I went to Genoa primarily to do an art history course with Hotel Alphabet. I’d done some day courses in London with its owner, Dr Marie-Anne Mancio, and thought she was such a great lecturer it would be fantastic to combine one of the courses she runs with a short city break. She teaches all over the world, from London, New York, St Petersburg, Amsterdam, Spain, France and several places in Italy where she lives with husband Paul, who runs the company with her.
Genoa was on offer at the time I wanted to go away and it had been on my mind as a good destination for some time as it has such a long and important food history (click here for more). The 3-day course also offered a trip to Portofino on the Cinque Terre and I’d heard so much about it, seen photos of how beautiful it is, that I really wanted to go there too. Another thing that was a plus for me was I would remain an independent traveller. I really am a happy independent traveller and the fact that I would have to book my own flights and hotel was great; I would be free to choose my own place and fix my own dates, so could easily add on a day or two to do some food exploration as well as look at art.
As I so often do, I booked the whole trip with British Airways. Their recommended hotels are usually reliable and invariably I make a good saving by booking flight + hotel with them. I wanted somewhere central (and luckily this turned out to be only a lazy 15-minute walk away from where Marie-Anne was staying; our morning meeting place). I was reasonably budget minded so went for a 3* Best Western. I’ve stayed in Best Western hotels a couple of times before. Some are more basic 3* and some more upmarket 4* (such as the one I stayed in years ago with my daughter in Naples, with a fantastic view across the Bay of Naples to Vesuvius).
Hotel Metropoli fitted the bill on many counts – location and price being main ones. In fact its location is much more brilliant than I’d realised; it would be hard to better it. It’s just 5 minutes – at the most – walk from Piazza de Ferrari, a central hub of Genoa from which all important roads and piazzas seem to run.
Set in the historic centre, you can get to most areas of interest and sights, and down to the Old Port (Porto Antico) in a matter of minutes. It’s also one of the nicest areas of Genoa.
The staff had been wonderfully friendly even before my arrival. I’d exchanged emails with Irene and Cinzia about the best way to get from the airport; adding on breakfast to my booking, which hadn’t been included. I don’t always mind but with three days when I had to get out early to the course, it seemed a good idea to have breakfast at the hotel. How much did they charge? I asked. Sometimes adding on breakfast can be outrageously expensive – but no, they would charge me just €5 a day.
I took a taxi from the airport (about €20-25). The hotel had told me of a bus which would drop me off at Piazza de Ferrari for €7 but it was a city I hadn’t been to before and I’d been up since 4.30am; I wanted to make things easy. As it happened, it would have been an easy walk from the piazza but it was nice to get a taxi!
It was such a warm welcome it was almost like returning to an old favourite hotel, not a new one. It was too early to get into my room – it was only about 11am – so they took my bag, gave me a map of the city, and said if I returned at 1pm my room would be ready.
My room was on the 4th floor. I was pleased as it was in a busy area and I thought that would be quieter. It was, but actually at night, even in the centre of the city in a busy small piazza, it was wonderfully quiet and peaceful. It was a very simple room; even rather plain. But I was happy with it and it turned out to have a very comfortable bed – and excellent pillows! I have a thing about good pillows as I have a Tempur one at home so am used to good support. And it had a nice parquet floor.
I could open the windows too and I liked to do that to look out on to the Piazza Fontane Marose. It was a pretty view, albeit it a city one. I also left the windows open a bit at night for air, which wasn’t a problem as it was so quiet by late evening.
The bathroom – well, shower room as there was no bath – was again simple but nice. And it had a proper hair dryer; not one of those awful tube ones that are hopeless at drying hair.
A mini bar contained a few drinks and snacks; reasonably priced. There was also a kettle and I do love having a kettle in my hotel room. I’d known this so had taken a selection of teas I like to have for early morning while still in bed, and at night before going to sleep. It also meant if I went back to the hotel during the day for a while, I could make myself a hot drink.
The wifi was – as is normal now in hotels – free but it was a particularly good one. I say this with my blogger’s hat on. Believe me, one of the reasons I don’t always write regularly on the blog while I’m away is that the process is too stressful. I need internet connection to load photos but in some hotels, the wifi just can’t cope. In Florence (lovely as the hotel was) I had to take my iPad down to the Apple Store a few minutes walk away and load things there! Other times, it all works but is painfully slow. But at Hotel Metropoli it was as good as being at home!
Breakfast! Hotel Metropoli are – quite rightly – very proud of their buffet breakfast. To be honest, at €5 I hadn’t expected anything great but actually it was one of the best hotel breakfasts I’ve had.
Here’s the table laden with fresh, wonderful food.
There was a fresh fruit salad every morning, bowls of fruit and a choice of fruit juice. There were cereals and yoghurts; hams and cheeses; you could boil and egg and make warm food but I never want to do that.
There was a choice of breads, including focaccia Ligure, and Pandolce Genovese – a lovely moist and rich fruit cake; a speciality of the city. There were cakes and flans.
I’m quite modest with breakfast and really only want cereal, yoghurt and fruit first thing and to then have a coffee break a bit later. But I did have a coffee and they’d often put a chocolate heart on my cappuccino, which was such a sweet touch. And I couldn’t resist a slice of the gorgeous Pandolce.
Always, whoever was on Reception, whether I was coming down in the morning, going out for the day, returning, I was always greeted with a warm smile and a little conversation. It was truly one of the friendliest hotels I’ve ever stayed in. On my last day one of the regular receptionists said, Oh no! You’re not going already. We want you to stay. Maybe she said the same to others but it felt such a nice warm offering and such warmth really does make a difference, especially when holidaying on your own.
My flight home was late – 20:00hrs – so I had pretty much a full day to see more of Genoa. I had to check out by 12 and came back from a morning’s exploration and coffee and shopping to do that. But in the afternoon I also came back a couple of times. As I said, it’s so central I was never far away. And the warmth was there and I was welcome to make myself comfortable in the sitting area; I could charge up my phone.
It had been a good stay. And anytime I go back to Genoa, I’m definitely staying at Hotel Metropoli again.