For once, I kept notes of our experiences in hotels.
Naples: Hotel Miramare. A great experience, if a bit on the pricey side. I could have gone with less expensive accommodations, but when arranging a room on the Internet in a city I don’t know and has a reputation for being–er–something of an adventure for tourists, I wanted to go with something very reliable. It was worth the price. The hotel arranged for our ride from the airport (45 Euros and for the driver/guide to Pompeii (around $175 Euros, which did not include the actual guide at Pompeii (another $100 Euros, which is standard), which I thought was fairly painful until I realized all we got for that–a ride in a comfortable car with a knowledgeable and intelligent guide who knew everything about Naples and Pompeii). Everyone in the hotel earnestly listened to our bad Italian without judgment, most spoke at least basic English, and the room was clean, well appointed, and attractive. The best part was the breakfast, however, server on a rooftop garden overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt Vesuvius, with fresh pastries and excellent coffee and agreeable attendants.
Bari: Hotel Boston. Great location, nearby the old town and close to lots of shopping and restaurants, only a five minute ride from train station. Good, if unremarkable, breakfast, helpful clerks, and a manned bar/coffee bar where they let us hang out off and on during the rainy afternoon after we checked out. Very modern. Internet in the lobby. Excellent enormous bathtub, which always gets big stars from me.
Matera: Hotel Sant’Angelo, a sassi hotel. (The sassi are the caves carved into the soft rock of the mountains) the best of the lot, though it is a little quirky. Our room felt like part of an ancient church, with a
big arch and windows letting in light from the front. On the downside, the caves are soft rock, which means they shed a little bit and I had to brush off my black clothing once in awhile, and I did see a spider or two, but hardly worth mentioning. The silence at night was deep and restful, the bells a delight in the morning, and the patios are wide and gracefully adorned with plants and sculptures. One night, the moon was rising over the caves on the other side of the river, and I wrote and wrote and wrote (all of which was, sadly, lost when I lost the journal, but that’s life. I remember the experience and the sketching and the plot points for the novel) on the patio outside my room. The breakfast was excellent–I especially loved the pear juice and our server, already mentioned elsewhere here.
Rome: Hotel Principessa Tea. Supposedly a three star joint, and while it was in a good location, with helpful guides who spoke excellent English
and are obviously used to tourists, the breakfast was mediocre,
only coffee from a cafeteria-style machine. The bathroom was a pretty horrific bright pink, which I could have lived with, but the shower head did not attach to the wall, and electrical tape was wrapped unreassuringly around the cord to the blow dryer. Also, if you are interested in such things, the bidet had no attached plumbing. The room was a generous size for a European city hotel room, and there were plenty of windows for cross ventilation (which would be great in the high summer), and the beds were very comfortable. Not bad, but again, the location was terrific.
Ah, I see on the site that the hotel is undergoing renovations, so perhaps all those niggling inconveniences will be addressed. With that and some real (brewed) coffee for breakfast, I would be quite happy with the
Hawkhurst. Casa de la Gina. Cozy. Excellent breakfast, cooked to order. Banoffee pudding for Sunday afternoon. Built in tour guide. <g>