This is a really tough fight because each has their own good points and charm. But to be really frank, there are 3 winners based on the following criteria in no order:
- interior design of the house/appartment/rooms
- hospitality of the host(s)
- services provided in the price paid for the room
- price of the room
Before we go into the winners, let us look at some helpful tips that will aid you in choosing the right B&B for your future trips.
Why choose a B&B?
B&B offers a localised experience with a personal touch, whereby one gets to stay with a local host and be engaged in meaningful conversations that will increase one’s understanding of the place and her people, and plentiful of helpful suggestions on what to see, eat and do.
Unlike a hotel or a commercialised lodging, B&Bs usually are the apartments or houses which the host also live in, or live close to, hence they take pride in keeping the place clean and comfortable to allow guests to feel good. Service comes from their heart and it is nice to have someone whom you can approach for any advice or help if needed. It can be a good way to experience how do locals live and see the architectural as well as historical aspects of the buildings.
Also, incidents of theft are definitely much higher in hotels as all sorts of toms, dicks and harrys can pose off as one of the employees or guests, and it is not alarming that even some of the employees themselves are dishonest. Whereas in a B&B, the host’s reputation is at stake and there are not too many culprits to suspect.
How does one determine which B&B to stay?
The best website that I find is Tripadvisor where the reviews by past clients are more or less credible and there are photos posted by the reviewers of the B&B that are crucial in forming an impression of how the B&B kind of looks like. Once the photos and the reviews seem favorable, the next step will be to search for their website and contact the B&B for room availability and price. However, don’t be fooled by the number of reivews a B&B has. Some real gems simply may not have that many reviews written. In general, going by the tried and tested logic, most people would prefer those with more reviewers in order to feel more assured.
Since the previous article was on Sestri Levante, I would like to introduce to you this wonderful B&B which I fell in love with after seeing photos of it and the great reviews about the place and the host on Tripadvisor.com … B&B PIAZZA ITALIA (http://www.bbpiazzaitalia.it/en/). Not surprising that it is the top B&B in Sestri Levante. The photos here serve as a testimony of my wonderful and unforgettable stay there, and I look forward to be back again, and be pampered.
Conveniently located with just a few steps away from the Sestri Levante train station, the entrance to the B&B is below this short flight of stairs. Wonder what is behind the glass windows?
The whole compound surrounding the house is a garden, with beautiful flowers like this.
Alessandro even grows roses which some might have been used as part of his decorative works in the B&B.
When I arrived at the start of the stairs, Alex was there waiting for me with a BIG smile and helped me with my luggage. I was already half-alive having woked up very early in order to catch the train which took me about 4 hours of ride.
I was greeted by Alessandro’s mother, a very lovely woman as I came into the living room which is also sort of a reception area. I was in awe of the warm ambience and the good mix of classic with modern interior design that exude an elegant feel.
I sat on the extremely comfortable sofa while Alessandro went to get me a cup of tea. Thereafter, he gave me a tourist map of the town and introduced very enthusiastically the places and events that should not be missed. He also recommended some trattorias that serve good and unpretentious local cuisine that offer discount if I mention that I am a guest at B&B Piazza Italia. I had to hand it to him for being so genuinely enthusiastic going through this despite having done so countless of times with other guests.
White is the main choice of color of the furniture and furnishings, with some black to give definition and sophistication.
Well, not when they are half-used. But here is an exception, and even the candle holders add a touch of elegance to the layout.
A beautiful miniature glass box like a house is beautifully decorated with orchids, mini potted plants…
… and the bigger box has beautiful fresh roses, with a Renaissance putto beside. Many a time, simple elegance like this is enough.
Just by looking at the living room, one can already tell that Alessandro is a man who pays great attention to details with care, leaving nothing uncovered. So guests can feel confident and comfortable staying at the B&B.
Fresh flowers represent sincerity and can you feel the warm and sincere hospitality of Alessandro already?
Classical art. This is what I call real taste. Alessandro creatively put some Italian sweets for guests to feel free to take and try.
One of the few roman classical human busts add a touch of refined beauty to the B&B. Not forgetting thèse 3 cute pine cones placed in candle holders.
According to Alessandro, this house built in the early 20th century was destroyed during the bombing of the second world war. The original hand designed stucchi decorations, ancient doors and floorings have been restored.
Behind the door in the living room opens to another living room! What beautiful light shade! The feeling that one gets is that of stepping into a cosy familial area.
Alessandro is indeed a man of creativity and talents, with a fine taste for all things beautiful. He gets his decorative items mostly from his travels and antiques markets. Importantly, he knows how to mix and match them and lay them out in such a way that is classic elegance that makes guests feel at home.
Alessandro said that in his family, the womenfolk were masters in lace sewing by hand. It is not hard to understand why they were masters of their craft. Look at how intricate the stitchings are!
Beautifully laid out dining table with fresh roses in the middle, all done up by Alessandro himself. As I arrived before checked-in time, and was feeling and must had looked tired and hungry, Alessandro invited me to the pantry area to have some breakfast. I was amazed by the selection of pastries, bread, fruits and beverages that I could help myself with. I had genovese focaccia, which was one of the most deliciously unforgettable. Alessandro even shared the recipe on making the focaccia. The beautifully and precise lay-out of the cutlery and serviette shows how much care and attention to detail Alessandro has paid to give his guests a 7-star B&B experience. Seriously, I was reluctant to use them.
After having worked as a chef for 20 years, cooking should be his second nature. Look at the yummy-licious biscuits he has prepared and kept cruchy in these cute glass containers. Not too sweet, they were just right for the health-conscious like me, and enough to satisfy the sweet-tooths.
Where could be a better place in a B&B than the dining area where people get to bond over food? Alessandro was very kind and friendly who will always do his best to be present, and chat with guests, asking if they had a good sleep, etc. Alessandro and his very lovely mother are always ready to help. A smile and kind gestures are more than enough to communicate to the heart, transcending spoken languages.
For B&B Piazza Italia, generosity is THE word to describe it. Generous food and beverages throughout the day in the pantry/dining room, generous hospitality from Alessandro and his mum, and now, inside the room, complimentary regional wine. How generous is that? As a further testimony to Alessandro’s merticulous care and attention, I left the unsuccessfully unscrewed cork as it was the night before, disappointed that I was unable to savor it before I turned in for the night. The next morning, while Alessandro was doing house-keeping in the room, he noticed my failed attempt, and kindly placed a new cork which I was able to just pull it off later that evening when I returned.
scent of fresh roses fills the room the moment I walked in. Thick curtains decorate the beginning of the doorway to ensure guests have a good and undisturbed sleep at night or simply to provide privacy as well.
Luxury can be expressed by simplicity. Nothing too opulent here. Just simple bed, drawers, and classic french bed side tables.
… at the classic french bed side table which I like a lot.
Double-glazed big windows that open out to a view of the garden outside and sky above.
Here, the bed is a luxe. White sheets and hand-sewn covers with lace by the ladies in Alessandro’s family.
Now, it takes lots of time, skill, patience and most importantly, love to be able to do such a fantastic artwork like this. I can imagine how this went about: grandmother teaching the mother and the mother teaching the daughter and this just continued passing down from one generation to another. Sweet! How I wish that I have this chance…
Going through this sweet lace work with my fingers, I wondered how many heads that had rested here knew about this precious heritage?
After a day out in the sun, as I returned to B&B Piazza Italia, it felt like returning home as I stepped into the living room, illuminated by soft yellow light of the classic styled lamps. In the words of Alessandro on his motive for having this B&B, “I want to create a corner whereby my guests may discover wonderful surprises in the little details that I take great care and attention to make their stay memorable.” Thank you Alessandro, you have made my stay in Sestri Levante and Italy an unforgettable one.
I asked Alessandro, the amiable owner who has a natural flair for interior design, to share about his experience in setting up and running the B&B, and what motivates him to always keep that smile and energy despite at times, is a tough job, especially when he has to do the house-keeping after guests checked-out.
“I started out as a cook in a hotel for about 20 years. It was over this period of time there that I ‘breathed the atmosphere of the hotel’. That was where my desire to offer something different and more refine on the land of Sestri Levante developed.
So about 10 years ago, I opened my first B & B “CA ‘DU ALE” (http://www.caduale.it) which is a couple of kilometers from the city center. Though it is a simple place, careful attention is given to every single aspect of hospitality in order to ensure our guests have an enjoyable stay. But, I desired to do more, like something that can combine historical value with genuine hospitality.
And so about 4 years ago, I decided to open the doors of another house that is part of the history of Sestri Levante, to all who love refined beauty and wish to experience the simple life and spirit of Sestri Levante’s town, nature and people. Here at B&B Piazza Italia, is where elegance blends with the traditions and local flavors of my territory.
Finally, my heart is open to exchanging experiences through meeting and befriending people from different cultures. Hope to see you soon.”
Benvenuti al B&B Piazza Italia