Le Sirenuse

Positano, Naples & Amalfi, Italy Book from

The prima donna of Positano is as classy and comfortable as ever, and still the only outstanding hotel in town
Positano is the most photogenic - and the most photographed - village in Italy. Its pastel facades soar up from sea-washed crags, which once tempted Odysseus with Siren songs, to summits swathed in mist and forest. Nowadays it tempts a different kind of traveller: rich and famous, young and beautiful, lovers of boutiques and bronzage and of each other, who lounge on its black-sand beaches and ply the coast in elegant yachts.

If you're part of that crowd, or enjoy being among them, there's only one place to stay: the Sirens' Palace. A lift glides down to the 4th floor to emerge on a sparkling sun terrace, with a strip of pool and white-clad loungers to your left, a glassed and vaulted dining conservatory to your right, and ahead a view past Santa Maria's majolica dome to an azure canvas pierced by the fabled Li Galli rockstacks. With 58 rooms, it's larger than it appears, but cleverly tiered across 2 ochre palazzi. Expect every comfort (huge Jacuzzis, Bose iPods), seamless service (poolside cocktails, superb spa), and a bill to match.


  • Superb position in the heart of town, 5 minutes from the beach. There really is nothing like it in Positano so if you can afford it, go for it!
  • Sumptuously appointed bedrooms, almost all with sea view and balcony
  • Elegant antique-filled drawing rooms (one a champagne bar) and flower-decked terraces
  • Wonderful spa with bio-sauna, Turkish bath and natural Aveda products
  • The La Sponda restaurant is Michelin starred and there's a fabulous champagne and oyster bar for added decadence


  • It's shockingly expensive (but that's half the point)
  • Avoid the Inner Courtyard rooms: no view, no balcony
  • You need to book several months ahead in summer
  • Poolside loungers - and the one lift - are at a premium when it's full

Best time to go

Summer is extremely busy - to the point that, in mid August, shops actually have to close because the surging crowds damage their displays. Come in spring (April-May) or autumn (mid Sept-Oct) if you possibly can. The weather then is perfect for gentle exploration, and swimming is quite feasible until early November (though in April it's chilly). In April and October, rates practically halve: worth a chance if you're on an (average) budget.

Our top tips

Bring your favourite dress/jacket for the evening passegiata, your slinkiest swimwear for the bustling beach, sandals or flip-flops for paddling (if you forget them, you can have them custom-made in town), sun protection and a good book for lazy afternoons on the terrace.

Great for...

  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Luxury Hotel
  • 58
  • Restaurant and bar
  • Not suitable for babies or very young children
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Jacuzzi
  • Boats


After the dim corridor, bedrooms come as a wonderful surprise: bright white walls with a scattering of rustic portraits, gleaming Vietri-patterned floor tiles, a few antique pieces of furniture (a wave-fronted dresser and small desk, both in polished walnut), and shuttered French windows to a private balcony which looks out over the pool to a sparkling sea. It's a great spot for a sundowner - you'll find the minibar disguised in a marbled cabinet. The only sound, by day, is from the harbour dredger which seems to have become a permanent fixture in Positano; at night, it's astonishingly quiet (with windows shut and air-conditioning on). The bed, thankfully, is not antique, but a broad kingsize with firm mattress and buoyant pillows.

The Sersale dynasty has not shied from new technology in their 18th-century family palazzo: you'll find a big TV with DVD (choose from 500 titles in the 'multimedia centre'), a Bosé iPod sound-dock and pay-as-you-go WiFi connectivity.

In the bathroom, clad in streaky grey marble and old-fashioned chrome taps, they have installed Jacuzzi tubs across the board. There are excellent bespoke toiletries and perfumes from Eau d'Italie (and, as a man, I'm not normally moved to such observations), which combine scents of bergamot, blackcurrant, incense and the ubiquitous lemon.

The majority of rooms are classified as Sea View, which deliver their promise to a T, and are the ones we'd recommend. Partial Sea View rooms are smaller and look straight onto the pool terrace - good for checking on kids, but less private and lacking those elevated views (generally the higher the room number, the better the view). Standard Rooms are as unexceptional as they claim - 'fine for babysitters', we were told. Inner Courtyard rooms lack both balcony and view. Junior Suites are larger than Sea Views, with their sofa and armchairs in a separate space. Superior Junior Suites get larger balconies (some big enough for a family to sit out); one has a picture window by the Jacuzzi tub, so you can gaze out to sea while you soak. There are some communicating suites, which can be arranged to offer spacious 1 or 2-Bedroom Suites.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Ipod dock
  • Jacuzzi
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


On the pool level is the gorgeous, Michelin-starred La Sponda restaurant, no doubt the family's winter limonaia judging from the arcade of sea-facing windows and the potted lemon trees, still heavy with fruit in April. With the addition of elegant leafed chandeliers and vivid bougainvillea fanning up the vaulted ceilings, it feels like a cross between a botanic garden and a Baroque church.

Either way, it's a splendid setting for a refined, candlelit dinner, with occasional live guitarists to complete (one hopes) the romantic ambiance. Cuisine is delicate but not snobbish: roasted sea-bass sits alongside a classic Neapolitan scorfano all'acqua pazza (literally 'scorpion in mad water'), which is a local rock fish in light tomato sauce. Rack of lamb comes with fennel and Amalfi-style ratatouille, while desserts include a sinful almond and chocolate cake. It's not cheap but it is unfailingly good, if the comments of our co-diners were anything to go by.

One of the best breakfast buffets we've seen is laid out here on blue-white ceramic bowls and silver-domed stands, with everything a hungry Odysseus could have dreamed of and more: piping hot eggs, bacon and sausage, succulent melons, kiwi, strawberries and pineapple, patterned roundels of cottage cheese, long strips of prosciutto crudo, tender slivers of salmon and all manner of pasticcerie, from mini pains au chocolat to maxi jam tarts. You'll find jugs of freshly squeezed orange and grapefruit juice, pineapple and carrot squashes, even a bottle of cava on ice. And it all tastes as good as it looks.

In high summer both breakfast and dinner move outside to the lemon-scented terrace, where there's also the fabulous Champagne and Oyster Bar. And of course there are plenty of other eateries in town, most of them offering Neapolitan-style seafood, pasta and pizzas at Positano-style prices. Reception staff will be glad to offer recommendations to suit your appetite and budget; a favourite is a meat-fest at one of the mountain taverns in the cliff-hanging village of Montepertuso (most offer transport to and from Positano).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service


  • Whatever you do, don't miss a boat trip along the peninsula's rugged coast: there are complimentary half-day excursions on the hotel's traditional wooden boat, taking in small coves, rockstacks and perhaps a sea-cave; or you can sign up for a full day of swimming, fishing and a barbecued seafood lunch.

  • The hotel also offers (at extra cost) sunset cruises by Riva speedboat to the sirens' island, with chilled champagne

  • Or hire a canoe and paddle out to the moored yachts for some marine celeb-spotting (Denzel Washington, Rod Stewart and Lenny Kravitz are all regular visitors)

  • From the pier, boats shuttle to the glitzy island of Capri, where you can explore the phosphorescent Grotta Azzurra before lunching at celebrated Da Luigi in the lee of the needle-like sea rocks of I Faraglioni

  • By day, check out the surprisingly chic boutiques for fashion, footwear, accessories and ceramics; Antonello Dellamura's shop near the main beach (you'll recognise it by the good-luck horns on the ceiling) sells fabulously psychadelic handbags, wraps and hats (his own design), while Il Capitano, just up the road from the hotel, sells wonderful glass lanterns, goblets and bowls

  • If you have a car and good nerves, follow the breath-taking 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 have boots and lots of energy, the stomach-churning Sentiero degli Dei (Path of the Gods) is a must: hire a guide or buy the Sunflower guidebook; or if you really fancy going it alone, then get the CAI 'Monti Lattari' map, take a bus to Vettica Maggiore near Praiano, ask for the path to Colle la Serra (500m climb), and there turn left onto the (signed) Sentiero, following it to Nocelle, from where you can get a bus back down to Positano

  • After such exertions, there's nothing better than a four-handed 'hydrotherm' massage on warm, water-filled cushions in the hotel's Aveda-branded spa; or, if you overdo the sunbathing, a full body masque with herbal steam and rehydrating cream

  • In bad weather, there's always the DVD library (500 of them to choose from, at no charge) and reading room - and the swimming pool is heated right through the season (March-Nov)

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Nightlife
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Well being
  • Kids

    Children over 6 are welcome year-round. NB under 6s are only accepted out of season (i.e. in March, April and October) by arrangement, though not by the pool or in the restaurant at dinner time. Cots and extra beds (both subject to a supplement) and baby-sitters can all be arranged. Extra beds are available in sea-view and junior suites only.

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Cots Available, Extra Beds Available


    Babysitting available by arrangement

    Baby equipment:

    Baby cots available on request

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Kid Friendly:

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