La Spiaggia…its a charming hotel, right on the bay. I traveled there in April 2013 for just one night with my husband, mother in law and her friend. One of the reasons we chose La Spiaggia was the ease with which we could make a reservation online, via email. Maria answered my email within a day, despite it being their slow season, and when I had to contact her about changing our plans she was very flexible.
We had planned to arrive at about noon so we could do some hiking, but little did we know our action-packed road trip through Italy would have a detour that would delay our arrival to 7:00pm instead. La Spiaggia was indeed a sight for sore eyes. The town of Monterosso al Mare is split into what seemed like a newer section and the old section, connected by a pedestrian tunnel. La Spiaggia is on the newer side of town. After 8 long hours of driving (details of our route snafu to follow), we were so happy to see the cheery building right on the boardwalk lining the sea. Maria greeted us with an offer of a glass of wine, and helped us load our bags onto their lift (which had a strict weight limit). Each room has a keyless entry, but unlike chain hotels, guests must return the key card to their room upon check out. The room was just right- a bit small to leave two suitcases open on the floor at once, but completely adequate. We stayed on the (very high up) third floor, and had a charming balcony overlooking the beach and sea. The little balcony had two small chairs, perfect for sitting and enjoying the scenery. We opened the slats on the doors and listened to the sounds of the ocean as we went to sleep (which was wonderful, but the street below does start stirring quite early). It was a cozy little bathroom that was very functional.
La Spiaggia had an impressive breakfast buffet in the morning. Hard boiled eggs, Prosciutto and salami, different cheeses, cereals, toast/jam, and yogurt. I was most impressed that when I asked for gluten-free items they delivered me a large basket full of Shor brand biscuits, cookies and breads. There was an outdoor courtyard with tables and chairs that would be SO wonderful to relax on if the weather were a bit warmer.
The family of the proprietor, Andrea, has been in the town of Monterosso al Mare for generations, and the family photos are all over the walls of the dining area. It was fun to see what the town looked like 50 80, 100 years ago. I really wanted to like Andrea, and expected to after perusing TripAdvisor prior to our trip, but I found him to be a bit abrupt, not as engaging as other travelers had reported. We only had one night, though, and so I am not sure I would let that deter me from going back. On the other hand, we passed many other bed and breakfasts that looked equally as charming, so when I go back I think I might try something new.
(If you are driving to Monterosso al Mare from La Spezia, be warned that as of a month ago [on 4/19/13] SP370/SP51 was closed just before Vernazza. We thought we'd drive from Monaco to La Spezia and take SP370/SP51 north to see all the towns in the Cinque Terre chain on our way to Monterosso al Mare, but when we were ALMOST THERE we were turned back, because the road was washed out. We went back to La Spezia, but rather than getting back on the Autostrada, we took SP1 to Pian di Barca, and then went east on SP38 to SP370. It was a LOVELY drive, but its a series of windey roads that slow you down).