When In Sorrento
Where? Grand Hotel Cocumella
Why? Set slightly further back from the crowds by the busy portside, this charming property was built in the 16th Century as a Jesuit monastery in the middle of a century park and has remained a hotel since 1822. Overlooking the Gulf of Naples and tucked amongst beautiful leafy lemon and orange groves and well kept gardens, it was also where distinguished travellers such as Hans Christian Anderson, Johann Wolgang Goethe and the Duke of Wellington all stayed and signed the guest book that visitors still can jot in today. Now, we think that’s pretty neat.
A gigantic grey stone water-well sits neatly in the centre of the hotel’s architecturally stunning room, called Chiostro. This stunning focal feature piece adds a real sense of history to the magical space, which has since become a highly desirable wedding venue (there’s even a private chapel found within the grounds for hosting concerts). Deluxe guest rooms and sumptuous suites feature ornate Italian designs and antiques. The blissfully relaxing beds will be sure to send you off to enjoy a good night’s sleep after indulging in pizza, pasta, gelato and all other dishes deliciously Italian.
Make sure to dine out on the terrace at the hotel’s Scintilla restaurant, where a marvellous spread is served up for breakfast (including deliciously light flaky pastries) and a varied gourmet meal for dinner (think rustic, authentic plates with a modern twist) eagerly awaits. There’s also an Olympic-sized outdoor swimming pool, spa, tennis court and state of the art fitness centre.
For those of you who don’t turn up with your own, the hotel has its privately owned tall ship, named Vera, which guests can use to explore the unspoiled coastline and neighbouring islands, as well as hire for private charter.
Although it boasts a peaceful position, Grand Hotel Cocumella is just a short 15-minute stroll back into the heart of Sorrento and makes for a wonderful summer’s evening walk.
Where else? Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria
Why? Graced by iconic beauties such as Sophia Loren and Marilyn Monroe, as well as various politicians and other famous faces, Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is a definite ‘must-go-to’ destination when in Sorrento – whether you’re planning to stay, dine, or simply sip on a sundowner.
The hotel makes a welcome respite, as it’s set slightly away from the swarms of tourists who are soaking up the action in and around Sorrento’s main square. In amongst the buzz, two large black iron gates gracefully lead you along a central pathway with the chance to admire the flourishing flora and fauna found around the property’s perfectly manicured Mediterranean gardens. As you enter through the foyer and past the front desk, an outdoor terrace and bar, called Bar Vittoria, gives guests the opportunity to drink or dine whilst catching breath-taking views of the bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius.
We spent our time down at the deluxe poolside area for the day with a butler-style service to tend to every need whilst lazing on our sun loungers and an exemplary lunch at the L’Orangerie, which serves up fresh grilled items, classic favourites such as gourmet burgers and authentic pizzas from their wood-fire oven and light yet scrummy salads. The sizeable swimming pool itself features a whirlpool hydro-massage and gives you a feeling of exclusivity and serenity that is second to none.
The hotel also has a fully equipped gym, indoor whirlpool and day spa and each luxury guest room and lavish suite is tastefully dressed and furnished. Some rooms are classic in style and others are more modern, so check which suits you before making a reservation.
When in Ischia
Where? Mezzatorre Resort & Spa
Why? The stunning island of Ischia offers not only a more laid-back, tranquil and modest environment to soak up the Med sunshine compared to the ‘look at me’ buzz of the nearby island of Capri, it also boasts therapeutic thermal waters. Mezzatorre Resort & Spa is the ideal backdrop to test out the thermal waters for yourself, with its indoor water track and also found at the hotel’s modern spa, an extensive list of therapies from local mud masks for face and body to ritual-based massages. We highly recommend booking in for a treatment purely just to check out the treatment rooms, which are completely washed out in white with twinkling mood lights to create a zen-like mood.
Set in a secluded area high up on the seafront, the views here are also dramatically idyllic. The outdoor pool is pleasantly heated with sea water and from this incredibly relaxing lounge and swim area, you can also plunge into the cool, pristine clean sea set just a number of footsteps down below. At lunchtime, walk over to try the splendid buffet salad selection and freshly grilled fish served at the hotel’s restaurant, Sciue Sciue, which in Italian slang means ‘good and fast’. Well, it’s so good that they’ve named it twice and we really don’t fault them for it.