The Italian Riviera west of Genoa is for the most part disappointing: most of its resorts are dreary, and most of its hotels mediocre. Happily, both the Punta Est and Finale Ligure are exceptions. The hotel is converted from a splendid 18thC villa which stands high and proudly pink above the buzz of the main coastal road, overlooking the sea. Signor Podestà, who used to be a sculptor, has acted as resident architect since the hotel was first created in the late 1960s, and with great success. By preserving the original features of the house and adding to it in a sympathetic style, he has managed to preserve the atmosphere of a private villa. The interior is cool and elegant - all dark-wood antiques, fine stone arches, fireplaces and tiled floors. But with such an impressive setting, the focus is on the outdoor terraces, pool and gardens, with their lovely views.
  Breakfast is taken (off Staffordshire china) on the terrace - in a lovely sunny spot with panoramic views. Other meals are served in a dining room in the annexe, where stone arches and beams create a vaguely medieval setting. You can choose between Italian and Ligurian dishes, including bass cooked with strong aromatic local herbs. The beach is only a couple of minutes' walk down the hillside. A billiard and massage room have been recently installed in the canopied greenhouse.