“The Amalfi coast's first real design hotel adds slick white décor, bold artwork and delicate cuisine to those famous sea views.”
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.
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.
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.
Extra Beds Available