Santa Margherita and neighbouring Portofino is one of our favourite regions of Italy - it embodies quiet luxury and takes one back to times long gone. It’s also off-the-beaten path for most, typically frequented only by those in-the-know, giving it an air of exclusivity.
When Dolce & Gabbana invited us to Portofino for their AW15 Alta Moda presentation, over a weekend in July, we stayed at the Imperiale Palace Hotel in Santa Margherita. What initially drew us to the hotel were the interiors and the fact that it was right at the seafront.
The rooms have an old-fashioned opulence that actually complements the surrounding region. There’s nothing worse than going to a hotel on the Italian Riviera that feels more like Pensacola than Portofino. And Imperiale Palace has all the details: glass chandeliers, marble bathrooms, stuccoes and fresco paintings and ceilings, plush velvet upholstery, and framed gilded mirrors. But what we loved most about the hotel was having access to a private beach - key during peak season.
Being Italy, the hotel’s history is notable. It was originally built as a private villa in 1889 by the Costa family of Corsica. Famous writers and artists were regular guests of the Imperial Suites on the floor where the nobility once lived. In 1922, the German Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Soviet Commissioner for Foreign Affairs met in the oval room, now “Treaty Room”, to sign the famous Treaty of Rapallo, which marked the end of the First World War. It’s not hard to imagine the hoards of elegant people that have frequented the hotel.
The area is magical and the Imperiale is a good place to enjoy it from, but the only downside to all this heritage is that the atmosphere was a bit staid. Apparently Frank Sinatra stayed at the Imperiale, and it seems much hasn’t changed since. As time goes by, so does the level of effort required to keep the hotel and service sleek.
Imperiale Palace Hotel
Via Pagana 19, 16038 Santa Margherita Ligure
+39 0185 288991