If you feel the need to get away from it all for a few days, relax, refresh, get pampered, enjoy lush greenery and lovely weather, do some shopping, maybe get a facial, and do all this in style, I might have just the right place for you: the Royal Hotel Sanremo. We had the chance to spend a few nights there in October – on the last days of this year’s season, which kind of is perfect for a (pardon the pun) seasoned off-season traveller like me.
Sanremo, a gem of the Ligurian coast of Italy, is located only a few kilometers from the French Riviera and the glitz and glam of Monaco, on the Riviera del Fiori, or the Flower Riviera in the province of Imperia. The Russian tsars used to come here to flee the abysmal cold winters in Russia, which is why you can find a Russion orthodox church next to the casino.
The Royal Hotel *****L sits amid a vast subtropical garden, only a short stroll from the casino and the lively historic center of Sanremo, where pedestrian areas invite you to go on a shopping excursion or discover the old parts of town with their historic buildings and many small parks.
From the hotel you have a wonderful view of the Mediterranean, and you might enjoy a drink on a balcony or roof terrace while watching the sunset.
A few impressions, because it is hard to capture the airy atmosphere of the hotel in words only.
The subtropical garden surrounding the hotel (which is a piece of history, built in 1872) covers about 18,000 square meters, and the tranquility it delivers lets you easily forget about the hustle and bustle of the world around you.
Care to dip into the pool?
There is also sufficient space to park your vehicle behind the hotel, included in the room price, and you can even park your valuable roadster or vintage car under a roof, should you prefer to give it some protection. Although I’d probably just take a plane to Nice and have the hotel pick me up there – unless, of course, you want to drive the curvy roads of Col de Tende, which is quite the scenic tour.
The hotel offers standard rooms, deluxe rooms, junior suites and suites. The standard rooms come with a (nice) mountain view, all other rooms face to the sea, and these, too, have a light, airy, mediterranean atmosphere which captures the traditional classic style of the hotel, intermingled with a breathe of modern interior design.
Bathrooms come with all the toiletries and extras you could wish for; and I have rarely slept as good in a hotel bed as here (nope, that’s not advertising, I am prone to insomnia and I do hate most hotel beds with a vengeance. I loved this one, which is in fact very rare).
This is probably the only thing I did not really like about the stay at the Royal hotel – which is, they charge you royally – for wifi as well as the minibar. Free wifi is available throughout the lobby, but there is no (free) drinking water in the rooms and no coffee and tea making facilities. Now, of course, you can always order room service, and have that bucket of ice with the fancy Champagne brought to your room, and that’s terrific, but over the last few years of travelling I have come to particularly like the option to just have a cup of tea or coffee in my undies without hassle, even in the middle of the night. Now really, a Nespresso machine and a daily bottle of water would go a long way. And if I pay an arm and a leg for wifi, I’d expect it to work properly, which it didn’t during the morning and evening.
Pool & spa
What I totally loved is the pool. The seawater-filled pool – designed by Giò Ponti, a famours architect and designer from Milan – is kept at a soothing 27°C, so you can swim outside all-year round. If you’d rather soak in a hot tub, there is a pretty large whirlpool area in the hotel’s spa, of course named ‚Royal Wellness‘. The spa features their own hairdresser – pardon, coiffeur -, the whirlpool and sauna, as well as several types of massage and beauty treatments.
Restaurant & breakfast
Okay, so… I am a foodie and a sucker for a great breakfast. I don’t do breakfast often, but if I do, I want not just some grub downed with a mug of coffee, but the whole shebang.
Usually, hotel breakfasts don’t live up to the expectations. This one did. From freshly pressed citrus juices to a buffet of lovely breads and rolls, a myriad of terrific jams and spreads, to beurre d’Isigny, fresh fruit, a vast choice of cereals, freshly pressed juice of any kind, ham & egg, to the glass of bubbly: it was all there and really good.
My personal love story, though, was this table (below). The pastries are made fresh each day, and if you hand me a plate of these little delicacies and some of the awesome coffee coming from a professional espresso machine (hey, this is Italy after all), I am perfectly happy. All this in combination with the impeccable service the waiters provided is a total winner. Again? Yes. please.
We also enjoyed the dinner at the hotel, included in our half-board booking. I reckon that most of the guests who eat here are hotel guests who have either booked half-board or are just enjoying to stay in. Regardless of your booking status you will have the a la carte option. The food offered is classic modern European / Mediterranean with Italian flavor, and in the colder months of the year dinner service is held at the restaurant Fiori di Murano, named so, because it is decorated with flowers made from Murano glass.
While the atmosphere is quite Belle Epoque and at times a little cool, the food is exactly what you’d expect in a five-star hotel: perfect – as were the recommended wines with our meals (and the espresso, and did I mention the pastries…?)
There is also a hotel bar for a decent nightcap, should you want one (or have a drink before dinner).
The service is where the Royal Hotel Sanremo truly excels. Kind, attentive staff, catering to their guests‘ every need in a friendly manner, almost invisible, but always there if needed, with just the right amount of personal touch and anticipation, made this stay utterly enjoyable. The only tiny downside was that several of the staff seem to speak mostly Italian, but there’s always someone at hand who will speak and understand German, English or, I presume, Russian, since many of the guests come from Russia these days.
The Royal Hotel *****L (L indicating a luxury resort) deserves its five-star rating without a doubt. It provides uncomplicated, no-fuss luxury, combined with the pomp and splendour of a classic 19th Century setting and an impeccable service. The pool and park are stunning and worth a stay alone, and it doesn’t surprise me that the hotel has been on the list of the Leading Hotels of the World for years. There is some room for improvement, though – I would love a lighter, more modern spa and maybe a few cozier options for dining than in the rather cermonial hall of Fiori di Murano.
Would I stay here again?
I’d come back for the pool and the breakfast and the service alone. Actually, I very much enjoyed my walk to the Mercato Annario, and strolling through the old town, and there are still lots of interesting places to discover in Sanremo, so yes, I’d love to come back for another getaway in style. With a „but“: I’d only do it if the wifi service gets better, because I simply need to have a reliable internet connection for work purposes, even on a trip as relaxing as this one.
Royal Hotel *****L, Sanremo
Corso Imperatrice 80
18038 Sanremo (IM), Italy
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