I was arriving in Hotel San Giovanni after a long drive from Chambery, crossing Tunnel du Frejus and the Alps in pouring rain but luckily on empty roads – it was May 1, 2012. I have never been to Saluzzo before and the sight of it emerging from the rainy fog was fascinating.
It was not easy to get to the hotel even with the GPS, since it is located in the historic city center with limited traffic; add to this the deluge and the main road closed for repairs; yet after some time I was finally there.
When one steps from her room onto the terrace, the view on the 14th century church of San Giovanni and the courtyard bathed in blooming rhododendrons makes one forget the trouble of getting there. There was some special magic to be in such an elegant and ancient place in a rainy day. The total absence of crowds well compensated for the weather. Indeed the outside terrace is perhaps the best feature of the hotel. It has many more:
1) The hotel’s design implies strong 4 stars if not more. It is richly decorated, keeping in a dark monastic style. The doors to the rooms are uniquely done, they are double-doors in fact. The elevator in a place so overwhelmingly full of character and charm was another comfort.
2) My room #3 was of an average to smaller size, with a comfortable bed. That room was centrally positioned, with the best view on the church and the courtyard. It was May 1 and the hotel was literally empty, perhaps this is why I got such a superior room. It was very quiet and provided for the great quality of sleep.
3) The bathroom looked smashing, decorated in somber grey and white colors. It had a huge bathtub and a bidet; there were nice toiletries and a bath robe.
4) The courtyard was absolutely splendid; the rhododendrons were blooming, making the place magnificent. The courtyard was part of the convent of San Giovanni where the hotel is situated. It is open to the public, but on May 1 there was literally no one disturbing the quietness. The view on the church towers from the terrace, framed at the bottom by the courtyard was probably one of the most amazing sceneries I had ever seen in any hotel.
5) There was excellent WiFi connection in the room, both my Android phone and computer worked very well with it.
6) Parking was safe and free in the hotel’s front yard.
7) The location of the hotel in Saluzzo is perfect, with the church of San Giovanni entrance around the corner; it is close to the Casa Cavassa, Torre Civica, the Castle of Marquises of Saluzzo, the panoramic terrace over Saluzzo and the main piazza Salita al Castello. It is also marvelous to drive to the nearby Abbazia di Staffarda, Castello della Manta and to the town of Savigliano; I greatly enjoyed visiting these historically, artistically and architecturally amazing places.
8) The hotel is located in a converted monastery, and the cloister is by itself a work of art, built in 1466. The capitals of the columns wear the fish symbol of the local noble family Cavassa. There is a reflectory with interesting frescoes in the Ferrarese/ Cosmè Tura style by the minor artist Aimo Volpi, 16th century. The church of San Giovanni has a great 15th century frescoes and an extraordinary apse in Burgundian Gothic style, in green Sampeyere stone. These are just a few marvels of Saluzzo, a jewel of Piedmont.
Not so good:
1) The problem started when using the bathtub – the water was not hot enough. It was barely warm for a shower, but once the bathtub is filled, it felt as a tepidarium. The day was not very warm, and I was very disappointed that although a great huge Jacuzzi bathtub was there, it was not really usable due to the lack of hot enough water.
2) There was some timer system in Jacuzzi, suddenly it went on and kept screaming for 10 minutes. I called the attendant but by the time he came, the siren stopped. It was extremely unpleasant to deal with all that, provided there were no instructions on what to expect from such a fastidious Jacuzzi system.
3) The heating system was hot air blow, controlled by some sophisticated device that did not work easily – I could not turn it on, but the attendant managed to do it. I wish the controls would be easier to operate.
4) All these difficulties were quite startling. I manage to travel alone through many European countries in a rental car with no problem, but the secret controls of this hotel’s room made the better of me.
5) The breakfast was not very rich; I expected more variety in Piedmont. I asked for eggs which seemed to cause disapproval from the hostess, yet she brought two soft boiled eggs, albeit without a hint of a smile.
6) The personnel were not overly friendly; I had to specifically ask for help with the bags. While the real estate of this hotel would qualify for solid four stars, the service is barely two. But yet again, the view from the room was above compare.
Overall, it is a beautiful hotel in a splendid location with nonchalant service. I stayed only one night and could stay more. I would recommend it still because of its strong "pro" points. Hopefully the service will improve.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A convent of the XV century restored on this elegant italian charming hotel of 4 stars. The really quite 13 rooms ( 2 singles + 9 doubles + 2 junior suites) to live in the history of the Marquis. The amazing restaurant to tast the local food and wine of Piedmont. The wonderful conference room with a fresco of 1400 to make magical your event. The scenographic and evocative Cloister ideal for meditation. The unique and incomparable hotel in the mediaval side of Saluzzo. ... more less
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