Bastia, France

A Casa Reale

Price per night from$238.46

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR234.83), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Upping the antiques

Setting

Bastion in Bastia

A Casa Reale is comprised of just four rooms, but it’s lived a life of epic proportions, starring Napoleon Bonaparte, the viceroy of the Anglo-Corsican kingdom, Gustave Flaubert, plus a cast of counts, marquisses, viscounts and a celebrated chef. This luxuriously lived-in bed and breakfast in Corsican port town Bastia, has stayed on the bright side of history for more than 300 years, and during the last five the owners have tirelessly re-dressed the past: restoring the stuccoes, ironwork and flooring; hunting down antiques from Baroque to Empire to mid-century modern; and bringing its stories to light. Blue-blooded as it is, it's a home, so you can comfortably keep company with its titled and talented past masters, and enjoy the same courtesies, with wine on tap, tailored service and a homemade breakfast spread for the ages.

Smith Extra

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A welcome drink each on arrival

Facilities

Photos A Casa Reale facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Just four rooms, each named after a different colour with a unique story to tell and decorated with vintage and period furnishings.

Check–Out

12 noon, but, subject to availability and 24 hours’ notice, guests can leave later. Earliest check-in, 12 noon.

Prices

Double rooms from £202.41 (€240), including tax at 2.2 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €0.50 per person per night on check-in.

More details

Rates include possibly one of the best breakfast spreads we’ve encountered, honesty-bar spirits and wines, charcuterie and canistrelli biscuits and items in your room’s mini fridge (water, a bottle of wine and local beers).

Also

More than 300 years of history are encapsulated in the Casa, during which it’s brushed up against momentous points of Corsica’s past. The De Battisti family built it in 1700 for a staggering 30,000 lira; in 1748, commander of Louis XV’s French expeditionary force the Marquis de Cursay moved in to build the first printing house on the island, printing Corsica’s first constitution; in 1764, the Count de Marbeuf took residence and became godfather to a burgeoning military star – a certain Napoleon Bonaparte – who stayed overnight here in 1778 before leaving his home island for the first time. In 1794, when the Anglo-Corsican kingdom was established, its viceroy Sir Gilbert Elliot made it a happy home where he and his wife threw military band recitals and dances on the terrace; and in the 19th century it became Hôtel de l'Europe, run by chef François Tellier, where the likes of Gustave Flaubert and Prosper Mérimée dined and the Duke of Orléans attended lavish balls.

At the hotel

Wisteria-bedecked sea-view terrace; elegant antique-filled living room with a beautiful Prussian grand piano dating back to 1904 (gifted to King Leopold of Belgium no less); library with rare and antique books; free WiFi. In rooms: TV, storage, fridge, air-conditioning, Isula Parfums bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Each of the – just four – rooms enriches the hotel’s story with portraits and antique pieces lending clues to esteemed former residents and momentous events. Say, the Blue Room, dedicated to Napoleon Bonaparte; his godfather the Count of Marbeuf resided here in the 18th-century, and on securing young Bonaparte a place in the Brienne military college, hosted him for the night before he left to pursue his storied ascent to emperor. Or the Grey Room, where Viceroy of the Anglo-Corsican kingdom Sir Gilbert Elliot has a portrait hanging over the bed. He moved in with his Lady wife in the late 18th century and held military-band concerts and dances on the terrace overlooking the sea. The Green Room in the attic might be the cosiest; but the sunniness and styling of the Yellow Room (which pays homage to Pasquale Paoli, a founding father of Corsica), with its unique glazed entranceway, and covetable mid-century pieces placed alongside hefty gilded mirrors and dainty chandeliers, which appeals to our lofty aspirations.

Packing tips

You might be pushing your luck with sandwich-board panniers or sky-high boat-pouf wigs, but there’s ample closet space and even the odd dressing room for storing and wrangling more frou-frou outfits.

Also

The steam baths of the 19th-century hotel may be gone, but spa spoiling (massages, facials and beauty treatments) can be taken in your room on request.

Children

The private-home feel is ideal for families, as long as your kids aren’t too rambunctious (watch out for toppled antiques). Each room fits an extra bed (the biggest are given to broods), there’s plenty of baby kit, and babysitting starts at €12 an hour.

Sustainability efforts

The hotel owners must be given props for their dedicated preservation efforts. The abandoned apartments were in disarray when they bought them and they’ve lovingly brought the past back to life over five years of hard work, dusting off 18th-century stuccoes, ironwork and cornices; sourcing Italian handmade tiles to match fragments of flooring; searching for stylishly idiosyncratic antiques and period-appropriate pieces in flea markets and on eBay; and hanging portraits to honour the many notable residents. They’ve done their homework too, scouting through local museums and weathered history books (which you can thumb through in the salon’s library) to uncover the stay’s storied past. Plus, to ensure the Casa’s bright future, they dutifully recycle and make their incredible breakfast spread from seasonal and locally sourced ingredients, including nuts from their own orchard and chicken eggs from their brood.

Food and Drink

Photos A Casa Reale food and drink

Top Table

If you can take your eyes off the groaning breakfast-dessert tower and saucy eggs-Benny skillets, then the leafy terrace with its rocking chairs and flash of sea blue is a blissful spot for starting the day. Otherwise get cosy by the kitchen's wood fire.

Dress Code

Amid the antiques, you might not look out of place here in breeches, epaulettes and pelisses, but even a simple robe would work equally well.

Hotel restaurant

In the 19th century, when the Casa was a luxury hotel where literary sorts such as Gustave Flaubert and Prosper Mérimée would lunch, and the Duke of Orléans would stop by for wooing and waltzing at the odd ball, it was owned by acclaimed chef François Tellier, whose dishes drew the elite. Nowadays, only breakfast is served, but culinary excellence remains high – the owner’s niece, Rose, upgrades the most important meal of the day to the status of virtually unmissable, giving special deference to the breakfast dessert. Eggs Benedict with pancetta; cheese platters; eggs from the owners’ chicken coop cooked any-way; rosy bowls of fresh-picked berries; house croissants; stacks of honey-drizzled American pancakes; crêpes plump with local Nucellina made in Venzolasca (similar to Nutella) or a homemade caramelised-hazelnut spread using nuts from the owners’ orchard; soft warm pistachio cookies; chocolate babkas; chestnut madeleines; sweetly stuffed frappes (Corsican beignets); caramelised brioches; canistrelli biscuits; yoghurts; fresh juices; and cooked-that-morning breads will set you up nicely for the day, or send you waddling back to bed for a food coma. Rose takes requests too, if you have dietary needs, want to mix up flavourings, or simply if you can’t get enough of something. And each day, plates of seasonally flavoured Corsican canestrelli biscuits are laid out in the salon to keep guests sweet, or you can slice up a charcuterie platter using the saucissons in the fridge.

Hotel bar

Sidle up to the salon’s bar cart to sample a few Corsican apéritifs (maybe mix up a Cap Mattei with aromatic wine Quinquina, citron, herbs and spices, muscat and vermentinu; or a sparkling Capo Spritz), or grab a chilled bottle of wine from the kitchen’s fridge, where you’ll also find a coffee machine to make espressos, macchiatos, mochachinos and more.

Last orders

There's a laidback attitude to breakfast timings here because it's a small guesthouse, although loosely timings are between 7am to 11am.

Room service

Live like the marquises, counts and viceroys who’ve called the casa home by having someone serve laden trays of treats to your room for breakfast in bed.

Location

Photos A Casa Reale location
Address
A Casa Reale
4 Rue Commandant Bonelli
Bastia
20200
France

A Casa Reale sits in sea-peeping position along Rue du Commandant Bonelli in picturesque long-lived port town Bastia on the east coast of Corsica’s upper echelon, the Haute-Corse.

Planes

Handily, Bastia has its own airport, which is just a 20-minute drive from the hotel, and has good direct connections across Europe and to Morocco (although guests from further afield will need to change). Rose will happily help you to arrange a taxi (usually around €45 one-way).

Trains

Corsica may be an island, but there is a small tangle of train routes. Bastia’s station is just a 10-minute walk from the casa; from there you can ride to fellow port town Calvi, or change for southern hotspots such as Ajaccio or Bonifacio.

Automobiles

Bastia itself is a stroll-by-the-sea kinda place, so you can pump the brakes on hiring a car if you don’t plan to go far. However, the Cap Corse (the island’s little pinky, pointing up to the Ligurian riviera) is best zoomed through, with its dramatic coastal roads, pinnacle villages and under-the-radar beaches. And, you can criss-cross the verdant interior to the cosmopolitan pockets of coast.

Other

Bastia is France’s second most important port town after Calais, so arriving by sea is fairly easy (if a touch tedious). Ferries run from Nice (in seven hours), Toulon (in eight hours), and Marseille (in 12 hours). Arriving from Italy is quicker, with just a four-hour crossing from Livorno, or a six-hour trip from Savona.

Worth getting out of bed for

Set on the Haut-Corse’s eastern coast, below the magical, maquis-greened Cap Corse peninsula and above the wild-boar-roamed Castagniccia sweet-chestnut ‘grove’ (covering more than 100 square kilometres of countryside), Bastia may be a small port city, but it’s a lively one – except during the strictly observed after-lunch siesta – with historic townhouses all the colours of a spice rack. The Casa is just steps from Old Port in the Terra Vecchia part of town (Terra Nova sits a little higher) and the fortified 14th-century Genoese Citadel after which the city’s named. To enjoy a picturesque promenade and stop by both, there’s the 450-metre Aldilonda footbridge which starts at Arinella beach, passes the lift up the cliffs to the fort, gives you an eyeful of Tuscan isles Elba and Capraia, and finishes among the hubbub of the harbour. It’s lovely to walk or cycle along; and in the morning you can watch the boats come in, by day you can pause in the port cafes, and often, come evening, cars are banned so live music, religious festivities and other events can take place. Other lingering locales include terraces in the citadel, botanic beauty the Romieu Garden overlooking the quays (especially romantic at sunset), and the Place Saint Nicolas, a sprawling esplanade with children’s rides, a bandstand for live concerts, statue of Napoleon (because, of Corse), and events throughout the year: flea markets on Sundays, a chocolate festival come October, and an ice rink in winter. The Saint Jean Baptiste church soars dramatically over the port with its two 70-metre bell towers, beyond the Sainte-Marie Cathedral’s elegant cream façade is a blaze of gold and spectacular frescoes, and the imposing hulk of the 15th-century Palais des Gouverneurs houses a charming museum about the city’s past. Need more embellishment? The Oratory of the Sainte-Croix brotherhood, the only Rococo-style religious building in France, throws everything it has at the decor. Arinella Beach has a strip of white sand, and further down, Marana has safe-for-swimming lagoons, sunbathing stretches and fascinating birdlife. Come weekends, farmers turn stalls into lush cornucopias at the market on ​​Place de l'Hôtel de Ville; gather a picnic and head out to hop across the Cap’s villages and beyond. Erbalunga (AKA the ‘nest of painters’) is a paradise for paint-splashers, Centuri is the leading lobster-fishing port in France, so a top lunching spot, Nonza, goes goth with its black-sand beach, and Patrimonio is a wellspring of fine wine. Back at the hotel, get acquainted with the stories behind the antiques: a huge cherub-topped mirror from the apartment of the 19th-century mayor of Bastia Antoine Piccioni (notably Gustave Eiffel's stepson); lavishly carved 18th- and 19th-century chests; Milanese lighting and Saint Ouen chandeliers...

Local restaurants

Hanging in the balance between France and Italy, and with its own culinary quirks, Corsica has a distinctive cuisine. Bastia has plenty of eateries where you can get to know and love it or try favourites from the motherland. Grazie Mille’s dishes may largely be simple, but it’s all in the execution: spaghetti in a Provençal sauce with a tricolore of brilliantly green pesto, stracciatella and tomatoes so fresh they glow like warning lights; a glossy black cuttlefish risotto; lasagna layered with chunks of lobster. Casting a wider net over the Med is Merenda Ghjulia, a Greek-Corsican eatery which cherry-picks favourites from both countries, with gyros, stifado, creamy pasta with candied gizzards and chanterelles, and duck breast with foie-gras ravioli. Along the Quai de Martyrs, La Maison de la Boutargue is well placed to showcase the wonders of the sea. A Corsican speciality is the potent bottarga (salted cured fish roe), but there are also seafood pastas more packed than a rock pool, oysters stuffed with leek fondue and mussels au gratin. For aim-to-impress date nights, Le Lion d’Or will be a roaring success with its decadent creative fare. Foie gras, beef tartare, tuna sashimi and candied onion ketchup come piled on an English muffin; salmon and prawn tartare bask on a bed of black rice swimming in Asiatic broth; and even the humble hot dog gets an upgrade with panko-crumbed fine Italian meat and seasonings, confit onions, garum ketchup and wasabi mayonnaise. And the market-fresh dishes and harbour views at Col Tempo have made it a hit locally; try the lime-marinated crabmeat pâté, cod in butter or order your catch directly from the fishermen.

Local cafés

If you want to watch Bastians go about their business, take a seat on the market-facing terrace at Le Bistrot du Marché, listen to local musicians play and take a light snack with a glass of wine, say a Buddha bowl, tartiflette or avo on toast.

Local bars

Drinking in Bastia is more casual café wines than cocktail-fuelled late ones. For something special, head out to Nonza along the Cap Corse for drinks on La Sassa’s clifftop deck, placed just-so for sea panoramas.

Reviews

Photos A Casa Reale reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this delightful den of antiquity in Bastia, said a mournful farewell to the owner’s nutella-stuffed babkas, and imparted their newfound knowledge of Corsica’s noted historic figures, a full account of their Corse-of-nature break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside beautifully restored bed and breakfast A Casa Reale in northern Corsica…

A Casa Reale is a history book in hotel form. The bed and breakfast in lively port town Bastia has caroused with counts, marquisses, viceroys and dukes, hobnobbed with the French literati (Gustave Flaubert, Prosper Mérimée, Joseph Multedo); and even hosted emperor-in-waiting Napoleon Bonaparte for one night before he left to start his military training (his godfather was in residence at the time). It’s borne witness to Corsica’s rollercoaster history, hosting some of the key players: the Marquis de Cursay, active in overthrowing the Genoese and printing the island’s first constitution; the Count of Marbeuf on the side of Genoese sovereignty; and Sir Gilbert Elliot, viceroy of the short-lived Anglo-Corsican kingdom. After becoming a luxury hotel it whirled through much of the 19th century like a swooning debutante on the arm of the Duke of Orléans at one of the many lavish balls he attended here. And this is where the hotel’s story might have been fin, were it not for the efforts of its new owner, who dedicated five years writing the Casa’s next chapter, flying to Italy with fragments of flooring tile for Italian artisans to reproduce, salvaging what they could, and building up a treasure trove of era-spanning finds (a grand piano once gifted to King Leopold of Belgium, Age of Empire waterfall chandeliers cascading from the five-metre-high ceilings, the Baroque and Rococo; and mid-century modern arc-ing floor lamps and bentwood seating. But its pedigree hasn’t bred pretentiousness – wander in, help yourself to a glass of wine from the fridge and a freshly baked canistrelli biscuit; settle into a worn-in velvet sofa or wicker chaise and thumb through the rare book collection; and don’t hold back at breakfast – a feast that surpasses any the Casa’s ancestors might have enjoyed, we’re sure. History is still in the making here, and there’s room for guests to write their own stories. 

Price per night from $238.46

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