The Amalfi Coast is a moving beauty, and situated in the middle of an extensive estate lies Hotel Santa Caterina which reflects the spirit of this place perfectly, as Sabi Phagura found out
Despite the front of this wonderfully elegant mansion being on a roadside, all is calm from the moment you step inside. And to top it off, there is a familiar warmth about the five-star Hotel Santa Caterina with its white interiors and splashes of Mediterranean bright colours – noticeably on patterned floor tiles. It may have something to do with the 19th-century mansion being in the same family for four generations.
The family first swung open its doors to guests in 1904. It’s no surprise then that repeat customers account for around 40 percent of their bookings not to mention its popularity with A-list celebrities. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt stayed here during their filming of Mr and Mrs Smith while songstress Shakira enjoyed the serenity of this place from her romantic private room embedded in the gardens.
There is a total of 67 rooms both in the main house as well as the standalone folly-suites in the grounds all of which have jaw-dropping views of the sea or gardens. Mine, like the others, was white and airy, yet individually styled, combining classic interior and antique hand painted majolica floor tiles with quintessentially Mediterranean architecture. The bathroom, which was brimming with Bulgari goodies, was spacious and had the luxury touch of a bath-turned-jacuzzi as well as a separate rain shower.
With the hotel stretching down to the sea on a series of naturally landscaped terraces, it made for a great meander around the gardens. One of the biggest surprises was the glass lift that lowered down the rock face to the pool, bar and beach restaurant area. I actually went up and down it several times just to admire the view!
When I was able to get my fill in the lift, the walks around the citrus groves were incredibly precious. I found myself walking in them daily during my stay – not least to awaken all my senses. The smell was uplifting, giving the air that refreshing fragrant feel which no air freshener could rival. Having picked one of the fruits during my many walks, I used it to spruce up my water daily. I couldn’t think of a better way to start it as I sipped the healthy concoction while looking out to sea from my balcony.
The health theme here continues in the form of a gym with the best coastal views ever. I would challenge anyone not to want to do a workout out here, even for a hill walk on the treadmill. Those who cannot be persuaded can relax in the hotel’s spa where they will be spoilt for choice with the long list of treatments. I was already relaxed at the hotel, but the back massage sent me to a different level of relaxation altogether. Trying to gather myself to function for the rest of the day seemed somewhat of a struggle – until that is when the next meal was about to be served.
If you like classic Italian food, the menu served here at both restaurants hits the spot. The open air Al Mare serves grilled fish, hand-made pasta, creative salads and traditional oven baked pizzas, while Restaurant Santa Caterina offers a more formal dining option. Here you can expect lavish dinners from lobster and fish parcels to steaks and veal, all accompanied with the freshest of ingredients you can imagine. The service I have to say was next to none. With some of the waiting staff having worked here for many years, you could always count on that warmth welcoming feeling with a touch of humour, thereby making meal times truly joyous and totally relaxed.
With the hotel situated just minutes from Amalfi centre, it’s worth taking a trip to this beautiful town. The city starts at the water’s edge with white houses clinging onto rocks opposite the Saint Andrew Cathedral and the main square. One of the more focal points is the Piazza del Duomo, just in front of the striking cathedral. The piazza is brimming with sidewalk cafes and elegant shops from where you can enjoy a spot of people watching. As Amalfi is made of alleys and steps, those wanting a vigorous workout can get one without even trying. In fact, lifts are banned in the area as it’s a UNESCO site, so locals are naturally fit.
All in all, Hotel Santa Caterina is a gem of the Amalfi Coast, and it is definitely worthy of serious consideration when staying in the area.
Hotel Santa Caterina – Where and How?
Hotel Santa Caterina is located at via SS Amalfitana, 9, Amalfi 84011, Italy. Prices start from £380 per room per night (B&B). For further information, or to make a reservation, visit www.hotelsantacaterina.it.
By Sabi Phagura