Hotel Splendido, perched high above Portofino and engulfed in exotic gardens, has views of the harbor and yachts below.
There are few places in the world that make you feel as if you are somewhere magnificently significant; Hotel Splendido in Portofino, Italy, is one of them. It all comes down to location: The hotel sits atop a winding hill in a stunningly idyllic port on the Italian Riviera, overlooking Portofino’s cove and the Tigullio Gulf, where jetsetters glide along in their yachts and sloops. Then there are the exclusive homes tucked into the hills; just across from the hotel is the home of the designers Dolce & Gabbana, which draws its own posh crowd when the duo is in town.
Hotel Splendido has its own celebrity list of guests: The Duke of Windsor was the first client to sign the legendary hotel’s visitors’ book in 1952; Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Rex Harrison followed.
The oval-shaped pool is filled with heated saltwater.
Hotel Splendido’s superb reputation rests not only on its location, but in its stellar old-world service, which is constantly in play. Everyone is quietly treated in the most egalitarian fashion at the 64-room hideaway, owned since 1985 by Orient-Express Hotels. The company, which considers this one of the top jewels in its crown, has invested in it steadily. This winter, it’s refurbishing its third- and fourth-floor rooms (the property is open from mid-March through mid-November).
Most recently it revamped and reconfigured its two-bedroom Presidential Suite (No. 222). These swanky accommodations now sport four spacious terraces overlooking the cove and the gulf. We loved the pastel colors that now adorn the rooms, as well as the stunning olive-wood parquet floors.
If you’re sending a family to Hotel Splendido, or simply someone who likes to keep their buddies close, take note: The Presidential Suite can connect to an Executive Junior Suite and the combo can hold up to five comfortably. The property also has several other connecting-room options. Luxury travel advisors can consult with the hotel’s two travel advisor liaisons: Hotel Manager Ermes De Megni ([email protected]; 011-39-0185-2678-602) and Assistant Manager Michela Nicosia ([email protected]; 011-39-0185-2678-612).
You also can’t go wrong with an Exclusive Suite; these quarters have also been reconfigured and refurbished. Their sleeping rooms are large as are their bathrooms, with separate shower cubicles, bathtub, double-vanity basins (which we say is molto important) and armoires. The choices in this category are fantastic; one has a large terrace overlooking the sea. The other, on the third floor, fills with bright light during the day. Both connect to Junior Suites, which we’re told are the most popular accommodation. Each is different: Some have large terraces, others have balconies. All have large bathrooms with separate shower and double basin. Insider Secret: Try to snag those corner Junior Suites overlooking the swimming pool, which is filled with heated seawater. Room No. 101 has an enormous terrace, while Room No. 221 has a balcony that’s just dripping with wisteria, which blooms the first three weeks of March. Room No. 471 has a large corner terrace and impressive trompe d’oeil art in the bedroom.
Splendido Junior Suite’s, along with breathtaking sea views, offer classic décor and sunny Mediterranean shades.
Hint: The Splendido also has a two-room Annex located right next to the main building that is also ideal for families or for lovebirds seeking a bit more privacy. Note: Pets are welcome in all rooms but are not allowed in any public areas. Special pet-amenities include pet beds, mats, bowls and toys, which are available upon request.
The Hotel Splendido oozes tranquility, but if guests want to take their Zen vibe even further, they can check out the three-room Wellness Center, which has a sauna and a steam room. We recommend booking a massage outside amongst the pine and olive trees; the views of the cove are to die for.
Note: The spa’s peak hours are often late afternoons and early evening, so be absolutely certain to reserve a slot in advance. Here, the signature treatment is the two-hour “Il Sogno Splendido,” a.k.a. “Splendido’s Dream,” which combines a chamomile and rosemary footbath with a lavender and rose “defatiguing” massage and an exfoliating treatment with aloe vera and olive stones. It’s all followed up with a geranium and incense essences massage that aims to balance the body and lift the mood while nourishing and regenerating the skin. How can you go wrong with that?
Pilates and Yoga classes are available upon reservation, either indoors or outdoors. Contact the Wellness Center’s manager, Katia Delfino ([email protected] or [email protected]; 011-39-0185-2678-629) with questions; she is also the top-recommended therapist for a Swedish or Sports Massage. We recommend Anna Barattini for an Ayurvedic treatment; she is also the Yoga and Pilates expert.
If your VIPs are traveling with youngsters who would like to use the spa, there are parent/child massages available. A fun honey- and-milk manicure is another option and kids can even get their nails painted bright colors and have their pick of some pretty amusing nail stickers.
If your client is stopping in Portofino on a cruise, they can spend an afternoon dining on the hotel’s open-air terrace at Ristorante La Terrazza, where we enjoyed the romantic lunch of a lifetime. The service is exquisite and the fresh fish and the fresh mozzarella and tomato will further convince you that there’s no reason to ever leave this place. Be sure to reserve a seat at the restaurant well ahead of time, especially during weekends and in peak season (June, July and August).
Junior Suite bathrooms are expansive and white marbled.
Concierge Luca Chiesa ([email protected]; 011-39-0185-2678-605) is your contact for arranging insider experiences, such as a private cruise around the Tigullio Gulf or the Cinque Terre area on the hotel’s new Chris-Craft Corsair 36. He can also secure other vessels for your client to explore this enchanting region, including a single-masted sloop or an elegant motor yacht, crew included. Helicopter tours to and from anywhere around the Italian Riviera can also be arranged.
Note: Hotel Splendido has a sister property in the village of Portofino. The 16-room Hotel Splendido Mare is a 10-minute walk away; however, we suggest you advise guests to take the continuously running complimentary shuttle service that connects the two hotels.
Book the hotels at least two to three months out; for optimal picks, reserve a year out.