Where you stay on holiday has more or less importance depending on your plans. If your plan is to lay around all day sunbathing and totally chilling out, then staying somewhere a little more luxurious with lots of facilities will be what you want. If you’re planning to more or less just sleep in a city hotel and be out and about sightseeing all day, then really all you need is a comfortable bed. I was only in Bologna for three days and planned a lot of sightseeing having never been to this gastronomic mecca before but I also wanted a rest. So when I saw in my search of hotels that Hotel Porta San Mamolo had a pretty courtyard garden this seemed ideal: it was very central for exploring the city and also had a place to rest tired feet in the afternoon.
Right from the beginning with our exchange of emails they were so kind and helpful and I got a good feeling I’d like it there. I was given a price for a single room (€85 B&B per night) and a double room for single occupancy (€105). I opted for the latter. Single rooms often aren’t that great: I’ve been stuck at the back of hotels without a view and I don’t like sleeping in single beds. As it turned out, I had a gorgeous room with a nice big king-sized bed and a window with a view into the garden (you can just see the window in the photo above, just above a garden seat to centre-left). A number of the rooms seem to open onto the garden and as you need to walk through the garden to either go to breakfast or out of the hotel, there’s a stand of umbrellas by each door so you need never get wet. They’re also happy to lend you an umbrella to go into town if it’s raining.
When I emailed to ask about getting a taxi from the airport they also said they’d be happy to give me tips on where to find good Bolognese food when I arrived. Then began an exchange of emails with Monica and Elisa. I wanted to book a restaurant for the first night as I was arriving in the evening. I was sent a list of about eight places with little notes about them and the suggestion I look at the websites and if I wanted them to book anywhere for me, they would. Once in Bologna I found both Monica and Elisa very friendly in person too and they’d talk to me about the city, Bologna and food, which was great. One of the reasons I prefer to stay in small hotels like this when travelling alone is that they are just so much friendlier. Here at Hotel Porta San Mamolo, as at my favourite hotel in Venice, Hotel Al Ponte Mocenigo, there are people who will have conversations with you, give advice, ask what you plan for the day and then ask how it went when you return. They also have a friendly – and obviously much pampered – cat, Matisse; how can you resist a hotel with a friendly cat?
Breakfast was included in the price and served between 7.00 and 10.00 a.m. in a conservatory.
I’d be greeted as I went in and asked if I wanted coffee and a freshly made cappuccino would soon be sitting before me.
The buffet offered a good choice: fruit juices, eggs, fresh fruit, yoghurts, breads, croissants, cheese and hams. There were delicious cakes including a particularly wonderful orange one with chocolate pieces inside.
On warmer summer days breakfast is served outside on a decked garden.
Although on the edge of the centro storico – the historic centre – Bologna is quite small so I could easily walk to the major piazza in the very centre, Piazza Maggiore, in 10-15 minutes. Crossing right across town to the railway station is only about half an hour.
On the day I was leaving heavy rain started falling at lunchtime. It was so heavy I just returned to the hotel. I’d checked out earlier but my bags were there of course, waiting until it was time for me to get a taxi to the airport. It was too early to leave when I got back so I just made myself comfortable in one of their nice sofas in reception and read a book.
Hotel Porta San Mamolo is a lovely hotel. Just the kind of hotel I like best: small, intimate and friendly. I’d love to return to Bologna sometime and I will most definitely return to the same hotel. If you’re planning a trip to Bologna, take a look at their website: www.hotel-portasanmamolo.it