At the Splendido, just pay it.
Splendid by name, splendid by nature. Portofino is quite possibly one of the world’s most perfect towns, and the Hotel Splendido, one of the world’s most perfect hotels.
Ensconced in the protective embrace of rugged, rocky cliffs, high above gin clear waters of a protected marine sanctuary, this ex-monastery was abandoned by monks centuries ago due to too-frequent pirate attacks. Rescued from an ignominious fate, it was converted into a family summer house, and finally transformed into a hotel in 1901. This grand old dame has lost none of its lustre and has held pride of place within the Orient Express hotel group’s firmament of stars since 1985.
Kissed by the sun, set within a veritable forest of towering cypresses, pine and palm trees, bedecked with hydrangeas and bougainvillea in eye popping shades only found in this part of the Meditteranean, the Hotel Splendido has views so pretty it hurts the eyes.
Sitting on my junior suite’s expansive terrace (generous by Italian standards), I gaze out at sleek sailboats bobbing tantalisingly in the sparkling, azure sea, while seagulls soar above the lush green landscape. On the opposite side of the bay, rising steeply up, classically elegant villas half hidden by the foliage reveal themselves like memories of a time long past.
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Nothing disturbs the peace which envelops the Splendido like a deeply insulating cloak except for sweet birdsong, and the gentle fluffing of the cushions on the terrace by one of the many, ever vigilant, members of staff. Oh, to have the staff and service of the Splendido! It is they, along with the magical setting, that make the Splendido so very, very, special. Under the guiding hand of the wonderful Ermes de Megni, who has been at the helm as GM for the past 15 years; they are unobtrusive, yet relentlessly attentive. Service at the Splendido is the epitome of charm and grace. Formal enough, but never stuffy, friendly without overstepping boundaries, all members of the staff are clearly exceedingly well trained and take great pride in excelling at their jobs.
The rooms at the Splendido are decorated with a spartan hand, but no less pleasant for it, and in keeping with the minimal fuss of genteel seaside living. The saltwater pool overlooks the charming harbour, and bordered by a series of clever terraces, affording plenty of opportunities to please both those who like to see, and those who like to be seen. Endless miles of coastal paths will delight walkers, and those trying to counteract the effects of all too tempting Ligurian cuisine of the freshest seafood and pastas.
You will leave the Splendido and Portofino much lighter in wallet; in addition to the eye wateringly expensive room rates, the hotel conveniently provides all guests with their own printed shopping guide to help navigate the 100+ fine boutiques and waistline destroying restaurants, nestling cheek by jowl in the tiny harbour and town. You will leave with a heavy heart at departing such perfection, but with a twinkle in your eye, in the knowledge that such exquisite grace still exists in a small corner of a frenetic world.
Hotel Splendido – Salita Baratta 16, Portofino, Italy. T: +39 0185 267-801. E: [email protected]
Recommended room category: While some people prefer to be in the less formal, hustle and bustle at the Splendido Mare, I much prefer the Splendido for the views, tranquillity, and sense of place. Rooms on the second floor have the most generous terraces.
Take a junior suite or above, placed closest to the water. Junior suites starting at 1618 Euros/night, to 5400 Euros/night for the two bedroom presidential suite.