The Alba sul Mare is a small 3 star family-run hotel overlooking the beach at the Viareggio end of Lido di Camaiore. My wife and I stayed there for a fortnight from 24 September 2007 to relax and recover from our daughter's wedding in Siena. It was my first visit to Italy apart from a weekend in Rome. There was a slightly end-of-season feel about the town and the hotel as, for example, the dining room closed while we were there. A number of hotels closed at the end of September.
Our room was at the front, looking out over the beachfront businesses, with a wonderful view of the sea. Rooms at the back of the hotel look towards the Apuan Alps but I do not know the extent to which other buildings interfere with the view.
Our bedroom was simply furnished but very comfortable and immaculately clean. (I often have a problem sleeping the first night in a hotel because the beds differ but no problem here.)
The bathroom is continental, with a shower and bidet rather than a bath.
The hotel is airconditioned with a temperature controller in each room, although the airconditioning seemed to stop after 30 September. As we had our window open all the time the airconditioning was academic.
The public areas of the hotel can only be described as elegant and it was the website picture of the reception and sitting area which first caught my eye.
Breakfast was good, with the emphasis on cereals, fruit and pastries rather than cold meats and cheese.
The staff are brilliant, always friendly and welcoming, always helpful and most with some English. They gave the hotel a relaxed, gentle atmosphere and it was perfect for us to use as a base for a mixture of sunbathing and sightseeing. It took about five minutes from the hotel to reach the autostrade. Pisa, Lucca and Carrara are all within 30 minutes.
Internet use was free, unlike our 4* Siena hotel.
Laundry took two days, clothes were washed and ironed properly and inexpensively.
I have only one, totally unfair, criticism of the hotel: it is an hour and a quarter's hard driving to Rapallo. Some of the best Scuba diving in that area of Italy is in the Portofino Marine Park (go with Abyss Diving in Rapallo) and the journey is just that bit too much to do every day.
We will be in Tuscany next September and expect to stay at the Alba sul Mare again. We recommend it to anyone who prefers the personal atmosphere of a well run small hotel to a large impersonal hotel where the facilities of pools, exercise rooms and saunas appear to be more important.
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