Fitting name, we must say, as chances are you’ll be too beguiled to leave. This one’s in Positano proper — she of the charming pastel façades and even-more-charming staircases — and still operated, centuries strong, by a noble Neapolitan family. The authenticity here nearly bowls you over: a vine-bedecked restaurant with Positano’s best seafood, terra-cotta vases, and plaster archways positioned perfectly to channel the Mediterranean sun.
Go ahead and take a minute to gawk at the inspirational-poster visuals. All set? Good, because the details only make it better. For example: you enter at the top of the hotel via a 17th-century chapel (why not?), with every room below on its own level with its own private terrace. Or: the hotel’s private beach and cocktail bar at sea level.
For a change of pace, this north-shore fixture embraces contemporary design fully: clean lines, floor-to-ceiling modern windows, hardwood flooring, and a vivid primary palette in the furnishings. Of course, the old charms await right outside. You can’t really improve upon a Vesuvius view from the plunge pool.
Similarly, Relais Blu plies clean and geometric minimalism in a transplanted context, a striking statement right on the tip of the peninsula. That makes for enviable views, firstly, but also for honeymoon-worthy privacy among the innumerable private beaches and coves in the area. While you’re at it, try a couples’ cooking lesson — or just try the finished cuisine on the bay-view terrace. New frontiers in every respect, it seems.
Funny how many enterprising hoteliers have gotten into the “converted” convent game — but it’s a natural transition from one tranquil lodging to another. This 12th-century edifice still has plenty to recommend it after the renovations; subtle Arabic architectural cues and a pinch-me infinity pool, for starters. Japanese-Mediterranean fusion with a view doesn’t sound like much of a hardship either.
An honest-to-goodness original for almost a century, Hotel Santa Caterina in many ways set the region’s stratospheric standards: elevator to the private beach, terraces, shady groves, and quintessential tile-and-pillar décor all combine to signify this as a classic of the genre. Critically, the impression of a private residence remains in full and untarnished effect, an aspect that a brand new hotel would find impossible to imitate.
Grand, indeed. These three 19th-century villas played host to the likes of Wagner, Goethe, Caruso once upon a time, and if we peer even further back, Emperor Augustus himself. The real deal, in other words: period antiques and ceiling frescoes in the rooms, full-bore opulence in the traditional dining room, and a seat-of-honor location right in the heart of Sorrento.
A quick hop west brings you to the idyllic island of Capri, where some guy named Le Corbusier apparently designed a cliffside villa as “a kind of architectural bloom.” And bloom it does, fruitfully, equal parts luminous mid-century Modernism and languorously island-speed hideaway. They hardly put on airs, we mean to say, wisely opting instead to focus on wellness and fine dining while the seascape and sunlight do the heavy lifting.
Yes, it’s named for the Roman Emperor, whose impeccable judgment designated this paradisiacal plot for his villa in antiquity. The design has much more to do with mod-Mediterranean aplomb than imperial Rome these days, though chances are your gaze will fall on the villa-dotted hills and glittering waters below. Rest up during the day, though, because nightlife at the rooftop mojito bar and the Cuban-inflected Jacky doesn’t fool around.
One last mainland mainstay and we’re done, this time a contemporary take on the cliff-and-terrace formula. Dazzling white-on-white interiors contrast starkly with the sea’s supernatural blues and greens, never far from the eye, and anyway they understand perfectly that the out of doors wins the battle around these parts. But relax: everybody wins on the restaurant’s rooftop terrace. Make it a bottle and toast the coast.