“The Amalfi coast's first real design hotel adds slick white décor, bold artwork and delicate cuisine to those famous sea views.”
But it's in no danger of being too cool for its own good. The 'casa' tag, like the unpartitioned balconies and sociable bar, encourage hospitality sans frontières among guests, oiled by first-name friendliness from youthful staff. Though the clientele is cosmopolitan, the buildings remain in the Cappiello family. Quite what Angelina, the late mater familias, would make of her new home, goodness only knows.
- Plunging 180º sea-views stretching from Capri to Salerno (though slightly marred by tatty buildings in front)
- Easy access to Positano (taxi boat or free shuttle bus) without the noise, congestion and cost of staying in town
- Intriguing art, designer furniture and stylish living spaces
- Unremittingly helpful service earns regular plaudits in the guest book
- Indoor pool and wellness centre for those rare cloudy days
- The first - and only - true design hotel on the Amalfi coast
- The blindingly white bedroom décor is not for everyone
- Soundproofing could be (and, we are told, will be) improved
- Some of the balconies are small
- Breakfast is a pricey extra
- The hotel's beach is just a small grey-pebble strip 15 minutes' steep walk below - though a lift takes you part way, and of course boats whisk you to better ones
Best time to go
Our top tips
Don't bother with the Grotta dello Smeraldo seacave - an overpriced, underwhelming chamber of blue-green water.
If you go shopping in Positano, be prepared for crazy prices and shoulder-to-shoulder jostling. Nice wares, though.”
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar (open daily)
- Children 12+ only
- Open all year
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Skippered speedboat
All is pure white inside the bedrooms and suites: the walls, the floor tiles, the deep armchair, the square stack of bedside shelves, the inviting down duvet and its plump pillows. The only relief comes in the chromes and greys of a plasma screen, 2 anglepoise lamps, a sinuous silver vase with pert narcissi, and an ice bucket which is busy keeping your bottle of house champagne cool. So keep your shades on and slip, with bottle and fruit basket, through translucent white curtains to a balcony where, suddenly, all is blue. An endlessly sparkling sea, disturbed only by tiny triangles of boat-wakes and distant fingers of mist-haloed rock, lies enclosed in the rugged embrace of the Sorrento peninsula and an overarching azure sky. The view hits you like a parachute jump; just don't drop the bottle.
Coming back down to earth, you may find the odd minor niggle in the room: when we visited, the multimedia TV (including WiFi service) was playing up, and the soundproofing left a bit to be desired. But the bed was irreproachable and the bathroom was both sensuous (smooth cream walls of composite marble) and functional (glass-walled tub with both overhead and handheld shower). Shiny chrome towel rails, retro-chic weighing scales and provençal body lotions from L'Occitane keep up the contemporary standards.
The rooms are divided into 2 buildings (which do communicate, but not obviously) and 9 categories of room. All have sea views (the best are from the Relaxing Rooms on the corners). The magnificent Junior Suite boasts a huge terrace, an indoor sitting area and, in the bathroom, a separate shower and tub, the latter basking in front of a sea-facing window.
There also 4 former fishermen's cottages, refurbished into the stylish self-catering Eaudesea Suite with kitchenette, terrace, bathroom with shower and a fun round bathtub under the exposed rock in the bedroom, as well as having access to all the hotel’s amenities. They are reached by a panoramic elevator followed by 200 steps(!), and are available from May to September.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Coffee tea making
- Dvd player
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Safe box
- Satellite tv
A groovy exterior lift, with coloured LEDs in its ceiling and rising views over the sea, whisks you up to the hotel's top-floor restaurant, appropriately dubbed Un Piano nel Cielo ('Storey in the Sky'). It's a sleek white room with two big windows over the sea, a terrace for summer dining and elegantly minimalist tables. You're greeted by a glass of house champagne, a smiling waitress and an obsequious maitre d who reminded us - we couldn't help it - of Blackadder.
The cuisine, though, is seriously impressive. There's a fantastic range of fresh seafood, including prawns with marinated artichokes and cream of broad beans, or marinated sea-bass with salad from their garden; among the mains you may find gallinella (gurnard) in caper, olive and tomato sauce, or squid filled with veg, clams and lemon sauce. In between (or instead) come pasta dishes such as lasagne with angler fish, artichokes and fennel, plus a selection of carne. Whatever you order you'll be presented with a stuzzichino (trio of amuse-bouches) to whet your appetite - maybe chicory steamed with pine nuts, or a hot cherry tomato which explodes in your mouth. Desserts include a ricotta tartlet with lemon and orange sauce, or a seductive tortino al cioccolato fondante. As you'd expect, it's all presented with an eye for beauty: contrasting colours, dainty sprigs of basil, angular white chinaware, and measured portions rather than the unfinishable mounds of mainstream trattorie. They also do a 5-course and a 7-course menu.
If you fancy eating out, there's La Gavitella fish restaurant on the beach below, the excellent La Brace in the centre of Vettica Maggiore (5 mins walk), and various seaside gems accessible by boat or car (try sociable Da Adolfo on Laurito beach, famous for its mozzarella grilled on lemon leaves; or, further afield, Lo Scoglio in Nerano, whose signature dish is spaghetti con zucchini).
Breakfast is an excellent buffet spread whose highlights are smoked tuna, ricotta meringues, orange and lemon marmalades, pistachio cake, apple strudel, lemon tart and - for the traditionalists - scrambled eggs with crispy bacon. But the biggest highlight is sitting outside on the terrace and watching the morning sun burn the mist off the lilac sea.
- Coffee tea making
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Whatever you do, don't miss a boat trip along the peninsula's rugged coast: the hotel has a 'Sea Gem' speedboat for up to 10 people and offers high-end excursions to Capri, Amalfi, even Naples; or, at Positano pier, you can book a day-trip exploring nearby sea-caves, waterfalls and rockstacks.
- Head into Positano - there's a free hourly minibus, or a water taxi from the pier below - for some shopping, sunbathing and celeb-spotting: its boutiques are ever so chic (if a little samey) and recommended for fashion, footwear, glass and ceramics, while its twin beaches are full of beautiful young things tanning on hired sunchairs, or dancing in open-air discos by night
- The active can hire a canoe to visit the cave-pocked coast either side of Positano, or the extravagant yachts moored in its bay (look out for Denzel Washington, Rod Stewart, Lenny Kravitz)
- If you have a car and good nerves, follow the breathtaking corniche road along the coast to Amalfi and back; detour to Ravello to see the astonishing gardens of the Villa Cimbrone, stop for lunch in the neglected piazza of Atrani (try Osteria da Luisella under the arches), walk down to the coves of Conca dei Marini for a swim, and pass on the overrated Grotta dello Smeraldo
- If you don't have a car, you can take a public ferry from Positano to Amalfi for the day, to enjoy its medieval duomo, its Cappuccin monastery (now a hotel), its creamy sfogliatelle pastries (Andrea Pansa makes the best), even a Michelin-starred lunch at La Caravella
- If you have boots and lots of energy, the Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods), which links Praiano with Positano via a stomach-churning path up in the clouds, is a must
- Other spectacular hikes include the ascent to the ridgetop chapel of Santa Maria del Castello, feasible - in clear conditions - as a 5-hour circuit from Positano
- If that's too strenuous, you can enjoy a massage or sauna in the hotel's wellness centre, join a Pilates class, go jogging or weight-training in its gym, or just chill by the pool (there's an indoor and an outdoor one)
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Boat trips
- Private guided tours
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
Children 12 and over are welcome, but to be honest it is really more of an adults' retreat: there are valuable works of art in the living rooms, the beach below the hotel is small and gravelly, and the general atmosphere is one of ambient cool.
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available