouse is a family hotel located in the old neighborhood of Edessa called Varosi, it used to be the Christian quarter during the Ottoman occupation. It’s not far from the waterfalls site, about ten minutes walk. The decoration is simple, traditional and tasteful. The furniture is mostly antiques but they also have locally handmade pieces. The walls of the rooms are painted in pastel shades: green, blue, yellow and pink. They are rather tiny but then again so is the house.
The rooms are spotless clean. The bathrooms are comfortable enough. There is no luxury, but the style makes up for it . Not to mention the heavenly freshly homemade breakfast with amongst others warm pie and eggs. Seriously the best breakfast in Greece!!
If you prefer a larger room with more comfort and luxury I can recommend the hotel that is run by the daughters a bit furtherdown the street. It’s called Varosi four seasons. Even though in a whole different style then the guesthouse, it has the same personal and hospitable touch. The rooms are modern and the bathrooms are fancy.
The hotel has been perfectly restaured with lots of attention for details and in a very tastefull way. The daughters were directly involved in the renovation and you notice they really love their hotel like if it were their own little baby. The Varosi four seasons has just been open for a few years now so all the furniture is very recent.
I slept in both hotels. Three nights in Guesthouse Varosi on my way South and one night in the Varosi Four Seasons hotel on my way back North. The guesthouse is like if you were at home and really gives the feel of an old Macedonian house. The Varosi four seasons is a “real” hotel with a terrace with wonderful views of the valley. In both of those adresses you can feel and see that the family worked hard and personally for it.
All together I certainly would recommend. Guesthouse Varosi is an absolute gem and so is the town of Edessa. Staying in the guesthouse gives the opportunity to see the genuine Edessa, not as a tourist but from the inside. It has a good central location on walking distance of all the sites and the best breakfast ever. If you need more comfort the Varosi four seasons will give you just that with Wifi and all the usual hotel amenities. Don’t miss out on a chat with Eleni, she will be glad to tell you about her beautiful country.
The Mystery Guest
Review of the Best Western Farnese Parma in Parma, Emilia Romagna, Italy
Every once in a while I get the need to sleep in a blend and impersonal but comfortable chain hotel. The kind of hotel that screams: parking, Wifi, breakfast buffet. Not the place you would take your girlfriend to on Valentine’s day but good enough for an overnight stay on the way to your next meeting.
Having said and thought all that, I drove down to the Best Western Farnese Parma (again without reservation, I’m kind of hopeless with bookings, I can’t plan ahead). Fortunately I had some help from my reliable friend Tom Tom. The hotel is located in some depressing unattractive back street neigborhood way out of the centre of town, about one minute driving from the bypass to the highway.
And then…There it was: the big white concrete monster! Seriously the Best Western Farnese Parma must be on the list of the top ten most ugly buildings ever! Standing on the parking lot in the snow and cold I hesitated for a minute to even enter this horrific edifice. I did and I did not regret it.
As soon as you step in the Best Western Farnese Parma you get a warm welcome that makes you forgive and forget the exterior and the location of the building. Andrea, the receptionist, speaks well English and is extremely helpful. The lobby is nicely decorated, welcoming and cosy. The furnishing in the rooms is simple but nice. My room had redish tones. Nothing fancy But clean (except for the pair of socks I found under my bed) and comfortable.
The rooms are well maintained. It was – 9 º C outside but the room was well heated. The bathroom was a little bit small but the shower was good and it was perfectly clean. All the usual amenities work perfectly: the Wifi had good signal in the room and the telly had a large choice of channels. The parking in front of the building is free and there was a paid garage under the hotel as well. There is also an outside pool but it was full of snow when I was there.
I had dinner at the hotel restaurant on the ground floor. The waiter (Marko?) did not speak any English but he did speak French quite well. He was very funny making jokes the whole time. The second waiter was friendly as well. I had veal filled with Parmesan cheese. The food was quite ok and the portions generous. The restaurant was filled with businessmen reading magazines while dining alone.
I did not get much sleep that night because the neighbor was watching television all night. I was looking around at breakfast which guest looked like he had been watching telly all night. I think I know who was the guilty one, there was one guy yawning the whole time. The breakfast was excellent by the way, one of the best I encountered in Italian hotels. There was Parma ham and other cold cuts, croissants, cakes, Focaccia, scrambled eggs and bacon, peanut butter, diet jam, Parmesan cheese and more.
All together I would recommend. The Best Western Farnese Parma is a great business stop or short underway stop as it’s comfortable and not too far from the highway. Furthermore the hotel is well maintained, the food is fine and the staff is friendly.
The Mystery Guest
Review of the Grand hotel Arenzano, Arenzano, Liguria, Italy
It’s a cold February monday as we arrive with no reservation in Grand Hotel Arenzano. We are looking for a hotel for the night as we are driving on in the morning. Grand Hotel Arenzano is right on the national road and a few minutes walk from the centre of Arenzano, perfect location in our situation.
The Neo-Renaissance building is beautiful and imposing. I walk to the reception of the Grand Hotel Arenzano but nobody is there. There is no bell to ring. I decide to wait a maximum of five minutes. Which I do. After five minutes I call “Scusi” and the receptionist arrives right away from the back office. She excuses herself and is extremely friendly and polite. Her English is nog very good but good enough.
She proposes the suite, as we are two adults and three children, for a low season middle of the week bargain price.
Let’s take the suite and enjoy comfort and luxury for one night, great! Once we saw the room it was not that great….The room was not very large, not the size you would expect for a suite. There were four pillows , one shampoo and three towels for five people, a bit stingy guys, give us more soap!! There were brown spots on the walls, which looked like chocolate or according to the kids to something much less appetizing. The dropped ceiling was cracked on different spots and badly maintained. The decoration was plain and boring. Well, let’s say not really worth the name of “suite”. Grand Hotel Arenzano was not sweet at all.
When I asked for a city map and said we wanted to have a walk through the town, see what’s on in Arenzano, the very friendly receptionist gave me a photocopied map of the city. She showed me where the shopping street and the park were located. She did not think of indicating the church with the Sanctuary of the Infant Jesus of Prague for example, which I thought was strange as it is the most known tourist attraction in Arenzano.
In the evening we had dinner in the hotel restaurant on the ground floor. The waitress was very nice. She did not speak any English but she was very friendly. The fact she did not speak any English did result in an extra main dish which we had not ordered. But I think it was a genuine misunderstanding. The food was not very good. Actually, it was very bad, I surely wouldn’t have eaten there again. As the hotel is just steps away from the centre of the town, you might as well eat at a nice restaurant with more charm and better food.
The night was good, the extra pillows we asked arrived. You could hear the noise of the cars on the main national road during the night but it did not bother us that much, but then again we are used to lots of outside noise, it could be experienced as annoying for other people.
The best thing of the hotel was the view. The view out of the window was a full frontal sea view + container ships + national road + palm tree + parking of the hotel (with a guy sleeping in his car??!!). But all together, great great view. I so love Liguria!
Last but not least, breakfast. The variety was ok for Italian standards. There was no refill though. When we arrived at 9h30 (breakfast until 10) some plates were already empty and were not refilled (for example the croissants). I wouldn’t write home about the breakfast but it was…breakfast.
All together, I would not recommend Grand Hotel Arenzano. Obviously the hotel is in bad need of renovation and maintenance. The receptionist is helpful but the housekeeping staff is not polite neither friendly. The food is bad. Grand hotel Arenzano does not deserve 4 stars and is far too expensive for the quality it delivers.
The Mystery Guest
Review of the Pan Deï Palais. Relais et Chateaux in Saint-Tropez, Côte d’Azur , France
Room: Deva Suite
The big heavy wooden door of the Pan Dei Palais is closed and there is no apparent hotel sign. You could push the door open very easily but you wouldn’t dare: it looks too private. As soon as you do walk through though, you are no longer in the centre of loud Saint-Tropez with all the hustle and the bustle of the Côte d’Azur but in a calm and discreet Maharajah’s palace.
The Pan Deï Palais was built in 1835 by a French officer for his great love, the Indian princess Bannu Pan Deï. The Indian theme had been maintained in the decoration without being ostentatious. The Indian antiques, carpets, carvings, paintings and Asian furnishings have been tastefully chosen. This luxury Saint-Tropez boutique hotel is relatively small with just ten rooms and two suites.
As soon as I walk into the young Relais et Chateaux hotel I am greeted by a warm smile from the receptionist. The check in is efficient in a friendly way. The car park guy (so relieving to have valet parking in busy St-Tropez!) is one and all smiles as well and looks utterly happy to help us. Yes, it’s us today: Me, my wife and our three screaming jumping kids (actually they are really calm and cute but that sounds less dramatic, doesn’t it?!). We had a rough drive up here, we are tired and not in the greatest of moods. And there it is, the big difference between good and bad front desk staff: none of the staff of the Pan Deï look like we are bothering them coming in like this, without reservation, in casual jeans and with three children. The staff made us feel welcome and relaxed within seconds. We’ve had very different welcomes in other Saint-Tropez hotels so this was a real nice experience!
All of the staff was very friendly, except for the breakfast lady. She was not unfriendly really, more like uncaring. At some point I telephoned the reception because Wifi did not work right away. Within five minutes, not even, somebody was up in the room and the connection was working. That’s fast and efficient service!
We also got a tour through the Pan Dei hotel on arrival. Adjacent to the reception there is a very chill little library corner with a nice choice of books and magazines. There is a delightful pool at the back of the hotel in the relaxing garden. Here too discretion is very highly regarded.
What to say about the room. We had the Deva suite. The decoration was, like in the rest of the hotel, delicate and inspired. The room and the bathrooms were spotlessly clean. One of the two bathrooms has a bath and a separate shower. The other bathroom has only a shower. Both are immaculate and there are enough towels, soap and toiletries (Bulgari!).
And we all got gifts, yeah!! There was fresh fruit, mineral water and Porto waiting for us in our room but also a CD with a great choice of relaxing but modern music, a cap and even an attention for the children: bath toys. That was a great touch!
The Pan Deï has a well known gourmet restaurant with Asian meets Europe meets the rest of the world orientated food by chef Renaud Capelle. We ordered room service. We could not find something adequate on the menu for the children but it was absolutely no problem as they made pasta with tomato sauce for them. I had the filet de boeuf which was one of the most tender pieces of beef I’ve ever ate. My wife chose the steemed fish which was nice as well. As a dessert the chocolate soufflé was exquisite but we were not very excited about the chocolate spring rolls. None of us five. Bad luck, bad recipe or bad taste, I don’t know.
Breakfast is good with lots of fresh fruit but still a bit disappointing as I would have expected more from a hotel with so many detailed attentions. Check out is as easy and efficient as one would expect from this kind of hotel.
All together, I would certainly recommend the Pan Deï Palais. It is an impressive low key and intimate hotel in Saint Tropez. Big luxury, small scale. It is only closed from Mid-November till Mid- December, which is scarce in the Saint Tropez area. Most hotels close from October till easter in that region. Staying at the Pan Deï Palais is a very relaxing experience right in the centre of town.
Bien à vous,
The Mystery Guest
Review of the Grand hotel Diana Majestic in Diano Marina, Liguria, Italy
Room: Suite 404
My family and I walked in the Grand Hotel Diana Majestic on a cold February day. We were greeted by two receptionists: One woman who spoke English and smiled a lot. One man who only spoke Italian and smiled far too little.
My wife asked what rooms they had available for a family of five. We already had checked the options in the morning on their own website on the Internet and had seen that the cheapest option was the suite. At the reception though we were advised to book two connecting rooms.
When we were told the price, my wife said that she had seen the suite on the Internet for just 15 euros more. The very-bad-mood-receptionist-guy started talking loudly in Italian to the smiling woman which resulted in the smiling woman saying: “I am sorry but there is no room in the suite to add two beds”.
So we took the two connecting rooms. My wife took the children and bags in from the car to the lobby while I went to park the car in the hotel parking. The bad-mood-receptionist, instead of helping out with all the bags and children, told her in a very rude way to move the bags from in front of the door as the automatic door stayed open.
We then went up to our two rooms. The door in the middle of the connecting rooms was closed and we had received no key for it. The rooms were so small we got stuck in the corridor trying to get out again. The rooms where dark and blend, surely not the most charming rooms in Diano Marina. I then walked down to the reception and asked to see the suite.
It occurred the suite was bigger, far more comfortable and cost only 15 euros more then the connecting rooms. The housekeeping was not there though to open up the bed (which I believe was the reason they did not want to give us the room in the first place) so that would not be done before 19h00 which was perfectly fine with us. The lady from housekeeping was the sweetest thing I have ever seen. That must be said!
What to say about the room. It did not have a lot of charm or beautiful decoration, just the usual sailboat in a frame and brownish and beige color tones but it was clean, large and it had a very big terrace with astonishing sea views.
The marble bathroom was clean, there were enough towels and toiletries. Another plus point is that the hotel is well maintained, no defects. I slept quite well too, the bedding was fine quality.
Because we stayed in the hotel in winter the pools and the private beach were closed. Diano Marina is a real tourist resort, it wakes up in the summer months. There were loads of old Italian people. I gather it must have been one group. So there were the old people and us, that’s all. The atmosphere must be incredibly different in summer with the pools, sea and sun.
For dinner we had bought some nice Focaccia from Diano Marina for us and we ordered room service for the children: pasta with tomato sauce, grilled sandwich with ham and cheese and fries. It was quite good, nothing very special but good enough. The waiter was friendly. Everything fine here, no complaints
I woke up hungry and after getting the kids and the wife ready we went down to the breakfast room but…when we walked in we saw the waiter taking the last food away. He startled when seeing us and screamed something in Italian to his colleague who screamed something back and then he came and told us: “sorry breakfast is finished”. I looked on my watch, it was 10 to 10. Breakfast was supposed to be until 10 but we did not start a discussion as he did not speak any English and we do not speak great Italian. I think they just cleaned up after the group of old people finished, not realizing there was still somebody staying else in the hotel.
The panicked breakfast guy brought us to the bar and the bartender brought us coffee and chocolate milk for the children. Then the breakfast guy came back with two plates. One with three pieces of cake and one with three croissants with apricot jam. They both disappeared right after that and never saw them again. Enjoy your meal!
Check out was fast and problem free. The receptionist seemed very pleased to seeing us leave Grand Hotel Diana Majestic
All together, I would not recommend. Grand Hotel Diana Majestic does not have the greatest location. It’s a fifteen minute walk to the centre of Diano Marina. The hotel does not have any particular charm except for the wonderful sea views. I am sure you must be able to find those in another hotel as well.
The Mystery Guest