Best accommodations in Portofino
Where to stay in Portofino: a Guide to the Nicest Hotels
I’ll admit it: I had never heard of Portofino. But then came my trip to Liguria, a picturesque strip of land sandwiched between mountains and sea, that connects Italy with Montecarlo and the French Riviera. And I simply fell in love with this tiny fishing hamlet not far from Genoa. Have any of you been there? If so, you will know that the beating heart of the village is its adorable piazzetta: a “little square” lined with upscale designer boutiques and exclusive-looking stores, with something for every depth-of-pocket. Do you need me to name names? Well, I can tell you that I was positively giddy in front of the oh-so-chic windows of Louis Vuitton, Hermés and Giorgio Armani, but was equally intrigued by some tiny shoe stores where everything seemed to be beautifully hand-made. One place in particular is a true sanctuary of footwear: the Calzoleria Mingo in via Roma has been operating since 1936, and for nearly a century skilled artisans have been hand-crafting sandals for all tastes and loafers literally fit for kings. Among its regular customers, just to give you an idea, was automobile magnate Gianni Agnelli, the man who turned FIAT into a global brand.
Loro Piana in piazza Martiri dell’Olivetta is another can’t miss shop where everything is 100% made in Italy: impossible not to be swept away by the intense colors of this elegant boutique.
As you might imagine, with such a concentration of unique choices, I was soon walking around with a bunch of bags in my hands and that euphoric feeling that only shopping can give us. Yeah, you know what I mean. After all, discovering new places also means getting a first-hand look at those iconic brands that have keep us daydreaming and wishing… am I wrong, ladies?
Shopping aside, however, Portofino is a town that truly deserves to be discovered , the kind of place you want to stay for a while, so you really get to understand it and enjoy it. So the question naturally pops up: where to stay in Portofino? Well, it would be impossible not to start from Hotel Splendido. Splendid indeed, this ultra-luxurious hotel has long enjoyed a reputation as a hideaway for A-listers, from Humphrey Bogart and Liz Taylor to George Clooney and Madonna. The queen of pop actually chose the property as the setting for her 51st birthday party, and of course, she did things in style by renting out a whole floor!
Where to stay in Portofino, home of world-class hospitality
Back to our question: where to stay in Portofino? Well, if your idea of a dream vacation is waking up in a magical place to a breathtaking view of the bluest of seas, then I know exactly what you’re looking for. I’m talking about the Piccolo Portofino, a boutique hotel in a historic villa perched on the hillside right above the town’s center, offering truly dramatic vistas of the coastline. What I love about this place… well, what I love most about it, is its truly majestic breakfast buffet, loaded with all those masterpieces – both savory and sweet – that only Italians know how to concoct. By the way, did you know that breakfast, in Italy, is the only occasion when it’s socially acceptable to have cappuccino? That’s right: ordering one past mid-morning – or even worse, at lunch or dinner – will inevitably get you some dirty looks.
Speaking of where to stay in Portofino, you really need to check out the Eight Hotel, an ideal choice if you -like me- enjoy pampering yourself at a spa and are seduced by the idea of an outdoor hot tub. Another great one is Hotel Nazionale: a lovely little gem that won’t disappoint even the most incurable romantics. The hotel is in fact just a 10-minute walk from the fabled Castello Brown: don’t forget this name, because from up there you’ll enjoy one of the most amazing views of the village and the harbor. And if any boys are reading me right now (don’t be shy, I know you’re there ;)), this is where you want to take your princess and tell her how much you love her… trust me!
Of course, there are good reasons, beyond shopping, that such a small town has so many amazing hotels: Portofino and its surroundings are absolutely stunning, with countless opportunities for leisure (how about a picturesque cruise?) and sightseeing (like the gothic oratory of Santa Maria Assunta or the ancient churches of St. Martin and St. George).
And if you’re the active type, don’t miss the opportunity for an incredible scuba-diving experience that’s also perfect for beginners: not far from the town’s harbor is the Christ of the Abyss, a world-famous submerged statue set on the seafloor of the crystalline Ligurian Sea. Underwater or not, this sun-soaked slice of heaven known as Portofino will take your breath away!