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Hotel Excelsior, La Maddalena - hotel review

About Hotel Excelsior

Hotel Excelsior is a smart modern four-star hotel by the ferry port on the island of La Maddalena, Sardinia. I stayed at the hotel with my mother for three nights in September 2011.

Booking, arrival and public spaces

Hotel Excelsior is right by the port in La Maddalena and it is easy to find. The hotel had emailed us to notify us of a discount for their guests with one of the ferry companies, giving us a positive impression before we'd actually arrived.

Arrival was smooth and efficient; we were escorted to our room by a receptionist. The receptionists during our stay varied in smiley friendliness but all were polite and greeted us every time we went in or out. They were helpful when I asked for tourist information and advice, and kept our luggage safe for us after checkout on our day of departure. We appreciated the tempting bowl of chocolates kept on the desk.

I booked online, months in advance, reserving a double room with a sea view for at €129 per night. On arrival, I was disappointed to find our room didn't have a balcony (rather curiously, for a modern purpose-built hotel), but as I had booked so far in advance I could no longer be sure of the precise room description at the time of booking.

The hotel was modern and at the more luxurious end of the four-star category. Its decor and style were very international and safe. Public spaces included a large, elegant breakfast room/bar and also a terrace facing the sea with tables and chairs. A short ride up in the lift took me to a rather secret roof terrace furnished with sun loungers, which had super views over the town, sea and neighbouring island. Perhaps, on an island with fine beaches a short drive away, no-one was much interested in a solarium, but I found it a great place to pass an hour.

Our bedroom

Our 'superior' double bedroom, on the third floor, was prepared for us as requested, with twin beds. The room was a bit was boxy and modern, and could have been any city hotel - there was no island atmosphere until we looked out of the window. But it was very comfortable and well-designed. From our window we looked over the busy waterfront street, car parking and ferry queuing area and then to ferries constantly coming and going. The double glazing was excellent, so all of this life was interesting to watch without disturbing us. There was always some new sight to see, and the more distant views of the island of Santo Stefano over the water and the mainland beyond - with a bear-shaped rock on hillside - were very scenic.

Our room was a decent size, though without much sitting space other than the beds. Our twin beds were about a foot apart, and this configuration had evidently altered the layout of room. One bed had a bedside table alongside, but the second bedside table had been moved against a wall while the second bed had a soft square ottoman next to it. There was a small desk underneath the flat screen TV in a corner, and useful provision of power sockets alongside and by the beds. Within the cupboard was a minibar, a safe and also a lockable drawer for laptops and larger items. The TV had foreign channels such as BBC News. I'm always happy to find a room with coat hooks, and this one had three hooks. There were two wardrobes - one each - with mirrored front (a good number of mirrors here) - the trouble was that the rail was so high even I found it a bit awkward to reach up to; it was a struggle for my shorter parent. A suitcase stand was fitted into the wardrobe unit. The room had good controllable air-conditioning.

Our bathroom was large, with slippers, a box of tissues and a good selection of toiletries, mostly replenished daily. The shower had a big waterfall type head, with a small handheld alternative. There was hotel information supplied in the room, a pen and a notepad. Given the hotel's evident ambitions and high standards, I was slightly surprised that there wasn't a turndown service. However, our room was tidied and cleaned well every day.

Breakfast

Breakfast, presented in a large breakfast room-cum-bar, was fine, with a fairly good buffet. Hot drinks were served by a waitress. A large-screen TV playing MTV was distractingly loud, but the waitress did turn the volume lower upon request. Breakfast included cake, croissants, apple strudels, Sardinian biscuits, eggs and bacon, cheese, ham, yoghurts, fresh fruit and watery fruit drinks.

Hotel Excelsior location

The hotel couldn't be in a more convenient position. It is right opposite the jetty used by ferries to and from Palau in mainland Sardinia; you can see it from the deck as your ship pulls in. Just over a busy road from constantly manoeuvring ferries and queueing vehicles, this might not seem the atmospheric of locations. However, our room had excellent double glazing and we really didn't hear any noise. For strolling through the town, visiting restaurants, catching buses or taking a boat trip, the hotel was ideally placed and is by far the most convenient on the island.

There is an excellent hole-in-the-wall gelateria just a few doors away from the hotel, and also a convenient little supermarket, useful if you want to stock up on affordable Sardinian wine or picnic ingredients.

Recommendation

I was very pleased I'd chosen the Excelsior. The hotel's rather bland modernity disappointed me slightly at first glance, but the high international standards were generous compensation for any shortage of character. Our room was extremely comfortable, well-appointed and soundproofed, and we appreciated the views of the ferries coming and going, and the island beyond. The location was really convenient for arriving and departing with luggage and for using public transport. We enjoyed our stay at the hotel and on the island, and were sorry to leave.

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