Simon Michalak reviews something a little out of the ordinary for Chocablog – a hotel!
Early in April I found myself starting a two week stint of work in Italy, and purely by chance we were booked into this hotel for our first night’s stay.
“What a lovely coincidence” I thought. Business and pleasure and business.
So what does the hotel say about itself?
“The first hotel in the world dedicated to chocolate: 94 comfortable rooms, set on three floors, unusually named after the Milk, the Gianduja and the Dark chocolate. The Hotel houses a delightful Restaurant where an entirely cocoa-based menu may also be enjoyed, besides a well-stocked Chocostore where products of the best chocolate manufactures may be sampled and purchased.”
So reads the website blurb – but does it live up to it’s promise?
The hotel entrance sits between the reception area and the Chocostore, so as one enters you see the incredibly well stocked shop to the left, and the reception desk to the right.
Just to the left of a small bar, there is a little display area including this.
The caption reads something like “Would you like to realise a dream? A bathtub full of chocolate!”
The reception area is very pleasing to the eye, and the walls are dotted with display cabinets offering various chocolate related crockery, mainly large cups and saucers, but also cocoa containers and plates.
There are also a number of displays offering chocolate trowels of various flavours which tend to give one the impression you’re in something like a cross between Willy Wonka’s factory and a garden centre.
The staff are friendly, speak good English and greet you with your room key and a bar of chocolate related to the floor you’re on. I was handed a bar of milk chocolate and directed to my floor.
The room numbers are placed in little frames which also house chocolate bar wrappers – an unusual touch, and one which can mean it takes a while to reach your room!
The room I was given was a double (just as well, as I don’t fit into a single bed!). My first ‘proper’ Italian hotel, and my first impression was how much like a Greek room it was. High ceilings, white walls, plenty of space, and some nice touches such as the desk (glass top over a collection of cups) and the mural.
Of course, as soon as I had settled into my room, I was off downstairs for a drink and a good old look around the hotel Chocostore.
The entrance to the chocostore is dominated by a wooden figurine of Pinocchio, who has a plaque around his neck proclaiming that he doesn’t like chocolate (and of course his nose is enormous).
The store itself sells all manner of choccie-related goodies, including t-shirts (a pair of chocolatey handprints strategically placed on the chesty area, anyone?) towels, hats, fleeces, lanyards (ideal for keeping one’s tour bus key on) and of course chocolate.
Chocolate of many hues, shapes, varieties and from all over the world.
They have a wall of display cabinets, each of which contains at least 30 varieties of chocolate from various manufacturers. Some cabinets are dedicated to one company (like the Stainer one in the photo) while others are more diverse. Needless to say, selecting a batch of bars to buy for tasting purposes was a time consuming task!
As well as bars, they offer unusual shaped novelties as well – keys, padlocks, tools (I have never seen a chocolate spanner before) but alas, no chocolate teapots (an ideal gift for anyone who has let you down, if you ask me).
The hotel bar is also well stocked with chocolate liqueurs (which I decided against trying), but I counted a good dozen bottles with the magic ‘C’ word on the labels.
My only real disappointment was that when I went to the restaurant for dinner, there was a distinct lack of chocolate related foodstuffs to be had. What happened there, I wonder? (The web site is 3 years out of date, by the way)
Overall, I’d say that the hotel definitely belies it’s 3 star rating. The unusual theme, good sized, comfortable rooms, and the friendliness of the staff push it higher. If you’re planning a piggy pilgrimage to the home of Baci (the Italian Ferroro Rocher?) I’d recommend the Chocohotel as a good starting point. An unusual theme, well executed, well stocked and very friendly. Nice work!