ROYAL HOTEL SAN REMO
In the elegant seaside town of San Remo, there is really only one hotel in which persons of taste and refinement will wish to stay – The Royal. Opened in 1872, and still owned by the Bertolini family, its 126 rooms have welcomed many of the great and the good over the years. Since my last visit, when I was rather younger than I am now, the railway line – which used to separate The Royal from the sea – has been moved inland. This means that the hotel’s 16,000 square metres of gardens are now undisturbed by the sound of rattling carriages – which is as it should be for a famous palace hotel.
When I strode into the main entrance, I was struck again by the pleasing sense of spaciousness. It derives, I think, from the public rooms, which are large and plentiful. Underfoot, they have Persian rugs upon wood-block floors. Modern furniture stands easily besides ancient oil paintings and columns of polished granite. There was no doubt in my mind that this was a grand hotel. And this was before I had seen the swish spa downstairs and the large, heated, sea-water swimming pool outside.
Room 530 was on the fifth floor and was a “Deluxe Sea View Junior Suite” (460€-742€ a night, bed and breakfast for two, according to season), which is the level of accommodation I would recommend at The Royal. This was a bright and airy apartment, decorated in tones of sea-blue. It was also, as I like, pristine and effectively air-conditioned. The hallway contained fitted wardrobes (with a private safe) and doors to the bathroom and the bed-sitting room. The former contained one wash basin, a tub of decent size, a separate shower, a loo, a bidet and the largest shaving mirror I have yet encountered. The latter was large enough for two wooden armchairs, a sofa and a writing desk, as well as the substantial bed.
But most splendid was what was beyond the wall of plate glass: my own private terrace. Its sun blind was operated electrically, and could shield the table and the four chairs (two of the ‘lounger’ type) from the hot rays from the sky. I found this to be the ideal spot for a light luncheon, followed by a doze, while white yachts drifted across the Mediterranean panorama far away beyond the balustrade. (There are, of course, grand suites available, should the fancy take you. I peeped at two of them on the first floor, and liked the fact that the recent renovations had retained their traditional ambiance.)
Eating at The Royal is done at the Corallina Restaurant (by the pool), in the à la carte Il Giardino Restaurant (in the garden), or in the dining room called Fiori di Murano. Being on the half-board arrangement, I confined my attentions to the last.
Here I was looked after by Pino and his team, in exactly the right manner. The service was correct, courteous and old-fashioned. The room was large, the ceiling was high, the napery was white and the canned music was... absent. Deo gratias! Executive Chef Moreno Picchietti produces dishes which are traditional and based upon good ingredients, carefully handled. From my meals I noted the following dishes: cold veal with a tuna and caper sauce, string beans and quail’s eggs was both substantial and satisfying; medallions of beef, flamed with cognac, were delicious and tender; noisettes of veal were simple and prettily presented; and a chocolate and vanilla parfait was rich and enjoyable.
The wine list has 191 offerings, including 33 half-bottles. Most are Italian, although France and the New World are represented. Prices run from 26€ for a pinot bianco from the Trentino to 563€ for the 1999 vintage of Opus One from California and 600€ for the 2009 Solaia in magnum. Other bottles to catch my eye were: Krug Grande Cuvée (325€), 2011 Tignanello (147€), 2012 Ornellaia (178€), 2008 Sassicaia (210€), 2005 Gaja barbaresco (231€) and 2013 Cervaro della Sala (80€).
Lots of my fellow guests chose to have breakfast outside, but I have to be so careful to avoid the direct rays of the sun, that I confined my breaking of the fast to the same dining room in which I ate in the evenings. To my table were brought pots of coffee and buckets of ice cubes, and from the buffet I secured Corn Flakes, slices of tart (strawberry or apple), ample supplies of brown bread and butter with marmalade from our old friends, Wilkin & Sons of Tiptree, bowls of pineapple and plates of bacon. All of these were very good, but I was most taken with the glasses of apple juice – made before my eyes by a young lady at her own ‘juice station’. Delicious.
San Remo is charmingly elegant, and so is its best hotel. Comfort, relaxation, good food and attentive service are awaiting you at The Royal San Remo.
ROYAL HOTEL SAN REMO
Corso Imperatrice 80, 18038 San Remo, Italy.
Telephone +39 0184 5391
Fax +39 0184 661445
Double rooms from 213€-338€, breakfast included, according to season
Open from February to November
Check the hotel website for the rates for specific dates and for special offers