“ Address: Viale Lamberti / Ex Area Saint Gobain / Caserta 81100 / Italy „
I wouldn't normally stay at a Crowne Plaza hotel but I managed to score a pretty good deal on this one in Caserta (Euro262 for 3 nights). But why Caserta? Well, we wanted to stay in the general area of Vesuvius and one stay in Naples is enough for any sane person. A quick search around for suitable hotels in the general area doesn't fill one with much optimism either. So, when we came across this one we grabbed it.
Caserta is just a few miles north of Naples and sits almost astride the motorway so it's easy to find as is the hotel. You just head for the Royal Palace, then head back out of town following the signs for the hotel...simples.
It's situated in an area that was once dominated by heavy industry but has long since been lying derelict. Lots of new development is going on with a mix of commercial and residential but some of the old industrial buildings have been saved as a kind of monument - there was a huge chimney nearby which made for a very handy landmark (just in case we got lost...as if).
We sailed into the underground car park (not easy in a car) and proceeded to the reception area. To say the lobby was large would be a bit of an understatement as the photo at the top of the page almost relates.
The hotel consists of four, six storey blocks arranged around a central courtyard with a covered glass roof. There's a mezzanine floor on the first storey where a cafe and bar are situated. Also on this level is a pond which feeds a water feature. The water feature takes the shape of a glass wall with a torrent of water streaming down it. This is highlighted at night by ever-changing lights and is most effective.
Considering the size of the hotel (312 rooms), the reception was very quiet and we were checked in in no time. There are lifts all over the place in this hotel and after eventually working out that you have to scan your room card-key to make the bloomin thing work (the guy at check-in did tell us but I wasn't really listening) we were soon whisked up to our room.
The room was pretty large - I would say on a par with rooms in the US, and had two decent size double beds. These were firm and comfortable and there was a choice of pillows on offer. The decor was very unthreatening (although I can't remember the last time some wallpaper made me nervous). No, beige and cream and soft shades of in-between 'dominated' the colour scheme. Everything was very clean and in a very good state of repair.
The room was equipped much as would be expected in a 4* hotel of the corporate variety, that is: two beds, bedside cabinets, tables and chairs, work station etc. We had a large TV with plenty of channels including movies, and a mini bar with plenty of space to put our own beer, juice and water. Unusually for an Italian hotel, we had tea and coffee making facilities without having to ask for them...even some biccies.
There was a large wardrobe with plenty of drawer space and a discreetly placed safe. AC was of the freeze the manyakkas off a non-ferrous primate variety.
On the downside, although we had a large balcony, it was minus a table and chairs.
The bathroom was large and came complete with a full size tub, not to mention the unmentionables. It was completely tiled and literally awash with quality toiletries. A nice touch was the bathrobe and slippers.
We didn't eat in the hotel - no brekkie nor nuffin. This was probably just as well as the restaurant never seemed to be open. On reflection, this explains why check-in was so easy. I think we were the only guests in the hotel.
It's a pity, because the eating out options in Caserta are somewhat limited. I've never been in an Itallian city with so few (or so well hidden) ristoranti.
As for amenities, the hotel has a health & fitness room but for the life of me, I couldn't find it...there was however, a beautiful outdoor pool which I made some use of.
The hotel largely caters for the convention crowd and I'm sure it must get fairly busy when a large convention is on. Luckily, we had it quiet.
Back to the theme of how quiet it was, they advertise a live pianist in the imaginatively titled 'Piano bar' but we saw no sign of an ivory tinkler either dead or alive.
In conclusion, I thought this was a fabulous hotel. We had a lovely room, friendly staff and perhaps due to the lack of other guests, it felt as though we had the place to ourselves.
Caserta itself isn't too impressive although the Royal Palace and Gardens are spectacular and a few miles up a torturously winding (and badly signposted) road brings you to Casertavecchia (old town) which is worth the visit. It's also just a short drive (20 mins or so depending on traffic) to the bay of Naples.
On the downside, the area around the hotel is bland with very little in the way of shops or dining opportunities although the area is still in the process of being redeveloped so hopefully that will change.