First, let's set things straight: this "palazzo" is neither a palace nor even a palazzo by Italian standards. It is a large house with formerly large rooms now divided and converted into smaller dwellings and re-labeled "hotel". The establishment does not feature the official Italian plaque indicating the number of stars awarded to it. The abode is set in a nice suburban location with a distant view of Siena, in the middle of a garden that could be very nice if only it weren't so parched.
The whole place looks and feels very much 1880s, including the faded floral motif paintings on the ceilings and the ill-fitting doors. We understand that this is part of the artistic, "time-travel" impression you're supposed and meant to experience when deciding to stay in a place like this, and that's fine. There will be some rust and crust, there will be opening windows that won't close and closet doors that won't stay open, the aged, tiled floors will be uneven and the sound-proofing will remain a thing of the distant future.
The day manager, who seems to run the place almost singlehanded, was welcoming and very nice, explaining what to do and see and even offering bus tickets for the ride into town (better than the 15-minute uphill walk on any sweltering day!).
Our room was large, the closet space was scarce and there was an (adequately operational) air conditioning machine attached to one of the walls. There even was a super-mini-safe in another wall, operated by an old key and cutely "concealed" by a painted motif. That and all of the above was fine, it being part of the self-styled "palazzo" experience.
However, as I titled this article, going "artistic" is not an excuse for everything, and this hotel unfortunately exhibited many, many shortcomings. Indeed, whenever "old and charming" spreads to bathroom fittings and electrical appliances, you know you're in trouble... For us, it began with only a trickle of water coming out of the sink faucet, and with both bedside lamps not working (one with a dead bulb, the other for an unknown reason). Considering the price Palazzo Valli was asking for the room (yes, "old and charming" come with a price tag that's very much "today"!), those details should never have been overlooked. All those things were fixed, but we had to ask.
The other unacceptable thing was that the bathroom was much, much too small (it was quite clean, though, or at least as old white basins and things can look). Two people could barely stand in it side by side, but not move without hitting one another. The appliances were antiquated, and the shower cabin, equipped with hard sliding doors, was so teeny that I could just stand in it. At 1.85 meters tall, I'm no giant, but flexing limbs to wash armpits or legs required a contortionist's skills and the whole experience proved quite painful. It would have been almost impossible for ageing people, and absolutely impossible for anyone overweight, as they would just not have fitted into that shower. Using it was always unpleasant, to say the least, which is really a shame in mid-August when the temperature rises above 40 degrees Celsius and you want to take at least two showers a day.
That was not the end of it. The bed, although quite wide enough for two people, was of such poor quality that every time one of us turned over, movement was transmitted to all parts of the bed so that the other would bong up and down as in echo... Ideal when you need your rest at night --not to mention that there is also some sort of social club for senior citizens just across the narrow vale, where tangos and paso dobles blare out of the speakers (and into you room) well into the night... Well, those guys have to have their fun, right? Compared to that, the fact that bathroom products (of average quality) were not replenished (one had to ask, again) was a trifle.
Oh, there was also the day (we had booked for 4 nights) when a savvy maid had turned off the air conditioning when cleaning our room, so that it was all warm and toasty when we returned exhausted in the afternoon after a long walk in the sweltering heat... So thoughtful for guests!
There was also the internet. First, the signal was so weak that the computer could not even log on, and when it managed to, the pages couldn't load (even text-based pages), or took ages, and then the signal went down again... Irritating beyond description. So, guess what? I had to complain again. The manager acknowledged the issue and gave me information to log onto another wifi network. That one still worked intermittently, but admittedly much better than the first one. Nevertheless, don't expect any reliable and durable connection --and let's not blame the remoteness, because in the McDonald's a quarter mile away, the connection was superb, so it IS doable.
Last thing: breakfast. Unremarkable selection, eggs (of any kind) and bacon were never in sight, the choice of yogurt flavors quickly ended up every morning with those that guests never picked (banana), and the supposed ham was in fact shoulder of pork adorned with fat and rind. The only very good item, aside from the jams that were always plentiful, was salami (local pork sausage), but the slices always disappeared quickly (of course), and the staff did not seem to notice that there was none left until you asked them. After a while, it gets really tiring to have to ask for this and that in a hotel that places itself in that category.
In summary, the Palazzo Valli proved quite disappointing, with drawbacks far outweighing the pluses, even taking into account the "artistic" factor. In many of the practical, comfort-related departments, it looked more like a youth hostel, and even though it does have a certain charm and ambiance, it certainly is not worth the price they ask. To be definitely avoided until they bring it up to speed --or divide prices by two, at least.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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thank you very much for the detailed comments regarding your experience in our hotel - we thank you for taking the time to do this. Of course, if you had advised us of your lack of satisfaction during your stay perhaps we would have been able to resolve this for you.
We are obviously very sorry that your stay at our hotel did not satisfy you, also because this is the first time this has happened since Spring 2011 when we took over the management of the hotel. It almost seems that you were staying in another hotel when we compare your feedback with that of other guests that were in the hotel at the same time as you.
It is curious that the highlights of Palazzo di Valli which are so appreciated by other guests seem to be negative elements for you: the charm of an authentic 1700 building; the tranquility of the hotel and the surrounding environment; the good quality of the breakfast and especially our constant endeavours to make our guests feel at ease.
We are happy when our guests offer constructive criticism in order for us to improve the service we offer and we will definitely take note of some of your points. But we feel obliged to clarify some of your claims which could be misconstrued by future guests.
We are sure that there is not need to explain what an Italian “Palazzo” is, nor why the faded frescoes are such (they are original), and we won’t discuss the banana yogurt. No comments are required.
We do feel the need to confirm that all products used in the hotel, whether they be toiletries or food products used for breakfast, are all of top quality. Our suppliers are able to guarantee this.
We know that everyone is used to their own materass, so comfort is subjective, but we can assure you that our materasses are of the highest quality.
Electrical equipment and plumbing are fully efficient and are renewed frequently (checked frequently). The entire air conditioning system was installed four months ago. Of course things can break - such as the faucet in your bathroom or the light bulb in your bedside lamp. These questions would have been noticed and addressed the next time the maid cleaned the room, but we appreciate you having advised us so we were able to resolve the question within 15 minutes.
The shape and style of the building makes every room in the hotel unique. There are rooms with large bathrooms and others with smaller bathrooms. This is one of the main reasons why our rooms are divided into “Classic” and “Superior”. The room in which you stayed was a classic room with 2 large windows looking over Siena and its surroundings and it has hosted, I can assure you, people of all sizes and ages.
With regards to the internet connection you are right. It is irritating having to wait for pages to load but as you will appreciate this problem is not that of the hotel but of the provider which for a while was unable to guarantee a stable connection. So contrary to what you mention in your comments the hotel cannot be held responsible for this problem which we have flagged many times to the company concerned (for the record, the only McDonalds which exists in Siena can be found to the north of the city more than 6 km from Palazzo di Valli).
Opinions on the breakfast are of course subjective as can be seen by the content of many other reviews. We are pleased, however, that at least here you were able to find something positive to say. For your information, we buy ham and salami from the same local producer.
Last but not least on the question of price. We consider this aspect to be extremely important and we find your comments on this argument very superficial and misplaced.
We make every effort on a daily basis to offer a fair rate based on services offered, endeavouring to maintain a stable price divided simply into different seasons. Although it is now normal to find variations in hotel prices, even during the same day, we believe that it is more correct to offer a certain consistency in prices both during high and low season.
Your stay took place during the “Palio” (the world famous horse race) which represents the highest season for the city of Siena. It was certainly not possible to offer discounts during that time but we wish to underline that the rate you find so exaggerated is our normal high season rate with no increase due to the Palio. This does not happen so often, not just in Italy, but all over.
Moreover we are sorry that we did not understand your displeasure. Palazzo di Valli is a small hotel and our aim is to make our guests feel completely at home. We thought that this was also the case for you.
We had not realised that your frequent requests (upon which we immediately took action) were actually intended to highlight shortcomings.
We apologise if our reply is too long. We do not indulge in thank yous and self-congratulation in reply to positive comments but we thought it absolutely essential to answer your review in detail to show how important the reviews of our customers are to us and to show that we will endeavour, as always to do our best to draw useful ideas even from negative comments.
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.