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Hotel Continental 3.5

Santa Margherita Ligure, Italian Riviera, Liguria

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Rooms offer furnished patios, terraces, or balconies with wonderful views
  • Santa Margherita town center is a short walk away
  • Lovely private beach offers access to the water and plenty of loungers
  • All rooms have flat-screen TVs, air-conditioning, and minibars
  • An abundant breakfast spread is included in the room rate 
  • Main restaurant serves excellent Ligurian food and fresh seafood
  • Excellent base for exploring the Riviera and Cinque Terre 
  • Wellness center offers a great range of spa treatments plus a bright fitness room
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel 

Cons

  • Interior design is a bit bland and dated throughout 
  • Single Rooms are extremely tiny
  • No pool (though there's a natural swimming area)
  • Beach is actually a paved dock 

Bottom Line

Offering gorgeous grounds and beautiful views over the bay toward Santa Margherita's center, the upper-middle-range Hotel Continental is ideally positioned for guests wanting access to restaurants in town (a five-minute walk), a secluded retreat, and a base for exploring the Riviera region and Cinque Terre. Although the interior design is disappointingly bland and bordering on dated in some areas, the property's many patios, terraces, and balconies will delight those who prefer spending time outside their room. The restaurant serving free breakfast, private beach, and spa are great for couples looking for a romantic stay, though the hotel is also kid-friendly. Those wanting to stay directly in the center could check out the boutique Santa Margherita Palace, a four-pearl property that's more stylish but doesn't offer sea views. 

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Scene

Gorgeous grounds and an Art Nouveau facade, but a bland interior design scheme

Built in the early 20th century, the Hotel Continental embraces its Art Nouveau charm with a beautifully maintained exterior straight out of a postcard. Surrounded by gardens and small, well-kept lawns, the hotel's sea views from the top of a small hill are exactly what one might expect from a Riviera holiday. Terraces for drinking, dining, and relaxing abound. The interior, however, is somewhat disappointing: The lobby is done in beige tile and walls for an overall bland impression, though a couple antique china cabinets and gilded artwork provide some charming touches. Guests here are primarily couples, plus a decent amount of families. 

Location

Seafront location, a short walk from town

The Hotel Continental's location is among the most spectacular in town: Although it's a bit outside of the center, it's just a five-minute walk to town, and there are abundant lovely views of the old town, harbor area, and sea. Staying in Santa Margherita Ligure makes for an excellent base to explore the Riviera area, as the towns of Portofino (14 minutes), Sestri Levante (35 minutes), Genova (about 45 minutes), and Cinque Terre (about an hour) are within suitable driving distance. It's also close to golfing, a nature park, and the Monte di Portofino, which offers excellent hiking trails -- once used by pilgrims -- connecting small villages. 

For getting into the hotel, the property is a six-minute walk from Santa Margherita's train station, about an hour and a half from Pisa's airport, and a two hour and 30 minute drive from Milan's Malpensa airport. 

Rooms

Rooms, though they can be fairly basic, offer patios and balconies with gorgeous views 

Rooms on the hotel's website are advertised as "charming, stylish, and comfortable," which is a bit of a stretch (although they are comfortable). The Single Rooms are extremely tiny, measuring 10 square meters (107 square feet), and Standard Rooms aren't much bigger at 14 square meters (150 square feet). However, this is common for European hotels. Neutral-tone rooms are fairly basic with lots of wood paneling and little in the way of decor, but the patio area, furnished with loungers and a table set, is truly lovely for those who care less about style and more about surroundings. Superior Rooms on up have furnished, shaded balconies that exceed expectations for the room type and offer great views of the harbor and sea. 

Standard bathrooms are a bitt small, with showers that are particularly tiny (though they have two showerheads), and minimal counter space. However, higher-category rooms have shower/tub combos and more space. All rooms have small flat-screen TVs, free electronic safes, and minibars, plus free Wi-Fi and basic toiletries. 

Features

Main restaurant and private beach are deservedly the property's main draws.  

The hotel's restaurants are among its highlights: the fish and produce are fresh, and the menu features regional recipes as well as international dishes. The space is elegant but not overly formal -- think tables covered with white linens and a dining terrace over the gulf. Breakfast is included and goes beyond the normal continental spread with its choices. A second restaurant is located by the beach and open from Easter to October. It's a little more casual, with grilled fish and pasta dishes. A third restaurant, the Radiosa, is available for events only but has a gorgeous location in the hotel's gardens. An on-site bar is nice enough for a drink, but not appealing enough to merit it as an evening destination (however, the views from the terrace over the sea are pretty). 

The beach mentioned above is just for hotel guests, and although it's lovely, don't expect sand. Instead, it's a paved stretch extending into the sea with plenty of loungers and access to the crystal-clear water. There's no actual pool, but a beautifully sculpted grotto-like swimming area is roped off. The hotel offers a spa, somewhat oddly named the Wellness and Beauty Farm, that features a sensory shower, a menu of massages, and an ancient-style Caldarium, which alternates heat and steam. There's also a spacious and bright gym with a few pieces of cardio equipment and free weights.

Meeting rooms are also available on-site. Indoor or outdoor parking is available for a nominal charge. Wi-Fi is free throughout the property.

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Address

Via Pagana 8, Santa Margherita Ligure 16038, Italy

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