Sadly, I did not have the wonderful experience at La Selvella that so many others did. In fact, I would urge anyone reading these reviews and considering a stay at La Selvella to reconsider!!! Please do not tarnish your Tuscany experience as I did, especially at the end of the trip. Please note that I have left other reviews for other places I stayed that are very complimentary, so I am not on some vendetta. Additionally, I am not a high maintenance traveller - my husband and I are bicycle tourists - we tour countries on our bicycles and recently completed a trip from Munich to Rome. We are not needy, demanding, loud, or dirty - we have a taste for adventure, culture, and good food. We chose La Selvella based on the reviews and the desire to find a place in Tuscany that was less touristy. I contacted Marina, who replied with a choice of a smaller room for 140 euro or a larger room for 150 euro for the two nights. She also mentioned a lot of lovely classes and fun things to do at her agriturismo, which sounded great so we confirmed. I mentioned to her that we were cycling from Siena (~80km) that day and were hoping to arrive early afternoon, but it's hard to predict with bicycles, considering all the hills in Tuscany. No response.
Our first mistake was following the map provided on Marina's website rather than her written directions. The map took us in a different direction, down down down a mountain, so much so that when we finally realized something was amiss, we had to go back up up up that mountain and then up some more to reach La Selvella. As anyone who has ridden a loaded bicycle knows, this is no easy feat and definitely added a whole hour to our ride. That said, we arrived at 6pm and Marina was out grocery shopping, I believe. We had no issue waiting for her return. We enjoyed the comfortable patio until we saw her car pull in the drive. It was at that instant that everything plummeted downhill. Marina saw us waiting and did not hurry to greet us. When she finally pulled the car to the kitchen area, she got out, walked over to us and said, "You reserved by email, right? This is your room. I didn't know when you were arriving. Dinner is on the patio. Put your bicycles over there (next to the rubbish bins) I have to go because I have fresh things in the car." And that was it. In fact, we had no idea whether she was the proprietor or an assistant. She did not introduce herself at all. The tone of her voice was unpleasant and accusatory - we sat on the bed in our room wondering if we had done something wrong and were even afraid to ask what time dinner was since we had no idea. We felt terrible and had no idea why. I don't think ANYONE has the right to make their guests feel uncomfortable and unwelcome. It was a horrible way to start our stay. :(
I will say that dinner was delicious. We were given a wine menu (priced extra from half board).
The next morning at breakfast we saw other couples get served the customary cakes and croissants (as we did too) as well as yogurt and cereals. We waited for some time before finally getting up from the table to ask for yogurt and cereal as well. At that moment, Marina came in to the breakfast room and said, "Please don't hate me, but I need to switch your room. I made a mistake and need your current room for guests who are arriving today. Oh, and my credit card machine broke this morning, so you'll need to pay cash. If you need cash, you can go into Radicofani to get some." Sigh - I had hoped not to pay cash, but these things happen. However, it was a bit of a pain for us to switch rooms because as I mentioned, riding our bicycles, we had very few places where we stayed two nights, so it was a welcome rest to be able to unpack, air out, and clean some clothes. This was not possible.
Being without a car, we were a bit restrained in our activities, but we had no issue making a hike out of Radicofani, and Marina had offered to drive us there if we needed her to.
That evening at dinner, we sat down and were immediately given an open bottle of house wine. What a pleasant surprise, we thought - assuming it was part of dinner since it was already open, we didn't ask for it, and we hadn't been given the wine menu. Again, dinner was spectacular - Marina is a first class chef.
The next morning we sat down for breakfast and heard Marina talking to a large group of Italian guests and serving them breakfast. We heard her ask them if they would like yogurt and cereal. She then came to our table, gave us each a piece of cake, got our coffees, and then disappeared. Since I don't eat cake for breakfast, I was hoping for the yogurt, but again, no offer and we were totally alone. My husband wandered over to the kitchen after we waited a good 20 minutes and finally asked if we could also have some cereals with yogurt, and the staff kindly obliged. We were completely confused as to why we were being treated differently at breakfast, and in fact since the minute we arrived at La Selvella. Even the Italian guests, who were all cyclists (not touring, but sport), were allowed to keep their bicycles in their rooms, where ours had to be stored by the trash.
The final nail in the coffin came at checkout, however. Marina handed us our bill and explained that we would pay 140 euro (as agreed) for the first night, and 150 euro for the second night because it was the larger, nicer room, and then 14 euro for the two bottles of wine! We immediately stated that we did not think it was fair to pay for the larger room when we had not requested it and it was her mistake that she mixed up her reservations and had to make us move to another room, an inconvenience for us. And then to make us pay extra!?!?! As for the wine, well, we asked why were given the bottle the second night when we hadn't ordered it, and Marina responded, "Well, my mistake since the other table ordered it, but you didn't refuse it." Unbelievable.
As a side note: La Selvella has a luxurious air about it, but it is still a farm, so the dogs live mostly outdoors but are welcome indoors as well. It is not uncommon for the dogs to beg at the table during breakfast and dinner and if you leave your room door open, don't be surprised if a dog walks in and makes herself comfortable. We like dogs very much, but it may be uncomfortable for some, especially in the eating area - the dogs aren't exactly well washed.
Truthfully, it is so hard to express in words how we felt staying at La Selvella. I have never stayed in a place that made me feel so unwelcome and as though I had done something wrong. Never once did I mislead Marina in thinking that we would be arriving earlier, or that we would want to pay extra for the larger room. I'm not sure what we did, but I will never ever return to La Selvella and I have sworn to warn any potential new customers about the nature of Marina and her operation. It is no place to enjoy your vacation, I promise you. PLEASE don't make the same mistake we did.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- ...A wonderful place......to discover, in the vicinity of the beautiful city of Radicofani, Montalcino, San Quirico D'Orcia, Pienza and Montepulciano, near the hot springs of San Filippo, Bagni Vignoni and San Casciano Dei Bagni, Selvella stands the ancient buildings carefully restored to provide a relaxing stay in the countryside. ... more less
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