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Best hotels on the Amalfi Coast for a glorious Italian holiday in 2023

Enjoy a taste of la dolce vita at these beautiful coastal retreats

Nicky Swallow
Friday 26 May 2023 12:37 BST
Find dazzling sea views from hotels cut into cliff faces on the Amalfi Coast
Find dazzling sea views from hotels cut into cliff faces on the Amalfi Coast (Nicky Swallow)

The legendary Costiera Amalfitana (Amalfi Coast) is one of the most famous stretches of coastline in the world, a series of soaring cliffs, deep gorges and tumbling whitewashed villages strung together by the SS 163 road. Blasted out of the sheer rock face, the Amalfi Coast Drive (‘the road of a thousand bends’) weaves and winds its narrow, thrilling way from Positano to Vietri sul Mare, slicing through olive and lemon groves, rising and falling above the shimmering sea.

The area was ‘discovered’ in the 1960s by the dolce vita jet set and soon became a magnet for the very rich and very glamorous. Today, it is one of the most popular holiday destinations in Italy, home to some of the country’s finest, most romantic – and most expensive – hotels.

The grandest hotels on the Amalfi Coast inhabit splendid old family villas, palazzos and ex-monasteries; others teeter on sheer clifftops, their lower floors seemingly plastered onto the plunging rockface. Then there are more-modest, quirky guest houses and B&Bs hidden away off the beaten track. Views are astonishing and awe-inspiring – if you don’t have one from your bedroom (they usually come with a price tag), there will probably be a terrace or two that will oblige.

Average prices are higher here than just about anywhere else in Italy, but there are bargains to be had, especially if you are prepared to stay away from the main towns and avoid July and August. Most hotels in the area are open from just before Easter until the end of October; visit during spring or autumn to avoid the worst of the crowds and to bag an elusive bargain.

Best spa hotel: Monastero Santa Rosa

Location: Conca dei Marini

A spectacular infinity pool teeters on the cliff top
A spectacular infinity pool teeters on the cliff top (Monastera Santa Rosa)

The 20 austere-yet-luxurious bedrooms of this immaculate hotel occupy the ex-monks’ cells of a vast, carefully restored 17th-century monastery set in fragrant terraced gardens on a rocky outcrop just outside the quiet village of Conca dei Marini. Alongside the pale Jerusalem marble floors and fine antiques, there’s a spectacular infinity pool, a Michelin-starred restaurant (think tagliolini with summer truffle and sea urchin) and a fabulous spa housed in a series of atmospheric vaulted rooms. The spa menu offers rituals, therapies and massages using Santa Maria Novella products – the ‘Nun’s Escape’ ritual, ‘Venus Caress’ facial and body brushing and buffing treatment are guaranteed to restore and rejuvenate.

Best boutique hotel: Borgo Santandrea

Location: Conca dei Marini

All the 45 rooms at Bordo Santandrea have sea views
All the 45 rooms at Bordo Santandrea have sea views (Borgo Santandrea)

While all the 45 rooms and suites at this ravishing newcomer have sea views, the best also come with private gardens, plunge pools and day beds hung with filmy white curtains. The entrance sits 100m above the sea from where seven floors spill down to a sandy beach and smart beachclub. Drawing inspiration from mid-century design, the cool, arched interiors are filled with the owner’s wonderful collection of original pieces from the likes of Gio Ponti and Hans Wegner, along with vintage touches and custom-made blue-and-white geometric tiles. At gourmet restaurant La Libreria, you can sample the chef’s gourmet take on the local cuisine, but we prefer more-relaxed Alici, with its open kitchen and wide, jasmine-scented terrace, where you feast on the likes of Amalfi lemon risotto and sizzling, deep-fried prawns and calamari.

Best family hotel: Belmond Hotel Caruso

Location: Ravello

(Belmond Hotel Caruso)

It may be one of the more expensive hotels in the area, but the Caruso is also one of the most family-friendly. Set in extensive grounds (hence lots of running-around space) with a vast infinity pool in a quiet corner of Ravello, the grand style of the main building (frescoes, antiques, chandeliers) may not seem very child-friendly, but younger guests are given special attention. For starters, there are plenty of connecting rooms while the larger suites can take extra beds, and under-12s stay free in their parents’ room. There are welcome packs with soft toys, colouring books and crayons, mini dressing gowns and slippers and kids’ menus in the spa and in the restaurants. Activities include pizza-making, pottery and music workshops. Still bored? Hop on the shuttle bus down to the hotel’s private beach for swimming and sandcastles.

Best luxury hotel: Il San Pietro di Positano

Location: Positano

Take a dip in the pool overlooking the sea or use the hotel’s private beach
Take a dip in the pool overlooking the sea or use the hotel’s private beach (Il San Pietro Positano)

Located just east of Positano and not visible from the road (unless you count the car park and a tiny chapel), the legendary San Pietro is all about discreet, old-style glamour. Yet it is essentially a family-run operation, and, in spite of the five-star bells and whistles, it’s not the least bit pompous. The setting – carved into the cliff face with a pathway that teeters down through terraced gardens to a beach, restaurant and tennis court (there’s also a lift) – is extraordinary. Guest rooms, done out in fresh, chic, Mediterranean style all have sea-facing terraces (some are vast), while luxurious touches include cashmere throws and movie-star bathrooms. Dinner on the uber-romantic terrace at Michelin-starred Zass is memorable, or you can opt for a fishy feast at beachside Carlino.

Best budget hotel: Hotel Parsifal

Location: Ravello

This former monastery offers 17 traditional and cosy bedrooms
This former monastery offers 17 traditional and cosy bedrooms (Hotel Parsifal)

Aristocratic Ravello sits on a mountain buttress, suspended above the coast and far removed from the traffic jams and sweaty hordes below. Originally a monastery with 13th-century roots (and open all year), the Parsifal lies a short but puff-inducing walk uphill from Piazza del Duomo, set among neat, flower-filled terraces with show-stopping views of the mountains with the sea far below. It’s an unpretentious, relaxed place offering warm, personal service and 17 bedrooms with traditional tiled floors and a mishmash of family antiques and modern pieces; it may be a little worn, but that’s part of the charm. There’s a bar and restaurant serving up simple local dishes, such as ravioli with a tart lemon sauce.

Best for foodies: Lo Scoglio

Location: Marina del Cantone

Fresh fish and seafood are menu highlights at Lo Scoglio
Fresh fish and seafood are menu highlights at Lo Scoglio (Lo Scoglio)

Having been run by the De Simone family since 1958, this famous beachside restaurant with rooms may list Bruce Springsteen and Steven Spielberg among its fans, but it has the soul of a family trattoria, serving up dishes brimming with the sunny, punchy flavours of the south. Fresh produce from the De Simone’s nearby farm plus fish and seafood straight off the boat go into favourites such as the signature spaghetti con zucchini and grilled catch of the day. You need to book well ahead to bag one of the bedrooms over the shop – they’ve recently been re-decorated in bright and breezy, blue-and-white seaside style, and all have terraces overlooking Marina del Cantone’s grey shingle beach. The icing on the cake? Two Michelin-starred restaurants within easy walking distance; beachfront Taverna del Capitano and Quattropassi just up the hill.

Best hotel for views: Marincanto

Location: Positano

Drinks, dinner and spectacular sea views are waiting at this Positano bolthole
Drinks, dinner and spectacular sea views are waiting at this Positano bolthole (Marincanto Hotel)

So many hotels, so many astonishing views; there is an embarrassment of choice in these parts. Clinging to the sheer cliff face on the outskirts of Positano, smart little four-star Marincanto has sightlines westwards along the rocky coast to Capri in the distance; in the foreground is the town with its cluster of pastel-hued houses tumbling down to the beach. Inside, it’s all classic Amalfi Coast style – cool, arched rooms in dazzling white with splashes of blue and turquoise. Most of the bedrooms are sea-facing and a couple have private terraces, but if you don’t manage to bag one of those, you can enjoy the terrific views over a Campari spritz and a plate of seafood carbonara at the Terrazza Celè restaurant. There’s an infinity pool halfway down the cliffside and a private beach at the bottom, too.

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