A quick review of a wonderful hotel we stayed in recently.
Being lucky enough to live in Central Italy now, travelling around this beautiful country is so much more accessible for us. Whether it’s planes, trains or automobiles, or ferries, there are so many options to choose how to get around.
It was a Wednesday evening, and from Pisa we took the 1 hour and 10 minute drive down to Piombino to start our journey to the Hotel Villa Ottone, for our 3 day mini-break.
Arriving early, we parked the car by the sea and had a little wander. What a cute little town this was, the main walkway, Corso Vittorio Emanuele was full of bars and restaurants opening up for aperitivi before dinner.
I discovered a new spritz, Aperol isn’t my first choice, so this was red wine, Prosecco, orange juice and tonic water. No idea what it was called but it was very refreshing, I guess it was the Italian version of a Sangria, and served with the usual apperitivi, or as we say, canapes, usually free of charge pre dinner.
After stopping for an hour, we made our way to the ferry. I always get a bit nervous when we have to do this, due to post traumatic stress from one incident in Southern California where we were heading for one of the piers on the beach and ended up in Pier 1 which was the lane for lorries to get on the ferry. We had to reverse and travel the wrong way down one way streets to get back on track. Honestly thought we were going to be stopped and murdered after finding ourselves on completely the wrong side of town!
So we got there early. The tickets we were sent via email didn’t have a barcode so I had to run to the ticket office, whilst BB waited in the car in the queue to get on, and get the correct ticket printed (all in Italian), so be warned, your tickets need a barcode. Also be warned to book the hotel first, that way they offer you an excellent discount on the ferry cost. Wish I’d known that before I booked the ferry then hotel!
I really wanted to get on the Superhero ferry but it wasn’t going the right way so we had to settle for the boring basic one. The ferry journeys to Elba can be done very quickly, but we had the car so it took an hour on the car and passenger ferry. You have to get out the car and go up top, I guess you’d spontaneously combust if you didn’t, so we wandered upstairs, got a soft drink and went outside to watch the sunset. Beautiful time to be in the middle of the water, though very expensive for a sunset cruise!
The hotel we chose was only 15 minutes from the port and we did this purposely as we arrived late at night and didn’t want to be driving too far in the dark. That’s a recipe for disaster…..always!
We quickly checked in and were expecting a small, slightly old fashioned style room with a view of the car park! We were in the main hotel area and our room was almost suite like and very clean and modern looking.
The view was of the small independent villas that were dotted around the plot, but we weren’t really in the room for long enough to sit on the shaded, but hot balcony. We had a sitting area which was separated from the sleeping area by a television and cabinet in the middle. Good wardrobe space and a very spacious bathroom with double sinks, I love a double sink!
I think the more traditional style rooms must have all been in the villa, which has the outstanding and very expensive sea view rooms. Click here to see the bedrooms in the villa.
Arriving at night we didn’t get the full benefit of seeing the hotel grounds, but after a quick freshen up we went downstairs for a night cap. What a bar, what a setting! What cocktails and palm trees. There was also live music at the weekend.
The bar is on the front porch of the original villa, with its huge pillars and beautiful outdoor seating you are looking right on to the sea, what more could you want. The inside of the villa is as you would expect and stupidly, we never went up the stairs to see the layout. But if you click on the link above it will take you to their villa page of their website.
The inside of the bar was stunning, but no one wanted to sit inside in this heat. Mainland Italy, like most of Europe was in the middle of the heatwave. 38-39 degrees during the day, 32-33 at night. Elba was actually a bit cooler and with a breeze so we chose a good place to be that week.
The beach we were on in Elba seemed to be rocky and pebbly, definitely not sandy, and the water was as clear as can be. I’m not sure if this is the same for the whole of the island, but double check before you go if you want sandy beaches. We only had to take a few steps down to find our beds, which are allocated to you when you arrive and are yours for the duration of your stay. You get a choice, or we did because it wasn’t completely full, but get there early on your first day to choose a spot you prefer.
The beach restaurant was nice and casual, salads, sandwiches or fish/meat selection, all the Italians eat at 1pm (il tocco!). You don’t need a watch in Italy. You will see everyone get up from their sunbeds, leave the office, close the shop or showroom, batton down the hatches and ticket offices at around 2 minutes to one to get ready for lunch at 1pm, so if you want a late lunch, get there around 2, because most places stop serving food around 3pm.
If you like water sports there is a camp site with a water sports centre next door to the hotel. My OH did the usual of booking a dive and left me on the beach. Previously he’s done this at night time where there was only me and a stray dog for company in the middle of Brazil, but this time was lovely. A few quiet hours to myself, reading and sleeping under the sunshade and a paddle in the sparkling and cool water.
Sunsets at the villa bar in the evening were stunning, uninterrupted views of the sun going down, whilst sipping cocktails and listening to music. It really was so relaxing and tranquil.
The food in both hotel restaurants was delicious. There was Ristorante Del Parco restaurant which was the main restaurant where breakfast had been served only that morning. Alternatively, for a more chi chi romantic vibe, there was Ristorante Ottonella around the pool area.
We only really had two full nights there and would have been very happy going back to both restaurants again for another two nights had we not had to get back to Tuscany and work.
Conclusion is that this was a luxury treat in the middle of a hectic few months, and we would return here without hesitation as a retreat holiday for a short break.