Cento Ulivi

Golfo Aranci, Sardinia, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Stylish B&B close to the coast with a shimmering pool, big country views and lovely rooms with shaded terraces
You’re on the southern tip of the Costa Smeralda: sparkling white sands, crystal-clear water and a hot sun beating down relentlessly are the main ingredients. Cento Ulivi stands a couple of kilometres back from the action, a splendid retreat from the bustle of the pretty towns and bulging marinas, where the jetset park their enormous yachts. The pool terrace is hard to beat - views stretch over open country, running up attractive hills and down a lush valley - but if you want to hide from the sun, you can: all 5 rooms have big shaded terraces with wicker armchairs and a sofa to collapse in. As for the rooms themselves, none are small. Expect a lovely uncluttered style with white walls, white furniture, super beds, shuttered windows and power showers in spotless bathrooms.

Pull yourself away and find beaches pretty much everywhere, horses to ride, islands to visit, and the biggest surprise of all, Sardinia’s beautiful interior, which is stuffed with cute villages and ancient ruins. Owner Ivania knows the area well and spills its secrets freely (including the best ice cream on the island!). Chef Luciana cooks dinner on request, which you eat on the swimming pool terrace. It's absolutely perfect for couples but if you take the whole place, you get run of the kitchen, too, so it's also a great spot for friends and older families.

Highs

  • The pool, the views, the romantic rooms, the shaded terraces and only 12km from the airport - it’s what a lot of us want
  • The coast and its lovely beaches - a playground for sun-seekers
  • Sardinia's beautiful interior - well worth a day or 2 of your holiday
  • Ivania goes out of her way to make sure you find what you're looking for
  • Good value in spring and autumn, when the weather is still deliciously warm

Lows

  • Cento Ulivi stands above the road - it’s mostly quiet, but you hear the odd car
  • You’ll need a car or scooter to drive to restaurants, even though many are relatively close
  • Ivania has 3 big floppy dogs; very sweet, but if you don’t like dogs, you’ll be happier elsewhere

Best time to go

Avoid high season if possible (mid-July through August). Prices soar, temperatures can reach 40C, the roads get clogged and restaurants are tricky to book. May and June are deliciously warm. So is September, even early October. However, restaurants and beach bars are mostly closed by the end of the 3rd week in September.

Our top tips

  • If you fly into Olbia in high summer and you’re just here for the beaches, you might want to consider getting a taxi up to the house, then hiring a scooter in Porto Rotondo. You can fit 2 people on it comfortably and you’ll be able to nip down to the beach and park close to the action; car drivers, on the other hand, will be searching for distant parking spots
  • Also, in case you have a passing interest in the history of radio, Marconi made his first transmission from Golfo Aranci. It crossed the water to the big island that looms before you and has proved rather successful since
  • Finally, car ferries run between northern Sardinia and southern Corsica (they are separated by 10 miles of flat blue water), so it’s extremely easy to see 2 islands in 1 holiday
  • Great for...

    Beach
    Eco
    Family
    Great Outdoors
    Honeymoon
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique B&B
    • 5
    • Breakfast (+ dinners on request)
    • Over 8s preferred
    • Closed: 7 Dec 2016 - 31 Mar 2017
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Concierge Service
    • Bicycles Available
    • Local activities
    Room:

    Rooms

    There are 5 lovely Junior Suites, all with big shaded terraces where you find a couple of cushioned wicker armchairs and a small sofa. Three are at the front, 2 at the back; those at the front have slightly better views, those at the back are probably quieter at night, though all are pretty peaceful.

    Chic interiors are just the ticket - simple, stylish, spotless. You get whitewashed walls, white linen on smart beds (queensize or twin), perhaps a small table and chairs. We had the smallest room, which isn’t small at all, and loved it: pretty seascapes on the walls, smart fabrics, sandstone tiles, a tiny padded bench at the end of the bed. All rooms have shuttered windows with mosquito screens, so you can sleep with the windows open, but your privacy assured. Bathrooms are lovely, shining white, with power showers, big mirrors, deep sinks and lots of space to stash your stuff. No toiletries or robes though, so you'll need to bring your own.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Central heating
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Safe box
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • Tv
    • WiFi

    Eating

    Breakfast is served from 8.30-10.30am. You either eat on the pool terrace or in Ivania’s cool rustic dining room, where glass walls frame the view. It’s a help-yourself affair. You’ll find fruit salad, toast and focaccia, plates of ham, cheese and salami, those cakes Italians love so much, then jugs of juice. There are eggs if you want some, and fresh tea and coffee.

    Chef Luciana cooks dinner on request for 2+ people; perhaps Sardinian gnocchi or a plate of ham and mozzarella to start, pollo alla Milanese or grilled beef to follow, then tiramisu or a good fruit salad. Wine is included.

    Out and about you’ll find countless restaurants to choose from, though in high season (mid-July and August), you need to book at least a day ahead. Ivania recommends the seafront Blu and Gente di Mare in Golfo Aranci, or Lu Stazzu in Porto Rotondo (3km) for much-vaunted suckling pig.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Dinner by arrangement
    • Minibar/fridge
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Hang out by the pool. There are sun loungers and a waterfall from the pool drops into a Jacuzzi. There’s a hammock on the front lawn and in-room massages can be arranged

    • Head off to the beaches - lots are on your doorstep. Some are wild, others have small restaurants, and at several you can hire sunbeds and a parasol. We thought Spiaggia Bianca on the southern fringe of Golfo Aranci was rather cute

    • Spin up into the hills on Thursday mornings and check out the market at San Pantaleo. It draws a crowd and you can get a good pizza at lunch, too

    • Check out the local coastal towns. In Porto Rotondo stop at Gelateria del Molo on the harbour for one of its excellent ice creams and watch the big boats come and go

    • Saddle up at the stables across the road and head down to the beach for a canter. Also, there are mountain-bike trails in the hills behind you, while cooking courses, PADI courses, boats trips and scuba diving can all be arranged

    • Drive up to Palau and cruise the Maddalena archipelago - Ivania recommends Dea del Mare with Carlo and Monica. You stop at lovely beaches, astonishing rocks and can see Garibaldi’s house on Isola Caprera

    • Sardinia’s interior is gorgeous, easy to access and much ignored. You can hike to a couple of olive trees near Témpio that have been classified by Unesco as the oldest in Europe - 1 could be 6,000 years old

    • Explore the archaeological sites: check out the Giant’s Tomb at Li Lolghi or some of the many Nuragic settlements; La Prisgiona, which is well preserved, is close by

    • From Santa Teresa you can take the ferry over to Corsica for the day and explore Bonifacio, which stands magnificently on top of a cliff; it’s only 10 miles away

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Cooking classes
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Mountain biking
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Scuba diving
    • Scuba diving courses
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Well being

    Kids

    All ages are welcome but children over 8 are preferred as the swimming pool is not securely fenced and kids will require supervision. Please note that the hotel is primarily aimed at couples and honeymooners come here often so more than one family at a time is not encouraged.

    Cots are available and can fit in all rooms (free), as can an extra bed (small cost). You can use the kitchen to prepare food and bottles for babies. Remember, 3 dogs live here, too.

    Best for:

    Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Any; all rooms are big.

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    8/
    Food
    9/
    Service
    9/
    Value
    9/
    Overall

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