I spent two years in Italy and I never made it to the Amalfi coast. As beautiful and breath taking as it is my Italian friends told me I will always visit Amalfi in years to come – save it for when you have more money and don’t mind bumping into American tourists. A friend of mine was getting married in Cilento, two hours from the Amalfi coast and I made sure that I fitted in time to devour a pizza at the infamous Da Michele pizzeria in Naples and to explore the coastal gems of the Amalfi coast.
If you can brave the narrow serpentine road that tunnels through the mountains, you will be exposed to the most breathtaking views in Europe, with jewel like colours, terraced towns and villages and hillsides spilling with citrus groves and olives. This picture perfect stretch of quaint towns is home to some of Italy’s finest hotels – making it hard to choose where to stay.
Where to stay?
Cheap and Cheerful: Hotel Reginella in Positano
Positano is the region’s most vibrant town, with almost vertical streets adorned with peach, pink and terracotta house, fine dining restaurants and luxury boutiques. If Positano’s luxury hotel club of Le Sirenuse, Casa Buonocore, and Villa Tartana are out of budget, then head to Hotel Reginella a small 2 start boutique in the heart of Positano. A cute no frills guest house with all the basic amenities, offering great views and a perfect location in a quaint home like hotel.
Modern Luxury: Casa Angelina in Praiano
You go to Praiano to stay at this white gem, down to earth luxury boutique hotel and to take in the exceptional views of Positano. Casa Angelina is a refreshing addition to the Amalfi coast, offering minimalist, cool interiors with an emphasis on clean lines and brilliant white, with a few splashes of colour from the Cuban murano sculptures of Alfredo Sosabravo.
It is clear that Casa Angelina has though about every single detail. On entering you are offered cold almond milk (perfectly suited for this hip hotel). The stunningly crisp white rooms are kitted out with Fabel Castel stationary, Bang and Olufsen TV and Hifi, a Nespresso machine, Etro bed sheets, towels and robes, L’Occitaine bath products and Casa Angelina flip flops. On leaving the hotel you are gifted Casa Angelina’ very own extra virgin olive oil.
Casa Angelina is a destination in its own right, offering yoga and pilates to keep you in balance and creating the serene ambience away from the crowded streets of Positano to allow you to immerse yourself into “barefoot’ luxury. If you can pull yourself away from the outdoor dipping pool surrounded by breath taking views of the blue Mediterranean sea, take the lift down to La Gavitella Beach to plunge into the sea. Casa Angelina guests get access to a complimentary sunbed, towels and water. Avoid eating at this beach club as the food is expensive and unimpressive. Judging by the delicious breakfast spread at Casa Angelina I would dine in the hotel.
Traditional Charm: Hotel Santa Caterina
This Leading Hotel of the World, has been run by the Gambardella family since 1904, across four generations, making it one of the region’s oldest grand hotels. The 19th century building is surrounded by orange and lemon groves, centuries old gardens – full with bright pink bougainvillea, and offering sweeping views of the Bay of Salerno.
The 36 bedrooms all vary in style and décor; though the theme throughout is classic Italian. Our room though large was mint green from floor to ceiling; which was a little overpowering. The lush greenery and our terraced garden made up the choice in interiors.
Unique to Hotel Santa Caterina is its very own private and exclusive beach club, accessed by a lift that goes through the cliff. This tasteful beach club has its very own salt water pool, and large spread of sun beds, making it the perfect spot to swim in the calm waters of the Mediterranean sea.
Where to eat?
Breakfast at Casa e Bottega in Positano
In all my travels in Italy I have never come across a café that is in keeping with the Instagram trends of nutrient rich smoothie bowls. Casa e Bottega is the perfect spot to cleanse and nourish both your gut and your soul. This bright clean marine inspired shop-cum café has an extensive menu of nutritious treats perfect for a vegetarian and also offers a display of decadent not so healthy treats that you might end up working through as this place is hard to leave. Tanina, the owner has mixed design led home ware, which is for sale with fresh organic food ranging from gluten free cakes, fresh smoothies and juices to wholefood salads.
Lunch at Carlino at Il San Pietro di Positano
Walk down the spectacular pathway lined with scented flowers and stunning bougainvillea, with views of Positano to arrive and the most spectacular hotel in the Amalfi Coast. Il San Pietro di Positano, a Relais Chateaux family owned hotel, currently run by Mrs Virginia is otherworldly.
If I were to honeymoon in Amalfi this is where I would stay. Guests drink coffee on an outdoor terrace that resembles Gaudi’s Parc Guell in Barcelona. Inside is a huge open reception come living room. Mrs Virginia has created an indoor garden making one feel outside when there are in fact inside the tastefully designed hotel that oozes retro glamour.
Take the elevator, which is carved into the rock, which will take you straight down to the informal Carlino restaurant, perched on a platform above the sea. Here you will have perhaps the most romantic, peaceful and delicious lunch on the Amalfi Coast.
The spaghetti with Amalfi lemons and chilli is an absolute must, as is the mozzarella grilled on lemon leaves – refreshingly light and delicate which makes for the perfect choice as you sit and listen to the waves crash and absorb the smell of the sea under the covered terrace of this shabby chic restaurant. In front of you watch the glamorous hotel guests swim in the sea, to your side admire the terraced vegetable gardens on the cliffs and behind you watch guests work up a sweat as they play tennis.
Dinner at next2Positano in Positano
Next2Positano is a quaint restaurant with a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea; offering plenty of vegetarian classic yet innovative dishes. Try the zucchini blossom filled with ricotta cheese and zucchini parmigiana and the tagiatelle with artichokes, broad beans, peas, spring onions and truffle sauce. Perhaps one of the best pasta dishes I have ever had and I am not normally a fan of truffles.
After dinner drinks at Hotel Caruso in Ravello
This 11th century palace, set next to the Amalfi coast, operated by the Belmond Group is a charming work of art with its ancient walls and fresco cover ceilings. As you walk through the quaint cobbled streets of Ravello, you will be lured into Hotel Caruso by the elegant piano playing in the cocktail bar. Atmospherically lit and offering stunning views of the Amalfi coast, enjoy innovative cocktails (alcoholic and non alcoholic) as you get swept off your feet.