Located between Italy and France, this 5-star hotel is a Relais & Chateaux property and made up of a sprawling property with a pool, gardens and 18-hole golf course. Not only is La Meridiana tranquil, but it comes with top-notch gastronomy.
Three years have passed since my last visit to La Meridiana Resort in the summer of 2014 but it seems just like yesterday when I last set foot on the grounds of my favorite hotel. Nothing much has changed. The atmosphere is still the same as I remember it to be. Luxurious, welcoming, cozy, professional and closely feels like a home away from home. And now there is Posh, a Pembroke Welsh Corgie whom proprietors Alessandra and Edmondo Segre have fondly added to their family recently. She has taken the role of welcoming all the guests with her perennially smiling face while her four short legs make decisive strides towards her family’s new guests. A long sniff here, a friendly look there, perhaps even a smile can escape from her then you are approved before she goes back to her post at the entrance of the hotel. Welcome to La Meridiana Resort Relais & Chateaux!
La Meridiana Resort has always made sure that their four-legged guests are as comfortable as their two-legged guests. They have their own towels, biscuits, blankets, they are encouraged to be set free in the spacious gardens of the hotel and they are more than welcome to dine with their families in the hotel’s restaurants where they are also given their own doggy bowls (but on leashes indoors my furry friends). The rooms proposed for guests with dogs are the ones that have access to the garden. Indeed, what a supercalifragilisticexpialidocious doggy life it is at La Meridiana! La Meridiana was awarded the Animal Friendly Hotel Awards 2011 by the Italian Ministry of Tourism.
You may remember that I’ve already written about La Meridiana four years ago but since Alessandra and Edmondo have redecorated some main rooms, renovated the pool and added more fundamental things that make the stay at their hotel even more elevated in comfort and luxury, I think it’s time to come out again with another article. Besides, I have taken so many photographs of the hotel that I think I have accumulated enough again to share most of the new ones with you.
La Meridiana Resort, a five-star luxury romantic and relaxing hotel, is located in the hinterland of Garlenda, tucked between the Italian Cinque Terre and the French Riviera and just a fifteen-minute drive to the beautiful beaches of Alassio or choose among the succession of beaches along the coast. One of the best things about La Meridiana’s position is its proximity to the number of ancient walled villages of Liguria which is one way of getting to know this part of Italy’s history, culture, art and gastronomy. The closest town is Albenga where you can try the exquisite and not so common purple asparagus that grows in the town’s plains, walk along the ancient roads while trying the farinata (a type of unleavened pancake made of chick pea flour baked with olive oil) and see its medieval towers in the main square. Then there are Laigueglia, Noli, Finale Ligure, and Finalborgo where you can find beautiful beaches as well as their historical towns.
Spending the days in the premises of the hotel is also rewarding. Just a short walk from the hotel is the Garlenda Golf Club which offers an eighteen hole course that is quite a paradise for golf lovers. It is located in the Lerrone Valley, one of the most picturesque spots in the Ligurian hinterland that is surrounded by ancient olive groves and pine woods. From the highest holes, players can admire a wonderful view of the hills sloping down towards the sea. It holds the prestige of being named as one of the ten best golf places in the world by The Sunday Times.
On lazy hot days, nothing can parallel a dip in the swimming pool and enjoying lunch with cold or hot dishes at the poolside. If their chef made some fresh pesto alla Genovese (Ligurian sauce prepared by pounding in a mortar and pestle that’s composed of fresh Ligurian basil, pine nuts, extra virgin olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano and Pecorino.), then it’s the perfect pasta dish to have and pair it with a cold glass of Pigato, a local fresh white wine.
La Meridiana Resort has two restaurants in the premises, the fine dining Il Rosmarino that’s open only for dinner and the less formal Il Bistrot that serves lunch as well as dinner. Both restaurants respect the old tradition of Ligurian cooking using the freshest and best ingredients sourced from the area.
Il Bistrot is the ideal place for a quick lunch in a cozy setting. The dishes are kept simple and full-flavored and special attention is reserved to the typical Ligurian dishes like freshly-baked focaccia, panissa, ravioli with borage and ricotta, trofie with pesto alla Genovese, stuffed pumpkin blossoms, olive patè, and Ligurian minestrone.
Il Rosmarino instead keeps a subdued mood at night time for an elegant and charming dinner served by their attentive dining attendants and Edmondo Segre who makes sure that his guests are proceeding well with their dinners. The dishes prepared by their chef are presented with more elaboration and refinement but still keeping the core elements of Ligurian cooking. Pair your dishes with a bottle of excellent wine from the fully-stocked wine cellar. If you are unsure about which one to choose, Edmondo is the best person to ask because wine is his greatest passion.
In addition, Franco Birocchi, La Meridiana’s bartender for over twenty years, can introduce you to after dinner prestigious distilled spirits at the restaurant or in the spacious lounge conducive to a relaxed ambience. Filled with large and comfortable sofas, a grand piano and a small bar, it is the hotel’s best feature and my favorite area too. The tone changes between daylight and nighttime when the light that enters the room reshapes the atmosphere. Having one side completely done in glass, the view of the garden and pool can easily enthrall anyone and when darkness falls and the lights are turned on, the alluring backdrop becomes a perfect setting for a drink or two.
The hotel has 25 uniquely decorated rooms and suites with elegant characteristics of their own. There are 2 Classic Rooms with twin beds, bathroom & private balcony, 8 Superior Rooms with double or twin beds, bathroom, private balcony and view of the pool, 12 Junior Suites with choices of one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites made up of a living room and bedroom with one double or two twin beds. There are also 2 luxurious Master Suites that are large studio style rooms with a living room, a fireplace, a private balcony, 2 bathrooms, one with a 2-person corner bath and the other with a shower. Their best room is a luxurious 100 square meter Master Apartment with 2 bedrooms, 2 spacious bathrooms one of which has a mini-swimming pool & a balcony overlooking the golf course while the second has a large step-in shower, a spacious sitting room and a bar.
You played golf, you had a dip in the pool, your dog had the time of his life, you had an unforgettable Ligurian meal and a nightcap at the lounge. What else is missing to complete that perfect stay at La Meridiana Resort? The morning after when you wake up and walk into the breakfast room with tables laden with freshly-baked cakes, bread, cookies, pies, selections of local cheese and salumi, tea, fresh fruits, cereals and eggs. I have always believed that breakfast is the most important meal of the day and at La Meridiana, it seems that they want to make sure that you are filled up before you set out again for a full day of discovering Liguria.
LA MERIDIANA RESORT RELAIS & CHATEAUX
Via ai Castelli 11 – Regione San Rocco
17033 Garlenda (SV) Italy
Tel: +39 0182 580271
Fax: +39 0182 580150
Rowena Dumlao - Giardina is the author and photographer of Apron and Sneakers and The Chosen Table. Besides her blog, she's also a recipe developer and a travel writer for other food and travel sites.