24-Hour Room Service: Caesar Augustus Capri, Italy

The Caesar Augustus is not, however, a pretentious bolthole. The two-tiered pool that seems to tumble into the sea might be a glossy ad campaign's dream location, but the hotel is elegant rather than flashy.

A grand, mustard-coloured villa with cheery yellow-and-white striped canopies, it's surrounded by fragrant gardens stocked with olive trees and oleander bushes. Those who want all-out luxury in a sea of cream totter in their Manolos up the hill to the Capri Palace Hotel; those who prefer old-fashioned exclusivity in the thick of the action check into the Quisisana in Capri town. The Caesar Augustus, however, has the views. And the history.

The hotel started out as the Villa Bitter in the mid-19th century and was bought by the Russian prince Emmanuel Bullak in the early 1900s. It was he who commissioned the statue of Caesar Augustus that gazes down on the port from the terrace. In the 1930s, when the whiff of war reached him, Bullak sold it to the Signorini family from Naples and moved to England. The Signorinis, who still own the Caesar Augustus, transformed it into the hotel you see today - a gracious retreat with old-world charm.

LOCATION

The Caesar Augustus, 4 via Giuseppe Orlandi, 80071 Anacapri, Capri, Italy (00 39 081 837 1444; www.caesar-augustus.com) is perched on the clifftop with views over the Bay of Naples to Sorrento and Ischia. It's a peaceful haven away from the daytripper madness of Capri town.

Time to international airport: It's a 3km or 10-minute drive snaking down to the port and then a 40-minute hydrofoil crossing to Naples. Capodichino airport is 15km from the port, about 20 minutes away.

COMFORTABLE?

If you suffer from vertigo, choose your room carefully. Many have balconies jutting out over the cliff. We were in room 405, a junior suite with a huge terrace looking out over the wild tangle of gardens to the sea. The rooms are individually designed but all are decorated in fresh white and green with terracotta-tiled floors and a scattering of antiques. Ours had a wrought-iron bedstead and Jacuzzi. The Caesar suite is the hotel's grandest, but the Tiberius with its corner terrace looking down over the port is the most charming.

Freebies: A bowl of fruit and tea-scented toiletries.

Keeping in touch: Direct-dial phones and satellite TV.

THE BOTTOM LINE

Double rooms cost from €320 (£228) for a garden view and €400 (£286) for a sea view, including breakfast. Scott Dunn (020-8682 5080; www.scottdunn.com) offers four nights in a Deluxe Sea View room, including British Airways flights to Naples, from £790 per person.

I'm not paying that: The Villa Eva (00 39 081 837 2040; www.villaeva.com) has doubles from €90 (£60).

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