There are many options in Bologna, with a huge range of prices. From the Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni (200+ euros) to very well rated Aemilia Hotel (at <100 euros). It took me a while to settle on which hotel to pick.
- Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni: I’ve heard great things from my friend about the Grand Hotel Majestic Gia Baglioni, but frankly it looked a bit too old fashion for me.. especially at that price. Besides, there are so many more hotels in lower price brackets there that it didn’t seem necessary.
- Aemilia Hotel: It looked and sounded great on pictures and from the reviews. But I just couldn’t get over how far away it was from everything (and by everything I mean the town center and the train station). It just wasn’t NEAR anything. And when you travel, location is KEY.
- NH Bologna De La Gare: This hotel is well located near the train station and looked relatively new. But if you look closely at the reviews, you will notice that it is quite bipolar. Apparently this hotel is only partially renovated. So they have nice, newly renovated rooms and then there are some very old and depressing looking ones. You have to be sure to ask for the Superior (New Style) rooms!
- Starhotels Excelsior: To be frank, I had not considered this hotel when I did my research. Because I glanced at the pictures, and the rooms looked kind of old and frayed. But it also happens to be right next to the UNA Bologna so we walked passed several times while we were there. I was surprised to see how modern and attractive the lobby looked, and I wondered why we didn’t stay there. Someone even recently described it as a “Modern and Convenient Hotel”. I re-examined the pictures, and I’m wondering if maybe its just a poor choice of colors for the rooms? That type of navy just does not do anyone any favours.
- I Portici Hotel: This was a serious contender, and I spent the longest time debating between this and the UNA Bologna. This is supposedly a nice boutique hotel, with its very own Michelin starred restaurant inside as well. But the pictures of the rooms doesn’t exactly scream “modern chic boutique hotel.” It frankly looked a little odd (the way they make the beds??), bare and sad. Also I read a review where a tourist couldn’t find a cab to the train station cause it was so close (but not quite close enough with suitcases!). I was horrified and even posted a question on Tripadvisor. The hotel assured us that it is very easy and they just call the cab company.. but the seed was planted.
- UNA Bologna: In the end, I chose the UNA Bologna. Simply because it seemed the easiest. The rooms all look modern enough. It is right next to the train station. And it is cheap. Better to just pay less and get what you expect, than to pay more and bet on a wild card.
The Hotel: We pretty much got what we expected. The lobby was simple and modern. There was a no fringe quality to the hotel. You have to add money to everything. Even for better quality internet.
The staff was very nice though. And helped us make reservations at the Trattoria Anna Maria, which they say is very good (and also recommended by a friend of ours). The lobby computers are very outdated though. I would not recommend anyone using it, because after we used it we spent the longest trying to log off gmail.
The Rooms: The rooms were relatively clean and modern (exactly as pictured). The bathroom somehow feels a bit older than the rest of the room, but it was basic and functional.
The only problem with the room was that it was very very hot. We went back to take a nap during the afternoon, and it was boiling because of the sunlight (I guess light is a plus and a minus). I was so tired then that I didn’t do anything about it then. But that night, it was hot. We realized that the A/C was simply not working and called to ask the hotel about it. Apparently they were not allowed to turn on the A/C yet in April, Bologna city law. So it may not be a problem exclusive to the hotel. I suggest a high room, so you can at least open the windows to let some air in.
Location: It is well located right across from the Bologna train station. We literally just had to trolley our suitcases across the road. It is a bit of a walk to town center though (about 15-20 minutes). But cabs are easily available at the train station. I reckon that most of the “newer” hotels are closer to the train station than the center of town.
Breakfast: Breakfast was included and not crowded. Selection was continental as usual. Very basic.
- Well located next to the train station
- Modern and functional, you basically get what you see
- Very affordable
- No fringe, everything comes at added costs
- A bit far from the center of town
- Hot and somewhat stuffy rooms
Conclusion: Will recommend friehnds to come here? Sure, if they are looking for something affordable and basic for a quick stay. But if they prefer something a little nicer, I would tell them to take a look at other options.