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“SHORT STAY” 4 of 5 bubbles
Review of La Francesca

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La Francesca
Ranked #6 of 10 Bonassola B&B and Inns
Alton, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
3 reviews
3 hotel reviews
“SHORT STAY”
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 23 September 2013

We went to stay here for two nights and we did not expect too much from it. This is not a five star resort but it is a really friendly happy and quiet place with great views and a really nice restaurant.
Perhaps the beds could have been more comfortable but I would go back any time just to sit on my balcony and enjoy the view. The resort is on a hillside so you need to be able to walk uphill.

  • Stayed September 2013, travelled with friends
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank CHESTER W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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390 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Sleep Quality
    4 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    3.5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (10)
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Utrecht, The Netherlands
Level Contributor
11 reviews
7 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 August 2013

We have been visiting La Francesca 3 times in the last 5 years. We are two adults and have three children 11, 14 and 16 years old. We like walking, swimming, pure Italian style, tennis etc,
We always rented a 3 sleeping room villa. The park is beatifull, very well located. For breakfast you can buy everthing you need in the park market, but since we like a morning walk we always walk to Bonossola (± 25 minutes) via the mountain walk or via the tunnels to buy our stuff and have a fresh cappucinno. We do this because we go to Francesca for the environment and the Italian style. The villa's are not luxery, but well cleaned, can be hot in summer (if 36 degrees plus) but have a nice shower and good enough and clean kitchen. We like it that Bonossola and to a lesser extend Levanto have not to many foreign tourist. Our kids like Francesaca as well, the internet works (for kids startign 14 years a must :-), and they like to quit place, good food (within the park) but also at nearby villages, swimming in the see (snorkling) and the swimming pool. So for us this is one of the best places we know in Italy.

Room Tip: State clearly what you want...seaside, near the swimmign pool or near the sea etc. we always got wha...
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Ted_Leyen
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
35 reviews
16 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 42 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 12 August 2013

La Francesca
My wife and I and our two year old daughter stayed here at the start of August 2013.

The place is, frankly, disappointing. "Resort" is stretching it. Instead, think "campsite" but with villas instead of caravans and you're much closer. It'd get a much better grade if they were more open about how basic it is but then realistically they'd have to admit it's not worth the money they're charging. Instead they're overcharging and to my mind their score here is a product of cognitive dissonance since it's pretty good if you're comparing it to other 2* places.

Don't get me wrong, it's a nice setting, and the scenery is very pretty. The pool is nice (when it's open of course; it closes over lunch and quite early in the evening) and the restaurant has very good food and amazing views (but book in advance unless you want to be turned away). The houses have all been constructed such that no balcony has sightlines of another, so you feel pretty private unless somebody walks past.

However.
But.

The apartments / villas are set on the side of a steep hill, with some clustered around the top of the hill near the mini market. The ones at the top of the hill have better access to the the swimming pool and mini market, but have worse / no views, and you can't park a car nearby. There are a handful of spaces on the hill if you get one of the villas near the bottom, but most cars will have to use the communal car parks which are busy and frequently full. Sadly every single villa is compromised in some way; no matter where you stay, there will always be several drawbacks.

The villas were built in the late 60s. The décor hasn't been updated since then. They've had a fresh coat of paint and they're clean, but it feels horrid. I can't describe how depressing it was walking in there and thinking ... "I've paid how much to stay here for a week?". The fixtures are tired and work poorly. The TV is an old small CRT screen with bad reception. The fridge had had its thermostat removed / broken off, it didn't keep stuff very cold, and the freezer compartment plain didn't work (melted ice cream anyone?). The gas stove top was old, required matches to light and often wouldn't stay lit, resulting in a lot of wasted matches. There was no microwave or oven. There were no oven mitts or dish cloths.

There's no WiFi unless you happen to be in the apartment at the bottom of the hill by the restaurant. That does however mean to get to the pool you will have a 10 minute slog up a steep hill (so steep my car sometimes struggled even in first). There's WiFi at reception too, but there's no villas nearby and it's fairly flakey even if you're standing right outside.

Worst of all there's no air conditioning and no ceiling fans. When we arrived, the weather has been over 30°C all day and the windows had been kept closed. It was like an oven inside even at midnight. Requests for even a portable fan were ignored. The hot weather persisted for our visit; with the balcony doors left open throughout the day, the living room would be bearably cool at night, but even with the windows open the bedroom had no airflow and was permanently stiflingly hot. It was uncomfortable at best. A ceiling fan would make all the difference, but the owners are clearly too cheap to renovate rooms that are decades past needing it.

There's a small market onsite if you need to buy anything (though it's pricey). Their focaccia is nice, but even if you order some the night before there's no guarantee they'll have it for you the next morning (they gave our order away, for example). If you want to shop anywhere else, you'll have to do the 5-10 minute drive to Levanto or Bonassola. Or alternatively, you can walk down past the restaurant to the footpath that runs between Levanto and Bonassola - it's mostly tunnels, so nice and shady. On the one time we tried it, it took us about 50 minutes to get from our villa to the train station in Levanto, and we were using the pram. The other days we drove to the station; it was a lot easier, and much quicker.

The children's play area is like everything else; good on paper, but in practise it's run down and in severe need of repair / modernisation.

For completeness I should mention the private beach, which is OK. It's pretty, but clearly artificially created and is pebbles rather than sand. You can clamber past several big rocks if you want to swim out to sea, but you'll either need tough feet or swim shoes. And don't swim too far out as speedboats are constantly zipping past. There's some decking and a big awning to provide shade, but there's nothing else down there, so take all the water and food you need if you plan on making a day of it (depending on where your villa is, it's between 5 and 15 minutes walk back to your villa).

Staying here did not stop us having a nice holiday (the nearby villages and surrounding area are just too good to be ruined by naff holiday accomodation), but it certainly didn't add to it. It'll forever be "that rubbishy place we stayed in CinqueTerre".

Room Tip: Bottom of the hill near the restaurant - but be prepared to drive up to the swimming pool
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  • Stayed August 2013, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
7 Thank Andrew G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
211146, Responsabile relazioni pubbliche at La Francesca, responded to this review, 18 August 2013
Before mention some dutiful clarifications and corrections , I would like to thank Andrew and Margaret of the long and detailed review, and their suggestions. in my opinion the most problems reported by them are due to incorrect information. Andrew and Margareth have not booked directly, but through an agency that evidently did not give all the necessary information
To avoid possible problems in date 26th july we sent an email to Margaretht in which we explained the specific nature of our resort. (with attached a video where you can clearly see that we are on a steep hill), but we haven’t received any replies from them and we have thought that the explanations was sufficient or they were not interested in learning detailed information about our resort
The total amount of the stay for 7 nights for two adults and a two year old girl in a cottage of 40 sqm. Including parking (70 meters from the cottage) private beach, with sun terrace and babypool, a second swimmingpool mt.25x10 pool, playground, free wi-fi at the bar (50 meters from their cottage and bonus of € 100 as consumption at our restaurant was € 1,250 Included the commission due to the agency.
In order to have a term of comparison 1-hour parking in Levanto is € 1.75 and the price for a sunbed to rent in Bonassola is € 20 per day!
Inaccuracies:
our pool is open from 10.30 / 13.30 to 15/19 the paddling pool and solarium at sea from 8am to 8 pm.
The houses were built in 1962 and the interior was completely restructured in 2003; possible failures -if reported- will be repaired as soon as possibile.
As clearly indicated the kitchenette is not equipped with oven and also the tv is the old model ; we think that our guests prefer to stay in a shady park of 15 hectares or at the beach instead of watching TV programs of poor quality.
Climate is generally breezy and all cottages have entrance facing north the windows: one facing south, one east, and one towards west, provide good natural ventilation
Francesca's waterfront is nearly 1km! with three small rocky bays, one equipped with sun terrace sail awning, deck chairs, showers, hammocks and sun loungers on the underside, and automatic distributor of soft drinks.
The beach is a small cove between the rocks (we are not in Rimini) unfortunately the entrance to the sea is rather difficult (piers are not allowed), but the waters are clean,crystal and clear; speedyboats are very few because we confine with the Marine Area of the 5 Terre National Nark with limited access to boats ).
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Travellers are raving about these Bonassola hotels

Wilmington, North Carolina
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 8 helpful votes
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 5 August 2013

As my wife was checking out upon the conclusion of what was a very unsatisfactory four day stay at La Francesca, she got the obligatory "how did you enjoy your visit" inquiry. In an attempt to find something positive to say about the experience, she replied that we enjoyed the walks into town. Ironically, she was asked if she would post that on TripAdvisor, so here goes on her behalf:

The old railway trail between Bonassola and Levanto (which is accessible via a steep climb down from La Francesca), was an unexpected treat -- scenic, nicely graded, newly paved, well lit, shady thanks to the tunnels, and filled with families on foot and bicycle late into the night, making the hike into either town from La Francesca much more pleasant in the heat of July than expected, even with two children in tow. We ended up spending a lot of time on this trail getting away from La Francesca.

Given the detailed reviews on TripAdvisor, I should have known what we were getting into. But, we found limited options available in the area that allowed for a family of four, so I mentally discounted these negative comments as coming from folks who were misled by the 4 star resort label (which La Francesca certainly is not), and I hoped with lowered expectations and modest requirements that we'd have a better stay.

Our bad experience started a week after reserving the unit (and a week before departing for Italy), when La Francesca emailed to inform us that the deluxe family cabin we had reserved online required a one week minimum stay this time of year, that we had been incorrectly allowed to make the reservation due to a technical error, and that it would not be available for the four days we had reserved. Since we had already booked our flights around these dates, this left us in a predicament, but after some panic from my wife they subsequently offered to move us into a less expensive cabin that was available for a shorter duration.

When we arrived at La Francesca we put the negativity of that encounter behind us, and still hoped for a good stay. But, things went quickly downhill -- after multiple failed attempts to make the key work at our cabin (which we had to track down via a map), we realized that the cabin that we were assigned (listed as 604 on our map and on the key), was not in fact 604, but was instead the unlabeled underside of cabin 604 (apparently the only unit in the place which didn't warrant its own number). Presumably this space was designed to provide additional capacity to the main unit above, which wouldn't be so bad with access to that balcony and view, but on its own was very depressing.

Everything in the under-cabin was either dingy, dirty, or uncomfortable, comparable to an inexpensive camping cabin at a US state park. To be fair, some of the cabins at the lower end of the hill had what looked like very spectacular views from their balconies, which may have compensated to some degree for the state of the interiors, but ours had none of the view, so the overall package was far out of line with the price we were paying (which was very high even with the forced downgrade).

Other than one particularly friendly employee in the bar/market, the staff at La Francesca consistently made us feel as if our presence was an inconvenience. While hospitality staff in northern Italy seemed to be, in general, more reserved than those in the US, nowhere else on the trip did we suffer from such consistently rude attitudes (an experience that seems also reflected in many of the other reviews).

In the past my family and I have had very enjoyable stays in rustic eco lodges that were far more modest in amenities than those at La Francesca, even off the power grid in many cases, so we're not particularly picky about those type of things. But, everything about La Francesca feels as if they think they get a pass to do the bare minimum necessary to make the "resort" hospitable due to the natural beauty in the surroundings. Unfortunately, this turns a place with so much potential into a very mediocre experience.

A few other notes / observations:

- As other reviewers mention, you get one set of bath towels, and one roll of toilet paper per week. Extra towels cost you EUR 5 each. Extra toilet paper, soap, etc. you must buy in the market. The menu of additional upcharges is almost humorous -- room cleaning is EUR 35, extra heating in the winter is EUR 3 per hour, and so on. Checkout is at 10:00am -- if you need to leave at 11:00am, it's EUR 20. The one day my kids ventured up to use the pool area, the pool attendant told them to leave the hot tub, which other kids with which he was playing were using, telling them it cost extra. As ridiculous as this sounds, I would normally discount it as an error in translation, but at La Francesca, I take this at face value.

- The cabin had no air conditioning or fan, so it got sweltering hot even at night in late July, with little breeze to help (particularly in our unit).

- To push the needle from bad to comically bad, my wife and I woke one night to bug bites, and upon turning on the light found the bed sheets and headboard covered in ants.

- It was very very difficult to track down a usable wifi signal on the property -- there was none around the cabins, or in the bar/market area -- we resorted to sitting on the ground mid-way up the hill to the registration area to get online.

- We seemed to be the only guests in the facility without a vehicle, which made picking up provisions other than the limited selection from the on-site market very difficult (there was no shuttle available). While the walks into Levanto or Bonassola for supplies was certainly doable (with kids, about 40 minutes from the top of La Francesca to the main business area of Levanto), more than once per day was impractical, and the walk back up into La Francesca from the main trail was particularly treacherous in the dark (we were saved by a flashlight iPhone app). A cab ride to or from Levanto was EUR 20, and had to be booked ahead of time via phone.

- Given the lack of transport to Levanto, La Franesca is not a great place from which to launch visits into Cinque Terre (adding the walk to the train station into both ends of the daytrip makes for a very long day).

In closing, La Francesca has the elements of what could be a great experience, unfortunately, for us at least, the stay was by far the worst we had while in Italy.

  • Stayed July 2013, travelled with family
    • 1 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
8 Thank Gary S
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Munich, Germany
Level Contributor
25 reviews
9 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 7 helpful votes
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 2 June 2013

This is second time we have been to la Francesca.
The children and us love it very much for the place offers very nice panoramas on the sea with no cheap buildings, roads, supermarket....
Beauty desserves some efforts but at the end WALKING in the nature is one good reason we love this part of Liguria.
Reaching for Bonnassola by the coast is beautiful. Nice beach and small cafe in Bonassola
The nature is everywhere but the two cities are not far (15mn / 25mn walking distance - Old train tunnels now pedestrian / cycling/ roller blading ways).
In Bonassola or Levanto, trains depart every 20mn to the Cinque terre or to Sestri Levante, Genova.
This is very convenient unless you choose to be the "long distance" bagpacker (nothing for us with the kids).
The restaurant in la Francesca serves good food / good products. Suggest the "amazing Terrass should be opened"!

Room Tip: All bungalows have terrass on the sea. Choose East if you are an early bird or South/ West for the...
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  • Stayed May 2013, travelled with family
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 4 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank Vincent M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
amsterdam, the netherlands
1 review
4 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 19 April 2013

We return almost every year to this wonderful place. Although Cinque terres can be crowded,
a few kilometers above la Francesca is very quiet, beautiful and a magic spot. The apartments are high on the hill with -great asset!- direct view on the endless sea. In May and June it's full of flowers. From the park you can walk to two very nice villages through tunnels : Levanto and Bonasola. But you don't have to leave as there is a shop and a nice restaurant at La Fancesca. The appartments itself are simple but ok, except for the beds which really need an upgrade.

  • Stayed May 2012, travelled as a couple
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank joanna b
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Geneva, Switzerland
Level Contributor
61 reviews
11 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
3 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 8 April 2013

4 stars back in 1965, yes, absolutely! Flash forward to 2013 and the very dated hotel has a ton of potential, but leaves a bit to be desired for the price and the "4 Star" label. We stayed over a long weekend- Easter- and paid extra for an apartment by the sea. Our location was great, with a fabulous view, and even an amazing deck on top where I was able to practice yoga on the one day we were blessed with sun! We were strong-armed into going to the hotel resto one night for dinner because we recieved a 50Euro voucher with our "deal" and were actually pleasently surprised by the quality of the food. Fresh seafood typical of the region was great, and it was very "family friendly" as we were not the only ones with a baby in tow.

Positives: view, nearby hiking trails, kitchen and bedroom with a small balcony where you can hear the constant crashing sea! The surroundings are beautiful with amazing trees, flowers, etc where maintained.

Room for improvement: Condition of the apartment- our pluming backed up so much that all drains were clogged and the toiled would not flush! The kitchen was still from the 60's and not of good quality when installed and the decor was chinsy Ikea"esque" - Also, there was also severe mold damage in the resto...

Good for a nice view if you get a house or one of the sea side apartments, also beautiful fresh grounds. Would be interesting to see in the summer when the other "amenities" are up and running like the pool near the sea, and I'd hope some lounge chairs to take in the sun.

Room Tip: Get an apartment by the sea or one of the houses.
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  • Stayed March 2013, travelled with family
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Value
    • 5 of 5 bubbles
      Location
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Sleep Quality
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Rooms
    • 2 of 5 bubbles
      Cleanliness
    • 3 of 5 bubbles
      Service
Helpful?
Thank acpc27
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Francesca

Property: La Francesca
Address: Localita La Francesca, 19011 Bonassola, Italy
Phone Number:
Region: Italy > Liguria > Italian Riviera > Bonassola
Amenities:
Beach Business Centre with Internet Access Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Free Parking Kitchenette Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Suites Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #6 of 10 B&Bs / Inns in Bonassola
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:4 star — La Francesca 4*
Number of rooms: 55
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Open all year around: 55 houses and apartments from 2+1 to 6+2 beds with kitchenette, bathroom and terrace, in a marvellous park overlooking the sea of Cinque Terre; the ideal place for a holiday immersed in nature. Beach, swimmingpool, tennis, playground; restaurant, bar, minimarket. 60 minutes from Genova airport (1 hour and 15' from Pisa); 15 minutes from Carrodano-Levanto exit of the motorway A 12 Genova-Livorno; 5 minutes drive from Levanto station - starting point for trains to Cinque Terre - that you can reach in 15 minutes walk through the old railway tunnels, recently restored and opened to the hikers. Aperto tutto l'anno: 55 appartamenti e villette da 2+1 a 6+2 posti letto, con angolo cottura, bagno e terrazza, in un grande parco sul mare delle Cinque Terre; luogo ideale per una vacanza immersa nella natura.Spiaggia riservata, piscina, tennis, impianti sportivi, campo giochi; ristorante, bar, minimarket. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
La Francesca Villas And Resort
La Francesca Villas Hotel Bonassola

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