DRIVING up the mountainous terrain almost perpendicular towards the heights of Portofino, the anticipation strikes. Approaching the hotel Belmond Splendido which is cushioned neatly into one of the mountain folds, I can finally admire the grandeur. The impeccably manicured red and pink flora drapes over the entirety of the property. Originally a 16th century Benedictine monastery that was reoccupied in the 18th century, now a destination of choice for Hollywood movie stars and socialites which brings me a sense of vintage glamour I admire the electric blue of the infinity pool and the crystal waters of the cove below. The pastel-coloured houses line the harbour which the add to the picturesque frame for which the Italian Riviera village is famed.
Swimming pool at Belmond Splendido
In my suite, the private terrace provides another perspective to soak in the surrounding vista. Breakfast is where I can overlook the bay which presents itself as a highlight to my visit to the Ligurian coast. You may not need to leave the property, from its exquisite perch that can be enjoyed by the pool or the terrace restaurant, but if and when the sun and the sea have bought sufficient respite, within the vicinity of The Splendido there is a multitude of options. For example, a frequent shuttle provided by the hotel drops you off after a short drive to the “piazzetta”, Portofino’s cobbled square, where you can explore the offerings of seasonal sea-food and high-end boutiques.
The garden at Belmond Splendido
I walked to the ‘Al Faro Lounge Bar’, the Portofino Lighthouse Lounge Bar (roughly 45 minutes from the hotel), where a well-earned Italian aperitivo is enjoyed as I basked in the surrounding beauty. I was told I may spot a pod of dolphins swimming near the coast, but unfortunately I was not so lucky on that occasion.
Restaurant at Belmond Splendido
On a morning excursion, a winding (and slightly exhilarating) drive upwards from the hotel led me towards the precipice of one mountain in particular. There I met Umberto, the agriculturist frontman of La Portafenese Group, who created the step like vineyards and terraces that now nestle into the mountainside on high over a five-year period of presumably hard endeavours. As I take a deep breath up at these heights, the air is crisper and the view even more astounding. Home-made focaccia, pecorino, parmesan and cherries was delectably paired with the group’s local produce of honey, beer and wine. This was an idyllic and all-encompassing tasting of the Verminto and Bosco fruits from the harvest.
Balcony view at Belmond Splendido
As I look out from my balcony for the final time, I can confirm that a stay within the Belmond Splendido’s historic walls overlooking the magical Italian Riviera coastline is an unrivalled Mediterranean holiday experience.
by Rachel Spencer
Prices start from €550/£510 per night for two sharing a double room with a garden view, including breakfast. Price based on a stay in October 2019. For reservations, visit https://www.belmond.com/hotels/europe/italy/portofino/belmond-hotel-splendido or call 0845 077 2222