24-Hour Room Service: Hotel Vesuvio, Naples

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The Independent Travel

The Vesuvio was built in 1882 during a surge of urban renewal along Naples' sea-facing via Partenope.

The Vesuvio was built in 1882 during a surge of urban renewal along Naples' sea-facing via Partenope. Commissioned and funded by Oscar du Mesnil, a Belgian financier who thought it fitting to have a grand hotel in this up-and-coming district of the city, the hotel almost immediately attracted illustrious guests including Queen Victoria of Sweden and her doctor Axel Munthe, Guy de Maupassant and Oscar Wilde. The hotel didn't escape the devastation that the Second World War wrought on Naples and was badly damaged during Allied bombings. However, it was rebuilt after the war and was soon pulling in luminaries such as Rita Hayworth once more. Today, the hotel still drips with 1950s opulence; check out the elegant marble staircases, chandeliers and the antique furniture acquired by du Mesnil.

LOCATION

The Grand Hotel Vesuvio (00 39 081 764 0044; www.vesuvio.it), via Partenope 45, 80121 Naples, Italy.

The Vesuvio is on the seafront facing the Castel dell'Ovo and forms part of a triptych of three of Naples' grandest hotels on via Partenope (the Grand Hotel Santa Lucia and the Hotel Excelsior sit on either side). Sandwiched between the hotel and the Castel dell'Ovo is the chic little marina Borgo Marinaro, where yachties moor their boats during summer and sip wine in one of the quayside eateries. It is also on the boundary of Royal Naples and the smart Chaia district, where designer shops and the Villa Communale public gardens are found. The Caruso restaurant on the top floor has a balcony overlooking the bay.

Time from international airport: Neapolitan traffic is notorious, but miss the rush hour and you could be there in 20 minutes. A taxi costs anything from €20 (£14) to €40 (£29), so negotiate a price first. The hotel can also provide a Jaguar on request, which costs €86 (£61) one-way. The Alibus shuttle takes you from the airport to Piazza Municipio, around a 10-minute walk from the hotel, and costs €3 (£2) each way.

COMFORTABLE?

The 143 bedrooms have been recently refurbished and are sumptuously decorated with peach-hued Italian brocade "wallpaper" and heavy matching curtains. Linen sheets lend the finishing touch to the vast beds. The best rooms have balconies with spectacular views across the Bay of Naples out to Capri and Ischia. Marble bathrooms are of course de rigueur in such grand hotels and it seems fitting that the white Carrara marble used at the Vesuvio is the same material favoured by the likes of Michelangelo and Donatello for their sculptures. Huge mirrors cover nearly the whole of the bathroom wall and plush bathrobes are also provided.

Freebies: the bathrooms contain musk-scented toiletries, and a buttery night cream is placed on your pillow each evening with a pair of towelling slippers by your bedside. Italian newspapers are also provided for guests

Keeping in touch: all bedrooms have a satellite television, multimedia telephone and high-speed internet connection. The business centre features a PC, laser printer, fax, photocopier, scanner, DVD player, broadband line, a webcam and a video projector.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Rooms start at €400 (£285) per night, including a buffet breakfast, regardless of whether they have a sea view. Several suites are available, including the Presidential, where Bill Clinton resided during the G7 summit. This starts at €4,000 (£2,850) per night, including breakfast.

I'm Not Paying That

The Hotel Costantinopoli 104 (00 39 081 557 1035; www.costantinopoli104.it) in the Centro Storico is ideally located for a stroll round Naples' historic quarter on via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli. It is a small, stylish neo-Classical town-house hotel with a leafy courtyard garden and has doubles from €170 (£121) per night including breakfast.

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