Portovenere, Italy – Hotel Belvedere

from TripAdvisor

Destination: Portovenere, Italy (Cinque Terre region)
Date: May 2014
Hotel: Hotel Belvedere
Brand: Independently owned
Status: none
# of travelers: 4 (2 couples) in 2 rooms

Hotel & Brand – Making the Decision

Before we began our grand excursion in Europe, we had to decide exactly what we wanted to see. A lover of the ocean, I pinpointed the coastal areas as my desired preference. The towns were smaller, so I assumed we would be able to see and do more without feeling the desire to return, unless of course the small cities and towns were just that awesome.

Prior to meeting up with our European counterparts, I had never heard of the five small coastal towns of Italy known as Cinque Terre. Our friends, whom I presume also had never been, were encouraged by their friends, who had actually been, to go and see the beautiful coastal cities of Italy.

I had no part in choosing this hotel off the beaten path. A lack of internet and my inability to make decisions on the fly led to the hotel being chosen for me, which I wasn't incredibly opposed to. (After all, if I had really wanted to make all of the hotel decisions, I could have easily pushed for locations and information prior to arriving in Europe. No, this was a joint venture, so we all shared in the decision making.) Crucial to this decision-making process was the location, although I am certain that a balcony overlooking the beautiful coastal waters of Italy probably offered encouragement in picking the hotel. It was an independently owned hotel, so there was no question or chance of receiving upgrade status or any benefits whatsoever to be concerned with when booking.

Getting There

We drove … and drove … and drove … until we found a parking garage that cost upwards of 20 Euros a day and required us to drag all of our luggage uphill to this tiny boutique hotel.

If driving is not your thing, you do have options but none of them include the train system which is widely used and accessible throughout much of Europe.


Hotel Belvedere was located along the coast of Italy with a fantastic view of La Spezia's Gulf (aka Poet's Gulf). There is easy access to a few landmarks from the hotel including St. Peter's Church as well as closeby tourist shopping opportunities, food, and even boat access to see any of the other cities that make up Cinque Terre. While the location is in fact very good for the area, I do not mean to suggest that you can easily fill a week or longer with new and interesting locations or food options without hopping aboard a boat or gaining access to at least one (or more) of the other cities. Portovenere is NOT a large city.

Hotel Room, Disability Access, Amenities, Staff, View, & Price

from TripAdvisor

One of the first things you notice as you walk into Hotel Belvedere is the lift. Yes, HB has a lift … not to be confused with an elevator. It is a tiny lift that barely fits a single person with their luggage. To make matters even more complicated for the disabled, the rooms were so small that they barely fit a single person with one large suitcase (which is much less than a couple or family might have when traveling Europe for 3 weeks). We are going to top this commentary off with a final remark that the closest parking is first come, first serve … and after that you are parking in a parking garage with a steep hill. If you are disabled, in a wheelchair, or have a hard time walking for any reason whatsoever, I highly discourage you from going to Cinque Terre as a whole, let alone staying in this hotel. We saw people doing it, but I imagine it was incredibly difficult for those people and their families.

As I said above, the rooms were small, much smaller than any of the rooms we experienced in Venice or Paris. If Justin and I had each had our own piece of luggage, I am not quite certain how we would have fit ourselves and our luggage into the tiny room we were stationed in for the duration of our visit to Portovenere. We were practically tripping over ourselves and our luggage to just move around the room. Eventually we found ourselves moving the tv, a supposed "amenity" to the side of the one large table we had in the room to give us a bit of space for our suitcase without encouraging further tripping. We had a bit of a view of the city, but it wasn't anything worth writing home about. The one nice bit was being able to leave the window open at night to take in some of the nice, cool air without having to worry about bugs.

While my husband and I did not experience this, our friends did complain about paper-thin walls enabling them to hear nearly everything that was going on in rooms around them. This may have been due to the location of their room … or it may be the case for every room in the hotel. Without having seen it or experienced it, it's hard for me to say.

from TripAdvisor

If upon first glance you think the room is small, you don't even want to think about the bathroom, which was tiny. There was not a bathtub, and the shower almost made one feel claustrophobic. This was clearly a bathroom in which you go in, get what you need to get done, and leave. Of course, the room was much the same way.

from TripAdvisor

Amenities they have listed include a hair dryer, laundry facilities (wish I had known), free wi-fi, room service (really?), toiletries (including slippers), and breakfast on-site. The wi-fi was fast enough and worked the entire time we were there, which is better than I can say for some of the other locations we stayed at. Honestly, I cannot remember if we had to pay for the hotel-style breakfast that we were able to partake in on the hotel terrace or if we paid for it in advance when we booked the room. Either way, the breakfast was decent for a hotel. I don't remember all of the offerings, but I do know that there was cheese, pastries and bread, hard boiled eggs, fruit, yogurt, cereal, and hot coffee.

Given that breakfast was included in our cost, the price was great for the location but could definitely be improved if merely considering the room alone.

The staff was rarely at the front desk and occasionally we had to wait to receive help, but overall we did not have a bad experience with them. When we needed assistance, they were usually able to take care of our problems in a quick and timely manner. Of course, the only problem we really came across was the desire to check in and out. That's good, right? :)

Overall Review
★★ (below average)

The location and view were fantastic, the breakfast was good, but the room size, paperthin walls, disability unfriendliness, and lack of parking definitely influenced my rating. This hotel was, without a doubt, charming and absolutely fantastic for being small, and indepently owned, but there were (as with most hotels) definitely things that they could improve upon.

Your Turn

Do you think I am being too harsh when rating a small, independently owned boutique hotel in comparison to a large, American-chain hotel? Would you consider a stay at Hotel Belvedere? Is there anything else you would want to know before booking a room at this hotel?

*My ratings are based on the idea that all hotels are the same and have equal opportunity to impress me, the customer. However, I am basing my opinions off of American standards that are often overzealous when compared to European standards with much larger rooms, more customer service, bigger breakfasts, chandeliers hanging from the ceilings, and less need to exert oneself.

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