The narrative of Naples is of bygone glories, modern-day corruption and opportunities lost. And that’s why it was exciting to see an optomistic project like Hotel Piazza Bellini: a new 50-room art hotel in a historic building converted from private apartments. A few skerricks, such as scraps of floor tiles, hint at the building’s former life (personally we would have liked to have seen a bit more) but this project makes no appologies for looking to the future, rather than the past.
Generalisations are unavoidably fraught, but allow us to generalise and say that – generally – Italians don’t do bohemian well. (Elegant, sleek, dramatic, and over-the-top, yes.) But a fervour for neatness and cleanliness wrapped up with a good dollop of ‘What-will-the-neighbours-think?’ school of conformity gets in the way of laissez-faire patina required for true boho atmos.
Hotel Piazza Bellini straddles the two positions with a modern hotel whose generously proportioned rooms sparkle with ‘neat n clean’ while offering a dollop of home-grown art. Collaborators include Alessandro Cocchia (who made the paintings in the corridors and some of the rooms) and his design agency, Zelig, which was charged with creating a graphic language for signage throughout the establishment. Their cartoonish aesthetic gives a light-hearted nudge-nudge, wink-wink in the context of a rather traditional building endowed with grand facade of columns and what-not.
The result is a historic building with an unashamedly modern interior and asks you to look twice – both literally and philosophically – by bringing contemporary art into the ancient and historic context that is Napoli. Hotel manager Cristina Falco reveals her ambitions for the hotel and the city itself when she says, “We hope that Naples can be reborn through projects such as ours and through the art and creativity of new artists.”
Neighbourhood perks: the hotel is walking distance to the National Archeological Museum of Naples. Just next door is the cheerfully eccentric La Stanza del Gusto ‘cheese cafe’, which also offers drinks, dinner, snacks and friendly service. The nearest metro stations are Dante and Museo.
What We Love
What we liked: the playfulness of the art, the atmospheric courtyard that features an installation of ‘eyes’ by the Scuotto brothers and offers comfortable respite from the traffic. The bright and ample rooms that have lots of storage space – something that is often missing from the contemporary hotel. While the space is yet to develop a ‘patina’ that screams ‘Naples’ the freshness of the place is itself, er, ‘refreshing’ and its lack of pretension – and fussiness – makes it one of the best places to stay in Naples.
Room size and orientation vary considerably – some have views, some have balconies, some are only accesible by stairs… Request the sort of room you’d like at the time of booking. The higher the floor, the more likely you’ll land a room with a view. Nobody goes to Naples for the peace and quiet and the hotel is in a happening part of town so if you are bothered by traffic noise etc, request a room on a high floor, or even at the back of the hotel.