Hotel Splendido: A Glamorous Retreat in Portofino
Being synonymous with Portofino and the Italian Riviera ever since opened its doors in 1901, the Hotel Splendido has been for sure a strong incentive for many to visit Portofino for a classy vacation in Italy. A former monastery initially known as the Villa Baratta, the initimate, four-story property was built on several terraces high on a hill providing breathtaking views of the Portofino bay below and the sea beyond. The view of the hotel from the harborside could be taken from a fairy tale. The view of the property up-close — its signature wisteria vine, flowering window boxes and pristine landscaping, all set against a backdrop of multi-hued green, including gigantic Canary palms — sustains the image. That massive wisteria vine overflows between the popular dining terrace and atop the first floor of rooms. When in full spring bloom, its explosive, grape-like clusters of lavender blossoms perfume the air. Added to that display are the myriad of vibrant plants and flowers that seemingly line every walk, terrace and stairs on the long, hillside property.
When the hotel manager proudly pulls out the “Golden Book” as he calls it, the signatures are a veritable who’s who, starting with the first page, the Duke of Windsor, up through Hollywood’s Golden Age on into today. Three signatures grace one page: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall and Ava Gardner, under which is written “La Contessa Scouza (The Barefoot Contessa).” Ms. Gardner loved — and was loved by — Portofino so much that Splendido’s sister property, the Splendido Mare, tucked harbor-side right on the piazetta (little square), has a suite named for the raven-haired star who hailed from small town North Carolina. Latter pages of the “Golden Book” have scribbles from Woody Allen, Steven Spielberg, Billy Joel, Sting, and Bono of U2, among many others.
Black-and-white portraits of some of the many stars who’ve camped out here in luxury line the bar with its classic, black-and-white checkered, tile floor and singing bartender. After-dinner the place gets rocking in the adjacent piano bar (as much as Portofino ever rocks as this is the place for kicking back in style).
Just up the hill overlooking the property is Rex Harrison’s house, just below, clinging cliffside, the getaway villa of the Dolce & Gabbana clan.
But the Hotel Splendido is a star itself, which has made it a fave rave for jetsetters, celebs and yachters. Each room is a sumptuous haven, where guests luxuriate with Bvlgari products, like the bath tea bag, then tuck into Frette linens on ultra-comfy, pillow-top mattresses. Cleverly disguised as an mirrored cube at the foot of the bed is a pop-up television raised for viewing at turn-down service.
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