When I came across Bologna, Italy, I felt both incredulous and annoyed; incredulous because this beautiful city is not only known for being a historic gem in the Northern region but it is also considered the culinary capital of the whole of Italy!
Yes, Italy – the place where amazing pizza and pasta dishes and creamy gelato is the norm. Now, can you see why I was annoyed? How did I not know this before?! Anyway, after this discovery, a trip to explore this place (and eat all of its food) was much needed. To help us make the most of our stay, we booked an intriguing place called L’8Boutique Apartments which were located right in the heart of the city.
Driving 14 hours over two days from the center of Warsaw, we finally arrived in Bologna in the pitch black (it was only 6 pm but it was at the end of November so you can imagine). At the time, I didn’t realize how close we were to everything, so turning down the little side street where the apartments were, I didn’t think much more than “where are we going to park?” Stepping out of the car though, I was taken by surprise by what I saw.
Not only was the little side street quite removed from the main streets so it was nice and quiet, but the apartments were in quite a beautiful building. Although it was dark, I could make out the towering building covered in ivy and next to it, the quirky reception area.
If you didn’t know it was the reception, it looked like a haven for beautiful things from the outside, a place filled with random yet charming objects, artifacts and design furniture. I absolutely loved it. Stepping into it felt like you were entering Narnia, except one that was warm and with a smiling woman who was waiting to greet me.
The welcome was much appreciated, especially after such a long drive, and I was surprised by just how friendly and accommodating she was when she didn’t know what time we would be arriving as I had missed, and therefore not replied, to her email that morning.
That said a lot more to me about the level of service than I think anything else could. After a quick check-in and cheeky chocolate which she gave us, she then walked us up to our apartment, gave us a brief summary of how the facilities worked and where we could park before we bombarded her with questions for recommendations.
She was so prepared for this, giving us a list of the best places to eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, even the best places for gelato, pizza, and pasta! As well as this personal touch, she also showed us that they had put out a bed and a bowl for the dog and they had put together a complimentary breakfast of biscuits and Italian delicacies ready for the morning.
I really loved this welcome and personal service, it set the vibe of the apartments right from the start and made us feel very taken care of.
Our Apartment (807)
Situated on the third floor of the building, our apartment was considered a rooftop apartment which meant that we had a terrace! I knew this would be the case beforehand, but as we had a corner apartment, we actually had a terrace and a long, narrow balcony that offered views of the red-tiled rooftops and inner courtyard of the building.
This, I was not prepared for. It was pretty incredible that we could be in the center of the city, yet sitting on the terrace in the morning or evening reading a book, it was as quiet as if we were way out in the countryside.
For six nights we stayed in this apartment and it was perfect for what we wanted it for: to use it as a comfortable base to explore the city. A good size for 2 people and a dog, our apartment consisted of one bedroom with a double bed, smart TV, and terrace, a fully equipped kitchen, a sitting room with a private balcony and a bathroom complete with a toilet, rain shower, and bidet.
The whole place oozed a minimalist feel yet the decoration that it did have was a random mixture of history-meets-modern-design with its obvious African, imperial, and oriental influences. It sounds strange, but it worked so well. What I loved most about this place was the natural light that filled the rooms. Artificial light really hurts my eyes so I loved that we could use the whole place without the need for lights throughout the day.
What was even better though was the double curtains! You could choose between thin netting to offer privacy but still get the natural light or you could also draw the thick curtains over these and black out the room, perfect for a lie in!
The building itself was extremely secure; there were no keys just a code that you entered on the keypad for the front door, an inner door and then your apartment door. This was a feature that I really liked as I never carry a bag with me so a key with a massive keyring is really annoying.
As there was no elevator, we did have to take the six flights of stairs to the third floor which were quite steep. This really wasn’t an issue with us but it is worth noting for others to maybe ask for a ground floor apartment if you’d rather do without the daily climb.
The Other Apartments
There are 8 apartments in total at L’8Boutique Apartments (hence the 8 in the name) which accommodate up to 4 guests maximum in some of the rooms. Found on the ground floor, the second floor, and the third floor, apartments will either have a balcony or terrace or will overlook the inner courtyard or a quiet road.
Each apartment has its own unique style and decor each retaining features that reflect their past. You could end up with a 1920s apartment that still has the original flooring and funky floral wallpaper or a renovated apartment with a romantic feel complete with original 70’s Valentino tiles and chipped walls. Whatever apartment you end up with, you can be sure that your stay will be unique, comfortable, and an experience that will stay with you long after you leave Bologna.
You couldn’t get a better location than this while in Bologna, at least for me anyway. Situated halfway between the main station and Piazza Maggiore (the main square), nothing took more than 15 minutes to walk to. In fact, every time we walked outside and put somewhere to go or eat into maps, it seemed to be only 5-15 minutes away which was amazing!
From here, you could easily walk to the Two Towers, the Fountain of Neptune, the Jewish Ghetto, the Basilica of San Petronio, the Botanical Garden, Piazza Maggiore…to be honest, the vast majority of the city was walking distance. Full of porticoes and narrow streets full of tantalizing smells, we could wander without direction for hours.
As well as the city of Bologna, L’8Boutique Apartments was also an ideal base for exploring a lot of Italy. If you want to visit Parma, Emilia Romagna, Florence, Venice or Tuscany, you can easily make a day trip out of it. We even drove to San Marino for a day!
The Services & Amenities
L’8Boutique Apartments feels very much like your own flat as you don’t get any of the typical facilities and amenities that you expect from a hotel. I really liked this feature, as it made me feel at home away from home, but if you like more of the hotel-service feel, then they do have services that you can request:
- Breakfast (€6-15)
- Pocket lunch (€10-15)
- Cleaning and changing of linen (once per stay but you can request daily)
- Extra linen
- Possibility to organize private events within your apartment
- Possibility to organize a private chef to make you dinner in your apartment
- Possibility to organize a private physiotherapist or masseur
- Possibility to order gourmet tours, pasta cooking classes or walking/cycling tours
- Children and pets welcome
- Discounted bike rental
Amenities included in the flat:
- Bathroom kit and towels
- Nespresso machine
- A smart TV with the use of their Netflix account
- Safe deposit box
- Air conditioning
Our overall experience at L’8Boutique Apartments
Overall, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay at L’8Boutique Apartments and it really made our week in Bologna. The apartment was pretty incredible and although it was small, it was cozy and we were surprised by how at home we felt here; it was the kind of place that we felt we could live in and if it wasn’t for the limited time we had in Bologna, we would have spent more time just in the actual apartment itself.
Perfect as a base for exploration but also somewhere you can read on the balcony or binge on Netflix when the evening rolls around, L’8Boutique Apartments ticked all of our boxes. I really loved the uniqueness of these apartments, how their renovation didn’t hide the signs of the time that has passed and I can’t recommend them highly enough!
For more information on L’8Boutique Apartments, you can check out:
Looking for the best articles on Italy? Take a look at our best ones:
- Italy Travel Tips
- Top 7 Outdoor Adventures in Italy
- Italy Bucket List: Guide on the Best Things to Do