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Find and book hotels in Genoa. With location maps and guest reviews.

Public area, Locanda di Palazzo Cicala, Genoa

Locanda di Palazzo Cicala, Genoa

My bedroom at the Locanda di Palazzo Cicala, Genoa

The Locanda di Palazzo Cicala is a small design hotel in the historic centre of Genoa (Genova), in north-west Italy. Technically this is more like a B&B, since it doesn't have much public space or full hotel facilities, but it is a stylish accommodation option which makes a good base for a hip weekend in this fascinating port city. I stayed in the hotel for three nights in November 2009 and found it - with one or two quibbles - a good place to stay. I booked a double room (single use) for 119 per night using the online booking link below.

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Location and directions

The hotel's location is excellent for sightseeing: opposite Genoa's attractive cathedral, San Lorenzo, in the more respectable part of the old town. If arriving by public transport, you'll need to take two buses from the airport (change from the airport Volabus to the number 35 at Stazione Principe, and alight at Piazza De Ferraris) but once you're here you can explore the whole town centre on foot; most of the main tourist sights are within 15 minutes' walk. It is also a convenient location for visiting restaurants and bars.

The hotel is just off Piazza San Lorenzo. From Via San Lorenzo, head along the arcade opposite the cathedral; the hotel is at the start of the narrow lane which continues onwards, with its doorway on the left. It is on the first floor; choose between the lift and an imposing flight of stairs.

Public areas and breakfast

The hotel's reception desk is a small hole in the wall just past an attractive lounge area, which has views of the cathedral. This lounge is a nice place to sit, with groovy low red chairs and artworks on the wall. It is also where you take breakfast (unless you opt to consume it in your room), at which point the limited, and low, seating could be a problem.

Breakfast itself was a reasonable Italian-style buffet with nice, fresh, filled croissants, cereal, fresh fruit, yoghurts, rolls, jams and cheese. On my second morning I complained about the unavailability of English tea (green, fennel or orange fruit tea just didn't hit the mark) and the staff went to the trouble of obtaining breakfast tea for the following morning.

There is an inviting restaurant a few doors away, called Cantine Squarciafico, and a popular bar with cheaper meals right next door. I walked a few streets to a couple of good restaurants, and to Piazza delle Erbe, a nightlife area with bars and a large cheap pizzeria. The larger streets near the hotel all seemed safe after dark; if you're going further or down the narrow lanes of the centro storico, it would probably be a good idea to stick to routes you already know, or ask advice from the receptionists. In the vicinity of the hotel I didn't see any evidence of Genoa's sleazier side, although a homeless man had taken up residence in the main piazza.

Bedroom and facilities

My bedroom at the Locanda di Palazzo Cicala, Genoa

My room was very spacious and simply decorated. It retained the feel and many features of a large historic palazzo interior. The door frames were marble, the ceiling was decorated by stucco under generations of paint, the window shutters were vast and attractive. Everything was painted white; this, and the two large windows, made the room a very light and pleasant space.

The bathroom was like a kind of pod built into a corner of the room, separated by a wall but not totally enclosed. This bathroom area must please some visitors and upset others: in typical 'design hotel' fashion, it had a clear glass wall between the bedroom and the shower, and a glass door aligned with the window, offering no privacy from your room-mate nor - unless you closed the shutter - from residents over the street. The gap around the top of the bathroom wall would also mean sharing other aspects of one's daily ablutions.

Good points: the bedroom was stylish and very large. The white walls, variety of lighting, wooden floors and original features were all attractive. Furniture was minimal but decent, with a comfortable wide bed. There were little bedside tables fully occupied by lamps (with bases which got very hot, so take care); a large desk; mini-bar (no prices); two wooden chairs; one armchair; a flat-screen tv with international channels; a suitcase stand. In November the radiator worked and the room temperature was comfortable. The room comes complete with a computer with free internet access: a marvellous feature, especially if - like me - you are subject to Ryanair luggage restrictions and don't want to bring a laptop.

Bad points: the lack of privacy options for the bathroom. Personally I'd prefer the bathroom 'pod' to be enclosed and I think the door and glass shower-window should have had blinds or curtains. The large windows onto the street were overlooked by the opposite building and thin curtains would have been another good addition for guests keen on their privacy. A more practical problem was that though the bathroom fixtures were fairly good, the shower head didn't fit its socket properly; a problem which should definitely have been fixed. Although the decorating was ambitious and generally effective, the 'finishing' was not always to a terribly high standard: wires trailed over the floor and dirty marks on the wall hadn't been erased. The economy with which the 'design' effect had been achieved was sometimes too visible. Instead of a wardrobe I had a rail and storage units suspended in an alcove; which felt a bit cheap. There was another cheap plastic shelving unit in the bathroom and I was very disappointed with the toiletries - hoping for slippers, I discovered just two sachets of shower gel (the kind that smells like car air freshener) and a cake of soap. Not even a shower cap. For the price I paid, this was all rather meagre.

Although I slept well, I think the peacefulness and privacy of the room could depend on luck. The reception desk was a few feet away so a phone ringing or - on my first night - a noisy man talking were a disturbance when the connecting door was left open. The narrow lanes outside could also be noisy at times. I did, however, rather like having 8am church bells as a wake-up call.

My view

Locanda di Palazzo Cicala, Genoa

The Locanda di Palazzo Cicala is a hotel with admirable aspirations and a good sense of style. I do suspect, though, that the design-led clientele they aim for may have quibbles with some of the general standards. If you demand luxury and everything to be 'just so', then you would probably find fault with the hotel. If you know what to expect and you like the 'look,' however, you would probably be very satisfied. This is the kind of place where it's all about perceptions. As an affordable central base with style credentials and the bonus of a computer to use, it rates highly, but as a luxury design place to stay, it would still, for now, fall slightly short.

The staff were friendly and very helpful. Receptionists spoke English, offered advice when asked, and booked restaurants. I really appreciated the location, the friendly staff and atmosphere, the stylishness and the computer. I think potential guests should consider this review and other guests' online comments to decide if this is a place they will love, tolerate or hate. If the bathroom privacy is an issue, I'd suggest you add a comment to the booking form or explain to staff on arrival, as they may have other options.

As well as spacious bedrooms, the Locanda also has several apartments to let, which could be very convenient for travelling families or groups.

> More information / make a booking

Locanda di Palazzo Cicala hotel review by Italy Heaven editor, staying incognito.

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