Opening the wooden shutters to let the morning light shine into my hotel room, I lean out over the courtyard below and almost convince myself I've woken up on Juliet's balcony.
Not quite, but close. I'm in the five-star Palazzo Victoria, in the historic city centre of Verona where Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers met their fate.
Located close to the elegant
Corso di Porta Borsari – one of Verona’s main shopping streets – the hotel offers the perfect
authentic Italian escape for couples, as I found out first hand on a post-Valentine's trip to what's gotta be one of the most romantic cities in Italy.
Built on Medieval and Roman ruins which have been carefully preserved and featured throughout
the public areas and rooms, Palazzo Victoria effortlessly blends rich heritage with seamless
service and pure class.
Palazzo Victoria is what you imagine the interior of a luxury Italian villa to be like - opulent details with a homely vibe
Giant pool table? Check. Stylish white leather sofas and exposed brick? Check, check. Medieval murals can be spied throughout the hotel and stained glass ceiling details merge with sleek metals to create a hotel that's the perfect blend of old and new.
Checking in for the weekend after a day spent wandering around Milan, my first impressions of Verona began with Palazzo Victoria – a pleasant way to begin my 48 hours of pure indulgence in this beautiful city.
The rooms are decorated in rich fabrics and swoon- worthy dark woods, some have views of the square
The hotel comprises 74 rooms and suites – including Deluxe, Grand Deluxe, Grand Terrace Deluxe, Junior Suites and Suites – plus eight iconic suites including the Affresco and Victoria Suites.
I stayed in the Grand Deluxe and while not exactly huge, it had everything you'd ever want but on a gloriously luxe level. A view of the private courtyard below was a gorge sight to wake up to each morning and the jacuzzi bathtub meant I even enjoyed a DIY spa evening before dinner.
Rates for rooms begin at €330 per night for a Deluxe Room, not bad if you want to splash out on a special getaway and reasonable compared to hotels of a similar standard in Ireland.
All the rooms have been designed to incorporate the preservation of original Veronese décor, featuring traditional shutters, original frescoes, textile wallpapers, mahogany furniture and hand made linens – basically, Palazzo Victoria showcases the very best of Italian culture and luxury living.
Not only is the hotel itself utterly glam, it's also mere minutes away from Verona's best sights
Verona was the setting of many of Shakespeare’s works, and it’s not hard to see why. Steeped in history, the charming city centre is a hub of illustrious sites, traditional and fusion cuisine and haute couture.
Nestled in Northern Italy, Verona is the ideal ‘48’ hour destination and a perfect pilgrimage for romantics and culture vultures alike. Wrought-iron balconies are on almost every building and clusters of bars serving aperitivo and traditional trattorias makes Verona a charming city to stroll around, popping in to wherever catches your eye on your wander.
The hotel was less than 10 minutes walk from the Verona Arena, a huge 1st-century Roman Amphitheatre and equidistant from Juliet's Balcony, where loved-up tourists rubbed the bronze statue of Juliet for luck and took selfies on the balcony in the 14th-century house where the famous play was set.
Alternatively, the city – which is a little over an hour from both Milan and Venice – makes a fantastic base for exploring the neighbouring regions, from wine- tasting in Valpolicella, sailing on Lake Garda, or skiing in the Dolomites.
Myself and my partner didn't have time to explore much of the surrounding area unfortunately, but that just gives us an excuse for another visit in the summertime – this time around filled with a day trip or two to one of the fab wine regions nearby.
Aperitivo snacks and boujie cocktails in the bar became our evening routine that I'm still missing
With an internal garden complete with columns and courtyard furniture, the Palazzo Victoria's Lounge e Café is the hotel’s vibrant and dynamic concept bar which offers a wide range of cocktails, prestigious wines and a selection of aperitifs that can be scoffed to the background of live jazz music.
Kicking off about 7pm, the indoor garden lounge is filled with aperitivo snacks and treats and we enjoyed starting off our night in the armchairs there, Aperol Spritz in hand, on both evenings of our stay.
There's something lovely about making time before dinner to relax with a drink and I'd recommend a visit to this hotel bar even if you're not staying there for the weekend.
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Cosy nooks were made for curling up with a book in and there's also a fine-dining restaurant, Borsari 36
While some five-star hotels feel stuffy, my weekend in Palazzo Victoria was just like being at home (if home was a fabulous Italian residence) and I spent a happy hour or so on Sunday morning reading my book in the lobby.
Food-lovers are well looked after in the hotel's restaurant, Borsari 36, which has a dinner menu of fresh local pasta dishes and meat and fish. An extravagant brunch is held on Sundays (€60 per person for a seafood and four course buffet with drinks) that was unfortunately quiet the weekend I was there, but I imagine that in summer the terrace area would be packed to the brim.
Often overlooked in favour of more popular cities such as Rome or the nearby Milan, I found that Verona has plenty of secrets to discover on a romantic getaway.
Follow in the footsteps of Romeo and Juliet and have your very own Shakespeare-inspired weekend break; with a stay in a swanky hotel such as Palazzo Victoria a must for a trip to remember.