On a recent visit to Venice we stayed at a venerable grandfather of a hotel described in promotional materials as the oldest hotel in town. In 1118, it provided shelter to the Knights Templar and by 1574 it was known as Locanda della Luna.This family friendly hotel, one of 10 in the highest category of luxury in the famed city, was half a block from the Grand Canal and a minute walk from Saint Mark’s Square, an excellent location convenient to many of the major sightseeing points of interest. We especially liked the location because it rained intermittently during most our stay in the city. Being so close to the famed square made it easy to get there and to the nearby attractions even in the rain. An added advantage was that the hotel had a private landing next to the entrance that allowed gondola and water taxi pick up and drop-off. The landing was particularly convenient when we took a water taxi to the airport at 5 in the morning the day of our departure.
We arrived at the Relais Santa Croce from the Florence train station in the pouring rain. As soon as the taxi stopped at the hotel entrance, a helpful doorman took charge of our luggage and directed us up one flight of wide stairs (there was also an elevator) to reception. Once we dispensed with the check-in formalities someone showed us around the family friendly hotel and escorted us to our Junior Suite where we quickly shed our rain gear. Although we did not see much of the sun during our three night stay in the Renaissance city we enjoyed our visit, in great part, thanks to the quiet and comfort of our accommodations.
Although we were only scheduled to remain on the island of Ischia, known for its beautiful vistas as well as its thermal waters and spa offerings, for three nights we had set aside some time for treatments. The spa was conveniently located between our building and reception at our hotel. Just after breakfast we met with Constanza Popolano, Msc., the very busy spa manager, and Paolo Magrassi, M.D., the spa’s United States trained medical director. A man of subtle charm and a passion for travel to exotic locales he made time to tell us about the spa’s thermal waters and mud and the menu options available to visitors. Although the spa was undergoing renovations while we were there, we were fortunate to find treatment time available.
Il Comandante (The Commander) was named in honor of Achille Lauro, a Neapolitan shipowner and past mayor of Naples who was a previous owner of the building where the hotel restaurant is housed. Dinner at Il Comandante was a delightful surprise. The staff were polite and thoughtful and the service was punctilious.
Although we dined in a temporary venue (the restaurant’s space was being renovated) the dinner service was fine including lovely plates, silverware, glassware and perfectly ironed linen napkins.
The departure point to Ischia was so close to our Naples hotel that we walked there with our luggage. We arrived on the northwestern corner of the island of Ischia on a cool and sunny spring day following an hour long ride in an air conditioned and comfortable hydrofoil boat that departed from the port in Naples. As soon as we descended from the boat in Ischia we saw a representative from our hotel holding a sign with our names. With his help we wheeled our luggage to his air conditioned van for the five-minute drive to our home of the next three nights, L’Albergo della Regina Isabella.
Our first impression of the Romeo Hotel was in an unexpected venue. As we exited our high speed train from Rome we met Antonio Deperte, the newly appointed general manager of the hotel who had volunteered to pick us up at the train and personally introduce us to the much maligned Italian city. His warm greeting, in American English, and the short drive from the station to the hotel in a vintage Jaguar together set the tone for our lovely two-night stay at the art filled property.