Basking in the picturesqueness of sun-kissed Portifino, the Belmond Hotel Splendido stands resplendently on a hillside overlooking the Gulf of Tigullio; while its sister hotel, the Belmond Splendido Mare reposes on the charming main piazzetta right on the harbour.
What the Belmond proffers is truly ‘La Dolce Vita’ – whether you are sipping Bellinis by the gorgeous infinity pool, relaxing in their world class spa or dining on the famous spaghetti at Chuflay (a favourite of Elizabeth Taylor), it offers its guests a taste of ‘the sweet life.’
Originally a monastery in the sixteenth century, the Belmond Hotel Splendido was attacked with such fervour by Saracen pirates that the monks abandoned it until Baron Baratta restored the ruins into a summer house in the nineteenth century.
Finally, in 1901 Mr. Ruggero Valentini, the pioneer of tourism in Portofino, transformed the Villa Baratta into the Grand Hotel Splendid. Since it’s opening, the hotel has played host to the creme d’la creme of Europe. In 1952, the Duke of Windsor was the first person to sign the visitors’ book along with his wife Wallis Simpson. In 1985 Orient-Express Hotels bought the property and started a massive renovation, completely redecorating and refurbishing all 67 rooms and suites.
The main building has been built on an east-west axis to elevate the panoramas of the harbour and reap maximum sunlight. While, the pretty gardens run gently down the slopes to the sea in bushes of fragrant lavender, wild herbs, old olive trees and bright pink bougainvillaea.
The Belmond Hotel Splendido’s design inspiration is the Italian glory days of La Dolce Vita – iconic, chic and timeless! High-end interior designer Eric Egan has collaborated with this luxury property to create a space that is uber exclusive for the ‘champagne set.’
Chicago born Egan, who has lived in Milan for more than 20 years is all about the details, overseeing everything from the linens to the tableware and everything in between. All rooms at this Mediterranean paradise offer dazzling undulating vistas from private balconies, plush furnishings and above all, privacy.
French Architect and Interior Designer Michael Jouannet was commissioned to revamp three new rooms following the blueprint of the same avant-garde and luxurious style that characterises the rest of the hotel. Jouannet expands on the ideas for the existing Dolce Vita Suite, creating a harmonious link throughout the property between contemporary European tastes and traditional Lingurean styles.
Using modern Italian and French craftsmanship, the suite evokes a sense of homely comfort, with exquisite details such as textile screens, unique carpets, authentic mirrors from Murano and one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture and artwork from France.
While he has retained the parquet flooring, old tiles from Lebanon and the pastel painted walls done in authentic Portofino style, he has introduced veined Vatican white marble in the bathrooms and mosaic-framed mirrors and motifs, speaking in the same design language as the rest of the spaces.
The Wisteria, Bougainvillea Presidential Suites and the Ginepro Executive Junior Suite feature spacious balconies and lavish black and white marble bathrooms. Each suite has hand painted murals on the walls, a continuation of the originals found through the hotel, while the antique chandeliers and inlaid floors have been inspired by the grand villas of the 1800s found along the Ligurian coastline. Bay windows open onto large areas overlooking the water, while dividers can be removed to turn the space into a single 60-metrelong terrace!
Down by the water, on the celebrated Piazzetta is the intimate Belmond Splendido Mare with just 16 rooms and suites with magical views of the harbour. Guest can gaze as yachts cruise in, fishermen unload their catch and locals and visitors stroll by, all while eating Ligurian specialities at the famous Chuflay Restaurant and Bar.
Unfettered luxury, fresh local cuisine, unparalleled views, amazing service and exclusive tailor-made experiences (like an al fresco spa treatment, fishing aboard a traditional boat or your own private cycle tour) is what makes the Belmond Hotels in Portofino icons in this Italian paradise.
Text By Natalie Pedder-Bajaj
Photographs Courtesy The Hotel