About the hotel
The Villa Antica Tropea is a small-ish hotel in the seaside town of Tropea, one of the most attractive resorts in the southern Italian region of Calabria. We visited the hotel for four nights in June 2009, making reservations online in advance. We booked a single room for 50 per night (I was actually given a double), and a double which cost 86.
During the course of my stay I had mixed feelings. After a hot train journey perhaps we weren’t in the best of moods when we arrived and we didn’t start off brilliantly. But by the end of our stay we were very pleased we’d chosen the hotel, felt the location was ideal and had the hotel management to thank for one of the most interesting days of our holiday. We also appreciated the relatively cheap prices.
The hotel is situated very conveniently on the street which links the centre of Tropea with the railway station. If you are arriving from the station, walk along the station access road to your left. Where this joins a larger road, turn downhill to the left and follow the road under the railway and down the slope into town. The hotel is down this road, on the right-hand side after the car park. It’s around a ten-minute walk. The hotel is pretty central, with banks and souvenir shops close at hand as well as a good cheap pizza takeaway (across the road and down some steps). The old heart of town, with its pretty lanes and restaurants and staircases descending to the sea, is just five minutes further down the road. We didn’t see any other hotels in this part of Tropea – most are located further from the centre along a main road – so this is one of the most convenient places you could stay, especially if you are arriving by public transport.
When we arrived in the afternoon we were greeted very cordially but found that our rooms were not ready. The cleaners finished up quickly, leaving the floors wet, and we were shown into our two double rooms. These were situated in a garden block surrounded by leafty terraces. The rooms were both pleasant, nice and well-equipped, with rather kitsch but sweet frescoes, flat-screen TVs and DVD players. However, we were rather deterred by the limited amount of natural light. In addition my room lacked a desk or table where I could work. So we returned to reception and asked if they had any spare rooms with more light and perhaps a desk. The receptionist was very charming and showed us a couple of rooms in the main villa building which were much airier, light-filled places to sit, and which we accepted.
My front room was in keeping with the building, more like the guest room of an old house than a modern hotel room. The hotel evidently has quite a variety of rooms; this one lacked the modern adjuncts of the previous garden room (old-fashioned tv set, no DVD player) but was a good high-ceilinged space with a rather small shower that nevertheless had the option of sitting down with jacuzzi jets. I had a small table to sit at, by the window looking onto the hotel’s front terrace. This, and the fact my door opened straight onto the hotel lobby, meant that the room didn’t feel terribly private and was rather noisy in the early morning when rubbish trucks disturbed the peace. However, having chosen the room myself over a more secluded option, I don’t feel it would be fair to complain. Our other replacement double room was at the rear of the building with some pretty bougainvillea growing outside the window. Again it was simply decorated but fairly comfortable. My room featured local art, the other bedroom was the the only hotel room I’ve seen with its own ‘Greek’ columns among the furnishings.
Breakfast is an eccentric affair where, instead of a buffet, guests are presented with trays of different foodstuffs. When this works well, guests are spoiled with the vast choice of typical and atypical breakfast foods, including hot ham and cheese bites, green beans, lovely pastries from the family pasticceria and excellent chocolate croissants. When the system doesn’t work so well, you end up impatiently waiting to get on with your breakfast while noticing other guests being offered better selections of food.
The meal was served on a pleasant covered rooftop terrace. Although it was good to eat in the open air, twice the setting was spoiled for me by other guests smoking at tables. This may or may not technically have been legal – we were not indoors, but on the other hand had no option but to sit and eat in the wafting smoke. Although staff were concerned and apologetic, they obviously didn’t wish to impinge on the smokers’ pleasure.
Staff, services and facilities
The staff were all friendly and helpful, greeting us with a smile whether on or off duty. The breakfast waitress remembered us and what hot drinks we wanted each morning.
The hotel building is a charming old villa, which the hotel management has endeavoured to decorate and furnish in keeping with its period style. As well as the breakfast roof terrace, the hotel had a little ‘garden’ – mostly terracing dotted with trees and tables – where guests could sit. There was efficient wireless internet available free, and also stocks of tourist information. On mentioning that we were interested in visiting Scilla, Giancarlo, the owner, enthusiastically produced an informative English-language booklet about the town.
Best of all, though, was our day out that we arranged with the hotel. On enquiring about the possibilities for hiring a taxi to see more of the area, we were volunteered the services of Giancarlo as a driver at a very reasonable rate. We toured a few sights in which we were interested, and accepted the offer of a lunchtime visit to the ‘family’ restaurant in an inland village. This made a great day out for us, enabled us to see more of the area than was possible by public transport, and provided us with an interesting guide and plenty of anecdotes (I interpreted).
The Villa Antica Tropea is in a very practical location for visiting Tropea, especially for rail travellers. The friendly personal service was welcoming, and helpful, and we very much appreciated the hotel’s tourist advice and our day out. I wouldn’t say the rooms were the most comfortable I’ve seen – more space to sit or work would have been nice – but they were perfectly decent and clean. Considering the prices we paid, I think the hotel was good value for money and a good choice for our stay in Tropea.
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