“THERE’S A SMALL HOTEL…”
Although it lacked the wishing well of the song, this small hotel fulfilled all our wishes for an enjoyable stay. It’s located an easy 50-meter or so stroll from the beach. (Just keep an eye out for bike riders when crossing the paved bike way that separates the hotel from the beach.) Then a few steps lead up to the promenade, where it’s a couple of more steps down to the beach. (By the way, we noticed that some bike riders didn’t get the message that the promenade is only for pedestrians, so it’s a good idea to look both ways there also.)
One lounge, a beach chair, and an umbrella are included in the room rate. We were there in early May, so the passes we were given at the reception for a particular spot weren’t really necessary: at that time, you can pretty much sit wherever you want, as the beach is full of emptiness (although quite a few Italians and their kids come for the day on weekends, and, as a result, you may have to dodge a few whizzing soccer balls along the shore line).
By the way, if you need a bathroom, we’d recommend the long row of toilets just below and at a right angle to the promenade. They’re only a short trudge through the sand from the Bellevue’s beach area, looked brand new to us, and are clean and well equipped. (Until we discovered them, we’d been treading very lightly in the toilets just behind the beach area—for reasons we’ll leave to your imagination.)
We should mention here that if you come by car and don’t find a parking space in the small area behind the hotel (it’s kind of tight there and the spaces are limited), you can also park just next door in the Excelsior, one of the Bellevue’s sister hotels. They have a large lot, and the spaces are covered. We were able to find a nice end spot there. In the main season, though, spaces will likely be a bit scarcer.
We had originally booked our room for a week from Austria (through the hotel itself, rather than an agency, by the way); however, we liked the place so much we asked if we could extend for another three days. And even though the hotel was pretty much booked solid for that time because of a 4-day holiday in Austria, Monica, the personable and always helpful manager, nevertheless managed to find us a room.
Our original room was the Basic one, and had a nice side sea view; however, it was already booked for those three days. The new room we were given was the Standard room, which is slightly larger and had a beautiful direct sea view over the Bellevue pool area. And although it has a higher rate, we were only charged the price of the Basic room for the three additional days. Plus, it was right next door, so we didn’t have to move our things very far.
The rooms themselves have flat-panel TVs, a free pin-coded safe, and a small fridge (stocked with two gratis bottles of mineral water to quench your travel thirst on arrival).
The beds are a bit firm, but very comfortable, and afforded us a good night’s sleep (except for the morning the devastating Italian earthquake gave us an unexpected wakeup call via a 4 a.m. shaking). At first glance, the pillows look a bit too flat for comfort; surprisingly, however, they also turned out to be quite comfortable.
The bathrooms are good-sized, with toilet, bidet, and a large sink and mirror, which in our first room was lit by four bright bulbs that reminded us of the ones in the “star’s” dressing room. (In the new room, there were only two bulbs over the mirror—and they were the energy-saver types that take a minute or so to be well-lit. But then I guess Italy wouldn’t be Italy if everything were totally uniform.)
The showers have accordion-like doors (which take a bit of getting used to) and a nice strong spray attachment. The shower itself is large enough, although it has a bit of an unusual shape to it. (It’s hard to describe; you have to see it.) The ventilator fan comes on only when you turn on the ceiling light and takes a minute or two to come to life and another bit to silence itself once the light is switched off.
As for the public areas of the hotel, they’re clean and very pleasant. From the reception, you go up a few steps to the bar area. Then, to your left is a small room where you’ll find a computer (you’ll need a log-in from the reception) and some board games and decks of cards. It’s very cozy in there when the weather turns dreary outside. Unfortunately, a couple of days during our stay were rainy and windy, so we spent a bit of time there playing gin rummy until we could no longer hear the pitter patter of the raindrops and the whistling of the wind.
On the opposite end of the bar is a long enclosed sitting room fronting on the outside of the hotel, where your can read, chat, or sip a drink. (Smoking is allowed there; however, it wasn’t really noticeable in the bar area.)
To the left of the steps leading up to the hotel entrance, and running the length of the dining room, is another area with tables and chairs where smoking is also allowed and where you can also order a drink. As I recall, both of these areas can be opened or closed off depending on the weather.
We don’t feel qualified to comment on life around the pool area, as we’re not pool “people.” (We spent the whole day on the beach.) It’s a beautiful pool, though, and there’s a snack bar at one end if you still need some sustenance after the huge breakfast spread.
Of course, one of the most important considerations in choosing a hotel is the food—and at the Bellevue it’s good and there’s plenty of it.
At breakfast, you can choose from cereals, the usual assortment of cheese and cold cuts, white and whole grain rolls, boiled eggs, scrambled eggs, and bowls of yogurt and fruit, such as pineapples (there were fresh ones on a couple of occasions). There’s also a large assortment of fruit and herb teas, along with English tea. If you’re still hungry after all that, there are some tempting slices of cake and some very addicting croissants.
There was only a single seating for dinner (at 7:00) when we were there (it might be different in the height of the summer season, though). You choose your dinner menu at breakfast, and it’s duly noted by Antonio, the head waiter. I’m a vegetarian, and the few times when there wasn’t a meat- or fishless choice, he always came up with an appetizing alternative for me, like risotto or a pasta dish. (Many thanks for your patience, Antonio!)
By the way, our other waiters, Emmanuelle and Maricica, were also very attentive (a “dead” plate never remained on the table for long, the correct utensil never failed to appear, and the food arrived at the table steaming hot), and were always ready with a smile and a friendly “Buongiorno!” or “Buonasera!” when we entered the dining room.
There are several tables filled with all manner of tasty appetizers, and it doesn’t actually do it justice to just call it a “salad” bar. The main courses were uniformly good—and well presented—and there were some delicious, and very imaginative, soups. However, the desserts—especially the pastries—deserve special mention. The Linzertorte we had one night was as good as, or better than, any we have had in Austria, and the Apfelstrudel…sensational.
All in all, we had a great time at the Bellevue, made that much more enjoyable by the friendliness and helpfulness of the hotel staff. Again, a special thanks to Monica and the two other ladies—Federica and Manuela—who “manned” the reception desk (along with another helpful young lady, whose name we unfortunately didn’t get), all of whom were ready to answer our questions, even when they were deep in the middle of something on their computers. And a special thank you to the friendly lady who kept our rooms so spotless throughout our stay.
And before I forget, a big Grazie! to the young man behind the Bellevue bar (whose name I also did not get) who directed me to an optician in Bibione when one evening just before supper, I had a slight “issue” with my glasses: Embarrassing as it is to admit, I accidentally sat on them and bent the frame, rendering them unusable. When I reached the optician’s, right at closing time, the nice lady there straightened the frames out…at no charge.
To sum it all up, we came to the Bellevue as guests…and we left as friends.