My two night stay had me dealing with things you normally take for granted in any hotel. The most important was climate control, but I'll get to that detail in a bit.
The rooms were OK and clean, and had a nice touch with foaming soap dispensers making it easy to wash your hands, instead of prying a small sliver of soap stuck to the lavatory. The shower was tiny and many of our group had complaints, but it was fine for me (and I'm 6'1"). There was the bidet (which as an American, I ignored), but the toilet paper dispenser instead of a normal roll was something I'd never seen before. It was filled with sheets, and dispensed two sheets per pull. If this trend catches on, I'll be adding "roll of toilet paper" to my luggage checklist! My wife complained about the bathroom lighting and did her hair and makeup in the other room. The windows opened, if desired, and an external shutter that could be lifted or lowered by a pull cord inside the room. I had to "set up" the flat screen TV with a scan for channels because it initially only had static. Turns out it received about 100 channels, but not one in English (hotels usually carry BBC).
Now for the story on the climate control, which may be of great help to those that choose to stay in this hotel. Like most modern European hotels that use key cards, they only issue one card per room (a real pain in you want to split up and go different directions). The card has a smart chip, so you put it in the slot just inside the door to make lights and power work (again, a real pain if you want to leave while you're charging camera batteries). But evidently in the face of rising heating costs (not to mention Italian law specifies when a hotel can turn on A/C), this hotel goes a step further. The room, which had an outside wall and a view, was very cold. I could not get the thermostat to operate the heater at all. I went down to the desk (where I found the little bit of Italian I knew very helpful because that staff didn't know any English), and they were able to fix it by going to their computer and mousing to the climate controls and enabling my thermostat. A great triumph for technology to control costs and enable compliance............EXCEPT.......the same thing happened the next night. Came in after a day of touring....room was freezing cold.....had to go down to the desk and get the heat turned on.......AGAIN!
Other problems with the hotel is the elevators are located in a traffic area where crowds of people using the stairs are squeezing by those waiting for the super-slow elevators with their luggage. The desk staff is too small, and really got backed up. The restaurant is large, but only had mediocre food on a fixed menu, changed daily (our dessert was a bowl of fruit, which is a cop-out in a country that can produce fantastic deserts).
The hotel has a shuttle that goes to/from town hourly. Hotel is conveniently located across the street from Padre Pio's churches and museum (although it is a 700 meter walk up a very steep incline, so if you use a cane or you're not up to the climb you may want to spring for a short 5 to 7 Euro cab ride to avoid the uphill trek).
In conclusion, I would not stay again, but it was the best location near our tour destination and allowed flexibility and independence in visiting those churches and shrines. I can only hope a better hotel will be built in the lot next door for future travelers.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Gran paradiso hotel is ideal both for those who want to visit the sanctuary of Padre Pio given its proximity , and also for those who wants to spend a relaxing holiday. The structure is equipped with an outdoor swimming pool and inside there is a cozy restaurant for those who want to eat something more tasty. This hotel is highly recommended for families with children. Lastly, pets are allowed. ... more less
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