Cinque Terre hotel

This item appears on page 27 of the May 2010 issue.

Saltwater scents from the Ligurian Sea mixed with aromas of homemade focaccia from the nearby bakery, Forno di Monterosso, as my wife, Cindy, and I arrived at La Spiaggia Hotel (Via Lungomare 98, Monterosso al Mare; phone 0187-817-567), five minutes’ walk from the rail station.

Andrea Poggi has owned this grand, old hotel for years. Julia and Ella work the reception area and give the art of hospitality a new meaning.

There are 19 rooms, some, like ours, with balconies facing the deep-blue waters of the sea. For our 13-night stay, May 5-19, 2009, our room (No. 307) on the top floor cost €150 (near $204) per night, which included parking and breakfast. No credit cards accepted, but for our extended stay we got a 10% discount. Efficient elevator. Breakfast room.

This was one of the most comfortable hotels we have stayed in on our travels to Europe. The rooms were clean and well designed, and amenities that really matter were all in place, including a closet with abundant storage space; an efficient hot-water system in the modern bathroom; large, soft towels; a hair dryer; a flat-screen TV; a room safe, and plenty of plugs for charging electronics. These little extras can help make a stay a special event.

Below the hotel is a boardwalk of cafés and bars bustling with happy guests who party late into the night. The street noise did not bother us as we went to bed early so we could start our daily adventures at the crack of dawn. We took day trips by train to Florence, Milan, Pisa, Portofino and more.


Aliso Viejo, CA