My wife and I stayed here for 4 nights in late September 2011. The location and the views are fantastic. It's a turn of the century hotel that really has the potential to be something special. We sucked it up and booked one of the terrace suites and the terrace alone was worth it. Big, marble, with 270 degree views up and down the coast including views of the SML harbor. 2 lounge chairs plus a round table and chairs. Perfect for sipping wine at the end of the day or for sneaking in a late afternoon nap.
The room was very large as was the bathroom. The shower stall, however, was like a phone booth (the tub also has a hand shower option if you get claustrophobic).
The grounds were very well kept and from the outside it was really a striking place. As others have noted, the interior was a bit worn. For instance, the doors in our room that opened out to the terrace were warped and rubbed against the floor, and the walls in the room had scuffs from luggage banging against them. The furnishings were period pieces and they showed some wear. A small flatscreen TV with a handful of channels (none in English), no radio or audio system, and no clock but I guess that's what a smartphone is for. Our entry door was also tough to open and close. If the management/owners spent some money on an interior refresh and upkeep it would really elevate this place (to be fair, we stayed at the end of the season so it's possible that the touch-ups are taken care of when the hotel shuts down for a few months).
Besides the great views, the hotel is just a short walk from the town of SML. It was an easy and worthwhile 5 minute trek both day and night. SML is really a great little town and we were very happy that we chose this location instead of our original plan to stay in Rapallo. SML also provides you with an option to take the train (also more or less a 5 minute walk from the hotel) or a boat (maybe more like 10-15 minutes to walk around the harbor) to Cinque Terre.
I saw some references to the pool and want to raise awareness that most people elect to skip the pool and instead continue down the property to the sea (another 1 or 2 flights of stairs down). Lounge chairs are laid out for guests with umbrellas and waiter service, and if it gets too hot you can cool yourself off in the sea. We only went down there one day but really enjoyed it.
Besides breakfast (included), food at the hotel is expensive. We had lunch at the pool restaurant one day (it was good), but chose to dine in town for our other meals. The food prices were about 2x at the hotel.
US standards of hotels are different from Italian standards so a 5 star rating in the US is not the same as a 5 star rating in Italy. In Italy, it's more of a comparison of core services (multi-lingual staff, 24 hour desk, ...) as compared with luxury and service ratings. So if you are American and compare the Imperiale Palace against a universal 5 star property like Hotel Splendido you will quickly come to realize that beyond the views these places are not in the same league. Neither are the room rates though.
Overall, the views are what made the place. It's a little worn inside, the staff is pretty friendly and helpful, and the convenient location to town make the Imperiale a worthwhile consideration.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Imperiale Palace