Only a few hotels in the world are known as true celebrity favorites. Among them, Antibes’ Hotel du Cap Eden-Roc and Hollywood’s Chateau Marmont have themselves gained celebrity status, and have even starred in feature films. A lesser-known member of that club is the Hotel Splendido, a luxurious villa in Portofino, Italy and an Orient Express hotel. 

What began as a pirate-beleaguered monastery in the sixteenth century is now a favorite vacation spot for the rich and the famous, having hosted generations of celebrities from Lauren Bacall and Humphrey Bogart to George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey. 

During my recent Mediterranean cruise with Azamara last month, I stopped in at the Hotel Splendido for a delicious authentic Italian lunch on the terrace (the pesto was the best I’ve ever tasted!) followed by a tour of the property. It was easy to tell why it’s so well-loved: its breathtaking seaside location, the understated elegance of the decor, and the sense of quiet and privacy all add up to make a fantastic home base, while the surrounding area provides plenty of day trips and sightseeing opportunities. I recommend the fishing excursion for a taste of the region’s history and cuisine or a relaxing spa treatment in the hotel’s luxurious Wellness Centre.