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“Narcissistic numpty!”
Review of La Bella Vita

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La Bella Vita
Ranked #5 of 6 Hitchin B&B and Inns
Reviewed 10 October 2013

We've been to the restaurant several times, over a period of five years living in Hitchin. The last ever occasion was New Years Eve '12. I don't make a habit of posting online reviews but it's been ten months and I'm still feel peeved enough to find the motivation for this one.

We had always liked the food (to be fair, it is above average) in the past and had decided we could put up with the owners overtures: his constant regaling of us with dull and rather boastful tales about his life. (His own portrait hung in the main seating area tells you all you need to know.)

So we booked for New Year's Eve. I called and he took the booking, name and time were all we discussed. Job done. We get there in the evening and before us on the table are set menus for four courses. The price, about £130 for two before a tip, was higher than we'd usually go at this place but far from the issue. My girlfriend was seven months pregnant and not eating huge amounts. Two courses at this place was enough to leave us feeling very full. We asked the waitress for the normal menu or some options.

Subsequently, we were told — by the owner, 'via' the embarrassed waitress — that it was pretty much a take it or leave it deal. I called him over and asked him to explain. Firstly, there had been no mention of any set menu when we made the booking. Second, one of us was heavily pregnant and we were in a town of heaving, fully booked restaurants — what should we do? With a dismissive gesture and sneer he suggested "Maybe Zizzi across the road?" (Not sure if this was a swipe at us, or Italian franchise restaurants in general? Probably both.) We were furious but managed to get our own coats and leave without making too much of a scene (difficult but other diners were trying to enjoy NYE).

We resolved to go home and ordered a Chinese takeaway from Magic Wok, which was lovely — you should try it if you're in the area. La Bella Vita? Not so much. With the dated decor and his rambling stories (not to mention the obvious lack of any genuine concern for customers) it — unavoidably — feels like a sad little slice of the owner's past. And he really has no one else to blame for that but himself.

Stayed: December 2012, travelled as a couple
10  Thank GTBurns
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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109 - 115 of 149 reviews

Reviewed 7 October 2013

We booked 3 double rooms,( one being a disabled room ) at the hotel for two nights,we were told we could have 1 night at a reduced rate providing we had a meal in their restaurant to the value of at least £25 per person, which wasn't a problem as we were celebrating my son-in-laws 50th birthday.
On arriving at 4.30pm after a long journey we couldn't get into the hotel as there was no one about, so we rang the mobile number that was on the door of the restaurant 3 times and each time told that the number wasn't available, on the 4th time which by then it was 5pm the owner answered his phone and came and let us in, there was no apology about keeping us waiting and he took us to our disabled room which had a shower over a very high bath which I wouldn't be able to get in, so he took us to another room which we had to go up 4 steps to the door and 3 steps down into the room.
We had booked a table for eight in the evening and ordered our meals, there was no problem with the starters but on the main course one meal didn't come out until the rest of us had to start because ours was getting cold and another meal didn't come so we asked how long it would be and the waitress said 'oh another two minutes' when it came they had quickly rustled up a chicken stir fry, which the waitress just quickly plonked down on the table and quickly left with no apology one of our other party had ordered the same meal and this one bore no resemblance to it at all they had obviously forgotten the meal. We asked for the bill of which the owner sent her with, so we asked for him as she said they had took the service charge off and there shouldn't have been one. He came and we said we shouldn't have to pay for the one main course so he took the cost off the bill, still no apology for the poor meal. Before leaving the waitress came and asked if we wanted breakfast and if so it would be £5 per person of which we declined. The following day we found out that it should have been included in the price of the room, so we went to see the owner and he was making excuses that it was the waitresses fault, and he would reimburse us the next morning at breakfast. As we suspected he wasn't around at breakfast and when we asked the waitress who had also cooked our breakfast, for him she said he was still sleeping, so we didn't get the £30 back that we were due. We found Giorgio the owner unable to apologise and very arrogant and after paying him £600 for our stay we are very dissatisfied customers. Hitchin is a beautiful little town and we visit often as we have family there, but none of us will ever go back to La Bella Vita

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5  Thank 133Jacqui
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 7 October 2013

When we arrived and shown to room it was beautiful, 4 poster bed, couldn't fault. Little did we know!
we was told when we booked that the room is £45 for first nights as long as we book a table and spend min of £25 per person and second night would be £65 but tried charging us £70 for each night, when going to the restaurant there was 8 of us and the starter was amazing but when it came to the mane I got mine and waited 10 minutes before another meal came out then a further 10 minutes for the vegetables, One of the party was completely forgotten about and it was rushed together and he received it 20 minutes later when everyone had almost finished there's, with no apology just 'Oh they made a mistake in the kitchen',
When we were given the bill the waitress said we have removed the gratuities for the mistake, Gratuities are Tips and you should not be made to pay tips, so we complained and said we feel that, the meal that was so late and wrong should of been free of which after some discussion they did reluctantly. They then came and asked if we were wanting breakfast in the morning and if we do it is £5 per person. Obviously trying to get the money back from the meal.
We were told the price for the room included breakfast.and also says on there website it is included we did not say anything until morning as we were not 100% sure and wanted to check. So we did not have breakfast the first morning, when confronted the owner blamed the waitress and said he would refund £5 per person when we leave. which would have been £30, On the morning we left the owner was know where to be seen and the waitress could not give it to us,

The first night we did not get to sleep until 3.00am and the following night we did not get to sleep until 3.30am as the hotel room was right opposite a pub/night club, The owner was not bothered and did not warn us about this, he just said we always put the young ones in these rooms, well now I know why! We are not even young we are in our 40's.
It was disgusting, the whole experience was awful and we will never be returning, and would not recommend!

Room Tip: Do not go!
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  • Stayed: October 2013, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank Laurels H
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 12 September 2013

We stayed here recently for 4 days before going abroad. I had a room at the front overlooking the street. It was very good and decorated beautifully. The antique furniture was a pleasant surprise. The room was quite large and the bed was very comfy too. The hotel is located right in the town centre but still quiet enough. On site parking was a bonus. Georgio, the owner is a great guy and made us feel comfortable. I would definately recommend this hotel to friends and family.

  • Stayed: September 2013, travelled as a couple
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Thank Peter W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 July 2013

Myself and my boyfriend stayed here for 2 nights as we had a wedding to attend and found it to be a very nice experience. The rooms were a little dated but they were clean and comfortable. We booked a meal for the Friday night, we sat in the little bar beforehand to have a drink and the owner came over and sat with us and took us through the specials that were on offer and took our order. The food was delicious my boyfriend had the steak and I have chicken in a white wine sauce, it was so tasty. The service was great the young lad waiter that served us was very attentive and polite. The desserts trolley was also lovely we had a chocolate mousse! The breakfast was lovely they offered a cooked breakfast and there was also a small choice of cereals and crossaints, etc.
Overall the stay was a very nice experience I would go back without a doubt and would recommend it.

  • Stayed: July 2013, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank KK2012186338
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 May 2013

I have been staying at the Bella Vita about once a month for the last two years whilst travelling on business. This is a real gem in a town that is severely deprived of reasonable hotels. It is quirky in that the reception is just talking to the staff in the traditional Italian restaurant but they are always ready to talk and be both very friendly and lots of fun.

The rooms vary from very traditional to modern. Some have four poster beds and the old (and sometimes quirky) charms of a very old market town building and others are completely modern. All bathrooms look to have have been refurbished within the last 2-3 years with many I have seen being completed in just the last 12 mths and several with new whirlpool baths (These are the cleanest I've seen in Hitchin by a long way). All rooms I've had have large flat-screen TV's (I'm guessing approximately 37"- 47") and DVD players and all the beds have amazingly comfortable memory foam mattresses (If you haven't tried these, neither had I but I am now a convert as these beds are the most comfortable of any hotels I stay in).

Whilst this hotel does not have many of the facilities you would expect from a high street chain such as a room service menu, telephone in the room and a night porter, Georgio the owner is always available on his mobile number which is on the door of the reception. He will also cook you anything you want from the restaurant's menu or make you something off-menu to your liking and have it delivered to your room. I must say this is a service I take advantage of and I must hugely recommend the cooking. Both Georgio and his head chef are superb and I genuinely believe they could easily go for a Rosette for perfectly cooked Venetian/Italian cuisine. The pasta is home made and the best I have ever tasted. All produce is bought fresh with daily visits to the best markets to get the highest quality ingredients. Whether it is Monk Fish, Norfolk Gold Chicken, Quail, the tenderest of quality steaks or their home made sauces, you know you are going to get tender and perfectly cooked quality food.

I'm looking for any opportunity to bring my wife here for a stay and to enjoy the food and conversation with Georgio and his staff. If you do visit, the only thing I would say is take it for what it is, a friendly and quirky privately owned hotel at a restaurant serving top quality food in a town with very little choice for good hotels.

By the way, if you want to know if this review is genuine, have a look at the other feedback I have given. You will see that I live on the south coast and I don't give unnecessary recommendations.

Room Tip: Ask for a four poster bed, whirlpool bath or a quiet room at the back depending on what is most impo...
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  • Stayed: May 2013, travelled on business
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Thank Jon C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 April 2013

Nice stay, good food and wine. I liked the discussion with the Chef and staff about wine & Dine & Brunello. looking forward for next stay. Room 32 ( Suite ) is highly recomended. Super Giant TV and Rain Shower. All in all very good.

Room Tip: Room / Suite 32 with superb Bathroom and 60" TV !!
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  • Stayed: April 2013, travelled on business
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Thank chris j
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Bella Vita

Address: 9 Sun Street, Hitchin SG5 1AE, England
Region: United Kingdom > England > Hertfordshire > Hitchin
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Kitchenette Restaurant Suites
Hotel Style:
Ranked #5 of 6 B&Bs / Inns in Hitchin
Price Range: £49 - £127 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — La Bella Vita 3*
Number of rooms: 24
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Also Known As:
La Bella Vita Hotel Hitchin
La Bella Vita Hitchin, Hertfordshire

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