The NH Marina overlooks the bay

For tourists looking for a great base from which to explore the Italian riviera, Genoa's NH Marina is a pretty good bet, finds Jane Duru.

It’s a relief to step through the revolving doors into the quiet lobby of the NH Marina in Genoa. The sleek interiors mark a sharp contrast to its salmon pink exterior, and are a world away from the searing heat of the city outside, where traders line the pedestrian walkway hawking ‘designer’ hand bags and various other trinkets.

In fact you’d be forgiven for momentarily forgetting about the hotel, as your attention is immediately drawn by the giant pirate ship moored next to it. The 63m-long (200ft) reproduction Spanish galleon was a prop from Roman Polanski’s 1986 film Pirates and donated to the city by the director himself. It certainly makes a grand impression; anyone with children should pencil in a visit.

There are no such theatrics at NH Marina. The cool, dark wooden interior has an air of understated elegance, with plush leather sofas encircling the concierge desk and together with the lobby’s hushed tones; the hotel feels rather business-like. The only nod towards its family-friendly credentials is the tantalising bowl of sweets on the concierge desk. We’re swiftly ushered towards the lifts and up to our rooms, key cards in hand.

NH Marina standard roomA standard room
NH Marina

After several attempts (throughout my stay, key card entry proves to be particularly troublesome) I’m in, and flopping onto the double bed, I survey my surroundings. My standard room, although a little on the small side, is perfectly satisfactory. Tan wooden floors, contemporary furniture and a blue and cream palette make a pleasing combination, and the large, tiled bathroom is equipped with the requisite toiletries and more towels than anyone would know what to do with.

NH Marina room balconyWatch the world go by from your hotel room balcony
NH Marina

Still, the best feature has to be the balcony overlooking the marina, which is accessed via a sliding door. It’s a great spot for enjoying a mid-afternoon sojourn, and its presence immediately elevates the room from being a good base, to a comfy hideaway perfect for hanging out with fellow travellers.

My one gripe is the lack of beverages - there’s no kettle, no tea or coffee; not even a bottle of water (not counting the contents of the sparsely stocked minibar) and with the tap water in the bathroom nigh on undrinkable, repeated visits to the local newsagents in the nearby Old Town are necessary.

Cathedral of San LorenzoVisit the San Lorenzo cathedral, one of Genoa's most famous landmarks.
Creative Commons / Fabrizio Binello

The location, however, is where NH Marina comes into its own. Aside from the ship, another family friendly attraction, the aquarium, is practically on the hotel’s doorstep, and you’re mere minutes from the heart of Genoa’s Old Town with its bars and restaurants all in close proximity. We wander up into the narrow maze-like streets of the old city taking in the sights – past the colourful trompe l’oeil facades of the old buildings, strolling down the palazzo-lined Via Garibaldi, and taking time to explore the distinctive cathedral of San Lorenzo, unmistakeable with its black and white stripes. For first time visitors to Genoa, the NH Marina makes a great base from which to explore the city.

That is, of course, if you can bring yourself to wake up. An excellent night’s sleep was slightly marred by the fact that the drapes were like blackout curtains, so effective were they at eclipsing any trace of sunlight. For me, a room cast in a sunny glow makes a wonderful wake up call and I found it slightly disorienting to wake in complete darkness; but others might appreciate this effect.

NH Marina breakfast Dine al fresco for breakfast and dinner
NH Marina

Breakfast and dinner can be eaten at Il Gozzo, the hotel’s restaurant, and it’s here where the hotel’s seaside setting really enchants. There are two al fresco seating areas, both overlooking the boats in the marina, and both delightful.  With the refreshing sea breeze and a view across the port, from where you can see the famous lighthouse, it’s a charming spot.

Whilst we don’t manage to squeeze in dinner here (this being the culinary heart of Italy, we were determined to sample gastronomic delights beyond the hotel), breakfast certainly passes muster. It’s a comprehensive buffet, with the usual hot and cold options – fresh fruit, cereal, cooked breakfast and pastries abound, and there is a selection of European papers on hand.

We did attempt to order cocktails one evening, but this happened to clash with a very glamorous wedding reception, so much so that our party was swiftly ushered away from the bar (which was unfortunately positioned in the middle of proceedings) and made to rely on service from the solitary waiter left on duty. The night caps were a long time coming.

The hotel appeals to a wide range of clientele; Italian and international, families and businesspeople alike. The cosmopolitan feel is perhaps explained by the fact that Genoa is a working city, one third of Italy’s economic golden triangle and as such, less obsessed with the tourist dollar than perennial favourites Florence and Venice. Situated in the middle of the beautiful Italian Riviera however, Genoa is a superb location from which to visit the smaller coastal towns of Noli, Camogli and Portofino, as well as the city itself, and the NH Marina makes the perfect springboard for anyone wanting to do just that.

NH Marina
Molo Ponte Calvi, 5. 16124 Genoa, Italy
Tel: +39 010 25391
Standard rooms from €124 per night

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