Why reserve? Rejuvenate in a sustainable seaside retreat overlooking a beautiful harbor, with staff who make you feel right at home.
Set the scene Giglio, the esoteric younger sister of the prominent island of Elba, is the second largest island in the Tuscan archipelago. Only 5 percent of the island is inhabited, keeping the majority a mystery intact and playing a key role in the preservation of dolphins, small whales and even migrating birds. Giglio also has a fascinating history, as the first Gigliese lived on the island since Etruscan times. At their most independent, they spent days in the sun cultivating wine by hand. During darker times, they gathered inside a hilltop castle built to protect them from occupation and pirate attacks (where some locals still live today). A one-hour ferry from mainland Italy will take you to Giglio Port. On board you’ll find a range of personalities, from locals to vacationers, as proximity to cities like Rome and Florence makes for an effortless commute or long weekend. La Guardia can be spotted as you approach the island, its modern restoration on the rocks of the harbor contrasts sharply with the typical Tuscan architecture. Unlike other port towns, the port is the preferred place to stay on Giglio Island, and La Guardia is only a three-minute walk once you get off the boat. This stretch of coastline is a community on its own, and the renovated La Guardia fits in well with the mom-and-pop shops, gelaterias, and fried seafood cone stalls that line the cobbled streets all the way to its entrance.
The backstory Flaminia Pérez del Castillo, owner and general manager of Hotel La Guardia, and her husband Flavio Caprabianca have worked in their native Rome for over 20 years as advertisers. After visiting Giglio Island on vacation, they fell in love with the historic vineyards, the proud cultural heritage, and the quiet simplicity of island life. When the opportunity arose to acquire one of the main hotels on the island, originally built in 1956, they said goodbye to advertising and set out to recreate the space (and reinvent in the process). They worked with designers Block722 and architect Rosario Magarinos to restore the hotel, and Caprabianca oversaw the interior design. Sadly, the pandemic arrived shortly after their first season. But when the trip reemerged, the hotel prospered both with customers and locals alike who quickly recognized that it was the perfect location in Giglio Porto (already in early June the rooms and restaurant were at full capacity ).
The rooms The hotel is warm and welcoming. Inside, a contemporary bar brings the otherwise tranquil lounge to life. Take a few steps towards the sea and find yourself surrounded by an open-air structure that creates a dream scene, framing the view of the harbor like a picture. The furniture, although robust in the choice of materials, creates a subtle and serene space. Wood tables, seagrass accents, wicker lamps, and natural plants adorn each of its 29 rooms and suites. In ours, an aerial view of the sea and the bustling cliff face was a lovely way to start and end each day. Rooms start from $ 264 (€ 208) per night.
Food and drink The first floor of La Guardia is dedicated to its restaurant, with a menu as tasty as the view is colorful. Chef Milena Andreetto’s dishes are inspired by Mediterranean flavors, so she naturally respects the Mediterranean concept of using only ingredients grown locally on the island. From traditional Italian arancini with lemon zest and tomato calamarata in a squid sauce to Greek-inspired soutzoukakia, our dinners did not disappoint. The same love of the local holds true for La Guardia’s wine selection, which offers customers over 50 labels to choose from, all sourced exclusively from small Mediterranean islands like Ischia, Procida, Capri, Ibiza and Santorini.
The neighborhood / area A 30 minute walk or a short drive from La Guardia are Le Cannelle and Le Caldane, two of the island’s main beaches with the quintessential Italian umbrellas. Small businesses offering aquatic experiences are readily available near the hotel, from scuba diving and snorkeling trips to boat rentals. Restaurants are plentiful, although the options don’t differ much (prepare yourself plenty of white wine and seafood).
The service What makes La Guardia a must visit is the friendly staff. From reception to bar to turndown service, the team at La Guardia defined hospitality and went out of their way to make sure we had the full experience. They issued invitations to the evening yoga in the hotel’s backyard (which we happily joined), facilitated reservations, and welcomed our dog with open arms as an additional guest.
Eco-responsible efforts La Guardia does not use single-use plastic. For single-use paper, the boutique hotel uses exclusively recycled plastic (and the natural hues of everything from towels to toilet paper are very brand-true, complementing the decor quite well). Additionally, the hotel only purchases local ingredients from local suppliers and has won sustainability awards.
Nothing to report? Furry parents rejoice: La Guardia accepts dogs.
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