My wife and I spent our two nights in Cinque Terre at Hotel Villa Argentina after reading the reviews on TripAdvisor. Most importantly, if you are arriving to Riomaggiore via train, be prepared to walk up a steep inclines and be a little disoriented when you arrive. By the way, the train is a great way to travel across Italy.
When exiting the train station, take your immediate right (follow the people/crowds) and continue on through the pedestrian tunnel that runs along the interior of the railway tunnel. Once you exit the south end of the tunnel, begin walking up the village center, if you have heavy suitcases, pace yourself, especially on hot days. The walk from the pedestrian tunnel to the hotel is roughly half a mile up hill, keep the faith, the hotel is actually up there. Evidently there is a bus, but we could not find it anywhere.
Hotel Villa Argentina is situated at the "top" of Riomaggiore, with fantastic views of the town and ocean from the open balcony (equipped with tables and umbrellas for relaxing). A select few rooms also share these breathtaking views of the very colorful, intimate, and historic fishing village, in addition to the ocean. The lobby is open and is part of a shared space for the free breakfast service in the mornings from 8am-10am and is very clean. There was a very eager attendant who ran our heavier luggage up to the room; there are no elevators, just stairs. We found our room to be facing away from the village and ocean, which meant our window opened directly to the side of the hill and thus, we had no natural light ever enter the room, literally. An open window would allow a breeze into the room, but the only light came from the relatively harsh and unfiltered lighting of the dated fixtures in the room. This was a big downer for us, it's not comfortable to be in a hotel room that is constantly dark and that feels like a dank cave. The room, however, was clean, had a shower that actually provided warm water for more than 5 minutes, a full tub, desk, armoire, and bed with visibly clean linens. The mattress, however, was relatively uncomfortable, but after spending 9 hours hiking Cinque Terre and putting up with the throngs of tourists, you will barely notice what feels to be plies of cardboard hiding within the mattress. It's also important to note that the walls were paper thin, you can hear every toilet flush, every shower being taken, and (from our room), the echoes of every voice that passed by the tunnel that led to our window. If you were lucky like us, you will have fellow guests that are mostly quiet and respectful. Pay attention to the ongoing showers in the AM, though, if you're not in before 9am, you might find that the hot water I mentioned doesn't exist. Aim for PM showers and early AM showers if you want a nice shower unsullied by insufficient hot water.
Maid service begins early, if you're not awake by 8:30am, be prepared to receive a knock on your door, a 5 second wait, and the abrupt entrance of a very kind, but surprised hotel employee to find you dazed and confused in bed, or running to grab some clothes after just finish a shower. They appear to try and get in and out while you're eating "breakfast" down in the lobby. My wife and I came back just as they finished to a very clean room, but found that they bleach EVERYTHING. The room will wreak of bleach, FYI, if you have a sensitive nose or respiratory system. The excessive use of bleach on every surface is somewhat disconcerting, especially when paired with the overpowering aroma. Keep your clothes away from the floor, just to be safe to avoid bleach stains.
Breakfast was not what we expected, especially from reading the reviews. There was the usual arrangement of Italian pastries and sweets, peppered with some granola, cereal, and milk that was left out in opened cartons along the table. If you are like my wife and I, and require a good cup of caffeine to start your day, take care not to expect it from the automated machine they provide you with for breakfast. We must have been spoiled at our previous lodgings and B&B's, as they all made an effort to make fresh espresso-based beverages to your liking with fully functional espresso machines. Not so here. Your cup will fill with what looks like muddy water, which is then topped with some more water, then a white liquid that somewhat resembles milk. The taste is no better, skip it. The pastries were not very good, when compared to our other free breakfast experiences and the meat options were clearly the discount special from a local COOP or market. The reviews we read really had our hopes high for breakfast and we were very disappointed. My advice, carbo-load and sugar-up on the stuff they provide, make it to Manarola or any of the other towns, and grab a 3 euro fresh Nutella or fruit crepe and a cappuccino prepared by a human being!
All in all, my wife and I looked at other places in town and Hotel Villa Argentina is clearly one of the better establishments. You can come back to a clean room, sleep somewhat soundly, and be rested enough to get the hell out of the cave, and enjoy the immense beauty of the Cinque Terre. The price makes it worth while. If they made an effort to make a few adjustments, they could easily be within reach of the "Very Good" category.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Villa Argentina dominates the antique village of Riomaggiore .The small e quaint hotel has most its room heated with view of the sea and small sunny terrace ,all of which included private satellite TV, safe and ceiling fans. The hotel is in perfect position to begin some beautiful walks(via dell’amore) and hikes unite the towns in the midst of mother nature’s untainted scenery. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Villa Argentina Riomaggiore, Cinque Terre, Italy