Apparently the prince prefers the coast. Though the hotel is called the Grand Hotel Principe di Piemonte, it stands on the central promenade in the picturesque little town of Viareggio, on the coast of northern Tuscany. One glance at the building and you know what the place is about, its ornate 1920s façade rising in all its splendor above Viareggio’s long sandy beach and the Tyrrhenian Sea just beyond. In short, it’s a classic European resort-hotel in a classic European resort-town — admittedly not the edgiest hospitality formula, but one with enduring appeal to be sure.
The rooms come in a surprisingly broad variety of styles; the result, however, feels coherent, unified by deft execution and a dedication to rich materials. And in the end, what really sets one room apart from another is the quality of the views, with the best ones featuring balconies that overlook the sea.
The beach is an enticingly short walk from the front door, but good luck pulling yourself away from the hotel’s own pool. Set on a terrace overlooking the sea, with bougainvillea crawling up the marble fountains at its edge, it’s the sort of pool that begs for long, leisurely days in the sun, preferably with a series of icy cocktails and light snacks delivered to your parasol-shaded daybed. The water is warm and, in one section, even capable of giving you a massage, though really the pool is not so much for splashing around in as it is an excuse to lie around doing lots of happy nothing.
It’s all rounded out by a fine spa, and a pair of highly regarded restaurants serving excellent regional Italian food along with still more sea-views. One’s a little more formal than the other, and you’ll have to decide whether to sit indoors or out, but in the end it hardly matters; it’s all gravy.