The Helvetia’s claim that it has ‘the quietest and most enchanting position of Sestri Levante’ is no exaggeration: it stands at one end of the appropriately named Baia del Silenzio. The hotel is distinguished by its spotless white façade, and the yellow and white canopies that shade its balconies and terrace.
Lorenzo Pernigotti devotes himself wholeheartedly to his guests and provides the sort of extras – including 5 gleaming yellow bikes – that you might expect to find in a four-star hotel (which it is); but the Helvetia remains small and personal; one satisfied guest says he ‘felt just like part of the famiily’. (the hotel was opened by Signor Pernigotti’s parents in what was their own seaside villa.) Another was delighted by the sophisticated key system which controls the lights and music in the bedrooms.
The sitting room/bar has the air of a private home – antiques, coffee-table books, newspapers, potted plants – and the breakfast room is lovely, with views of the bay. Bedrooms are light and airy, overlooking either the bay or the gardens.
The day starts on the terrace, with an unusually liberal help-yourself breakfast. Luxuriant gardens climb up the hillside, with tables in the shade. Serious sun-bathers can take to sunbeds. And there’s a tiny pebble beach just across the road.