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    by ibobi Fodor's Editor | Posted on Nov 20, 17 at 01:24 PM
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4 star hotel in Portofino with swimming pool

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Open to staying in other areas of the Italian Riveria. Anywhere close enough to walk to train stations in order to explore nearby towns etc. We are between 60-75 years old and for good reasons refuse to drive.

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    Portofino doesn't have a train station, so you definitely don't want to stay there. Rapallo, Camogli and Santa Margherita Ligure are all good alternatives, and they all have good train and bus connections to other towns. In the summer, you can also utilize boats to visit other towns.

    Something else you should know is that several of the train platforms along the coastal train line have rather steep gaps between the train carriage and the train platform. If you've got good arm strength to help haul yourself up onto the train, and to ease your way down, it's not a problem. (You can always get a fellow passenger to give you a hand with luggage). But you should be aware that many older people find it simpler to use the buses that run regularly between the towns -- which also have the advantages of always being on time and having spectacular views! Just make sure when you get on that you sit down rather than stand.

    Rapallo, which is a completely flat town, offers you the widest selection of hotels with pools, plus restaurants and shopping. It also offers you a marvelous 7-minute cable car ride high up into the hills for a lunch (where you will face some stairs and steepness). It has good bus connections to Camogli, Santa Margherita Ligure and Chiavari (a beautiful Renaissance shopping and eating town). You can check Tripadvisor for hotel reviews, but pay attention to location. The main town bus stop is in front of the train station, and a few of the 4* hotels are more than a 20 minute walk away. Ask here or on the Tripadvisor message board for the Italian Riviera if you are unsure of the location of a hotel you like.

    Camogli is very small and quiet, and has only one 4* hotel with a swimming pool, Cenobbio dei Doge. It is a very picturesque town, but be aware that it is stacked on 3 levels, with staircases connecting the levels. From the hotel Cenobbio dei Doge, it is possible to traverse much of the town avoiding the staircases, and face only fairly mild uphill climbs to reach the train station and buses. It has good train and bus connections to everywhere, and boats to pretty places, including Portofino in the summer. I think it may have the worst train platform issues.

    Santa Margherita Ligure is a popular yacht harbor marina with more than one 4* star hotel with a swimming pool. In size as well as location, it is in between Camogli and Rapallo. It has a direct bus connection to Portofino, and in summer a boat connection as well. It gets quite a bit of the spillover from Portofino when it comes to noticeable numbers of cruise ship tourists. It sits in a kind of steep bowl of mountains, so some of the town is uphill (including the train station) and taking buses to and from Santa Margherita Ligure often involves traveling up and down very winding switchback roads, not everybody's favorite after-lunch activity.

    Again, Tripadvisor,, or all have hotel reviews for the 4* hotels in this area.

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    I've stayed in two good hotels in that area, both with swimming pools. The Miramare in SML has a heated pool, which might be very welcome depending on when you travel. It is large enough for serious swimming. But not so close to the train station, as it is located at the south end of town.

    The Cenobbio dei Dogi in Camogli also has a good pool but the water was too cold to swim when I was there in September a few years ago. Aa Zeppole said in her summary above, it is on many levels and the sea, with chairs and lifeguard, is located down a considerable amount of steps.

    Beware that some well-regarded hotels have swimming pools that are too small for serious swimming. The Metropole in SML, though located closer to the station at the Rapallo end of town and offering a lovely seafront bathing area, is among these.

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    It occurs to me to add that if you use a swimming pool ladder to get out of the deep end of a swimming pool, it requires just a little less arm strength to get on and off at some train stations in that area.

    Since ekscrunchy helpfully brought up the issue of heated pools, if you want one, you should definitely check that out before you book any particular hotel, and also confirm that the pool will be open during the time you are traveling.

    I enjoy swimming in the Mediterranean, but I mainly just paddle around, so I can't advise as to whether people who are real swimmers would find it as good as swimming in a pool. But just so you know, the seawaters around these towns are environmentally protected and generally get rave reviews for cleanliness. If you stay at the Cenobbio dei Doge and want to avoid many stairs to get to the sea, you can also take a 10-minute flat walk to swim in public beaches beyond the hotel. Almost all beaches in the area, however, are rock-pebble beaches that feel much better underfoot with aqua slippers (sold everywhere along the Riviera, cheaply and in all sizes.)

    Also, just to avoid any possible confusion, while the entire town of Camogli is stacked on 3 levels, the Hotel Cenobbio dei Doge can be accessed without any stair climbing and the hotel itself has elevators. From the hotel, it is possible to see 90 percent of the town without climbing stairs -- but if you want to use the hotel's private beach, you can only access that via a series of staircases.


    Did you swim in the sea in Santa Margherita Ligure? I seem to recall it has one small sand beach that is only crowded in July and August, but if so, I don't know which hotels it is is near.

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    Wow thank you for all this very helpful information. I don't actually swim, I just need a spot to cool off in mid September. I'll check out hotels in the areas suggested. I like the idea of buses vs trains too, thank you so much.

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    Z: I loved that pool at the Miramare so I did not swim in the sea in SML. The hotel does have a beach area across the road from the hotel itself. Looked very nice when we visited briefly. We also saw beach areas along the road just south of the hotel, on the route to Paraggi, which has that gorgeous cove. I can't remember if they have sand or not. (I don't care much about the surface of the onshore bathing area).

    It seems to be very rare to find heated swimming pools in Italy. I imagine the Splendido in Portofino has a heated one but I don't know of any other in that area.

    Even on the Amalfi Coast, with dozens upon dozens of luxury hotels, there seem to be only 4 heated pools that I am aware of...

    Hope you are safe and sound!

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    We are safe and sound, thank you. The storms forecast for this weekend are likely to create local problems, but nothing that we haven't seen before (we hope). What we all dread is the thought they will much worsen the already terrible situation for the areas of Liguria and Tuscany that last week got buried in mud. It is an unprecedented crisis for the area.

    Maybe indoor pools are where Italians heat your pools. I'm not sure if they are heated in the grand hotels in Trieste, but some have underwater hi-fi sound systems. You might like Trieste.

    Also, have you ever been in the thermal area of the Eugenean hills outside Padova?

    Sorry, nmonte! I got carried away. Truth is, I find the Mediterranean in the area you've targeted delightful for just cooling off with a dip. The salty water is very bouyant, and along the beach not too deep, and it is just a lot of fun, I think, to float around in the historic Mediterranean.

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