The setting overlooking Portovenere and its archipelago is one of the great attractions of the Grand Hotel Portovenere on the Italian Riviera. It was the romantic village and surrounding mountain scenery that drew Byron here and inspired his famous 8km (5-mile) swim across the ‘Gulf of Poets’. 

Also read: Travel Guide to Portovenere on the Italian Riviera, the perfect gateway to the Cinque Terre

Converted from a 17th century Franciscan convent, the hotel retains some of the structure of the original building and notably the red-brick vaulted ceilings in the public areas. In the late 1800s it was transformed into the Hospital of the Marine Military. The historic complex became a hotel in 1970, closed down earlier this century and reopened in 2014 under new management with a complete revamp. Today it’s the most comfortable and elegant hotel in the Cinque Terre and Gulf of La Spezia area. Décor is contemporary, light and stylish throughout, with picture windows overlooking the town and harbour, and spacious sea-view terraces.

The word ‘Grand’ is somewhat misleading – there are only 45 rooms and the feeling is more one of a boutique hotel, intimate rather than grand, with an understated elegance and professionalism. The theme is marine, starting in the lobby where a school of wooden fish on the walls – along with the smiling and obliging staff – greet you on arrival. The installation is the work of Tuscan artist, Stefano Pilato, who uses wood which has been washed up on the beaches along with other recycled materials. More of his sea creatures pop up in public rooms, adding character and an element of irony.    

Who for

Cinque Terre visitors who are seeking 5-stars (most of the accommodation in the famous five villages comprises B&Bs or simple hotels and Portovenere’s Grand is the nearest 5-star hotel); keen hikers heading for the trails of the Cinque Terre or island of Palmeria; foodies who like to try local specialities and especially seafood; afficionados of sleepy medieval towns, with literary connections…. And anyone who loves a beautiful view.


Cloister Terrace junior suite grand hotel portovenere

Cloister Terrace junior suite

The hotel is set above the central hub of Portovenere, with peaceful guest rooms. The style is contemporary with subtle, sea-coloured hues in most guest rooms, reflecting the coastal setting.

The majority of rooms have irresistible sea views – either overlooking Portovenere or across to the island of Palmaria, but much cheaper are the rooms overlooking the inner courtyard. Executive doubles have a small terrace or balcony with views, studios are spacious with separate sitting areas, and suitable for families while junior suites have panoramic terraces which sit under the arches that formed part of the cloister of the convent. All rooms are equipped with minibars, safe, coffee machines, TV and, for those who book directly, access to numerous newspapers and magazines through the hotel’s PressReader app. Shower rooms are modern and spotless, and come with dressing gowns and a generous range of toiletries.

Double Room, grand hotel portovenere

Double Room

Food & Drink

The splendid spread of breakfast, catering for every palate, includes in the room rate for direct bookings. There is also an à la carte menu offering hot breakfast dishes (at extra cost).   


The Palmeria Restaurant has indoor and outdoor dining options, with a spacious terrace and mesmerising views. Ligurian specialities feature on the menu, as do those of Tuscany which lies just across the border. Unsurprisingly fish and seafood predominate but there are always a handful of meat dishes available, as well as vegetarian options.

Spaghetti with local mussels, Palmaria Restaurant

Spaghetti with local mussels, Palmaria Restaurant

You should definitely try the fresh mussels and oysters farmed in the Gulf, as well as the locally caught octopus, squid, and anchovies. Pasta dishes include linguine with shellfish and sea urchins (when in season)and the local trofie (squiggles of pasta traditionally made of wheat or chestnut flour) served with prawns, broccoli and mullet roe. For anyone wishing to try their hand at the local cuisine there are cookery classes where you can make your own gnocchi, Ligurian pesto and classic Italian tiramisu. 

The Venus Bar is a cool spot for a cocktail, with a spacious terrace overlooking the harbour and sea. It is open all day and serves snacks and light lunches. 

How much

 Rooms from €350 per night for a double room


What’s Nearby?

Guests can rent the hotel’s elegant motoscafo and skipper to explore the gulf and islands. Ferries link Portovenere with the Cinque Terre. There is also a public boat service from the small port below the hotel which crosses the bay for the island of Palmaria, with excellent hiking.

Guests can rent the hotel motorboat

Guests can rent the hotel motorboat

Boat excursions include daily trips to nearby beaches and coves and the hotel can arrange private trips whether it’s for swimming or snorkelling, visiting oyster and mussel farms or trips to the Cinque Terre including a vineyard and wine tasting.

The hotel is opening a beach club on the island of Palmeria in 2025. 

Verdict:Spectacular views, combined with the comfort of rooms, gastronomy and friendly, professional service, make this one of the most alluring hotels along the Eastern Italian Riviera.

Get there: Portovenere is just over an hour’s drive from Pisa International Airport. Regular trains link Pisa Central Station to La Spezia, which is nine miles from Portovenere. The hotel can arrange transfers.


Source : https://www.thetravelmagazine.net/hotel-review-grand-hotel-portovenere-italian-riviera-italy/

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