Located below the southern slopes of Gorizia Castle, the Grand Hotel Entourage is the restructured 16th century villa of the Strassoldo family, a palazzo with a long and unique history. In the 1830s Charles X of Bourbon, King of France, chose the Palazzo Strassoldo as the new residence of the Royal Court. Their presence in the city contributed greatly to the cultural and social activities of Gorizia. Over the centuries, the mansion underwent various changes with the times, but never lost its air of nobility.
During its most recent renovation, which lasted a decade, careful attention was paid to the safeguarding of the architectural and artistic heritage of this famous palazzo and the present owners are justifiably proud of their achievements – not only for the successful conservation of this historical building but also in the realm of the first-class hospitality they offer. Grand Hotel Entourage has eight suites and thirty rooms and opened in 2004. Each room has been named after one of the royal French entourage who once lived here and it is not an exaggeration to say that guests are treated royally two centuries later.
The interior courtyard is graced with the "Count’s Rose Garden"; the roses were imported from France and lovingly tended by the King’s nephew, Henry. It is a serene cortile, flanked on the right by a small cloistered convent of Poor Clares, six nuns who sing each morning at 6:30 before Mass is celebrated in the small chapel. I had intended to rise early the first morning of our visit to hear them sing. Alas, the comfort and quiet of my room caused me to sleep in. On the second morning, with the best of intentions, I tried again to attend Mass. I rose, dressed and crossed the courtyard to the chapel. I listened to their angelic voices for ten minutes but the devil won out – the devil being the Grand Hotel Entourage and the most comfortable bed I have ever slept in. I discreetly left the church and shamelessly went back to bed. The interior décor of Hotel Entourage is elegant and soothing to the senses – soft lighting and tinted walls, well-appointed rooms, fine drapery and plush bath and bed linens. Is it any wonder I didn’t want to leave the sanctuary of my own room?
But the hotel has other temptations. Namely, its cozy wine cellar named “Il Vinattiere di Chambord.” In a relaxed and warmly rustic atmosphere, we allowed Ennio, the sommelier, to select the wines we enjoyed with a simply satisfying supper, a tasting menu that began with a sformata di zucca, a pumpkin soufflé blanketed in a cream of melted Montasio cheese with a hint of truffle oil. The bocconcini of veal in a local red wine simply melted in your mouth. For finer dining and banquets, there is the very atmospheric Bearnaise Restaurant, located on the ground floor in vaulted rooms, the oldest part of the structure, dating back to 1481. It’s hard to imagine that these rooms once served as the stables.
All images and reviews copyright 2015 by Ginda Simpson