Cala di Volpe hotel review: Live like royalty on Sardinia’s Costa Smeralda

If the Costa Smeralda is the icing on the cake that is Sardinia, Hotel Cala di Volpe is the cherry on top

Rachel Hosie
Tuesday 30 May 2017 09:38 BST
Cala di Volpe boasts celebrity cachet
Cala di Volpe boasts celebrity cachet (Cala di Volpe)

In a nutshell: An iconic hotel that’s played host to stars such as Beyoncé and Jay Z, Princess Diana and Dodi al Fayed, Elton John, Grace Kelly and Robbie Williams, Cala di Volpe on Sardinia’s exclusive Costa Smeralda is perhaps best known as one of the locations where Roger Moore was filmed as James Bond in The Spy Who Loved Me.

The neighbourhood

Located on the Costa Smeralda on the northern coast of Sardinia, Cala di Volpe is just a half-hour drive from Olbia airport, a two-and-a-half-hour flight from London Gatwick. The hotel provides a free deluxe minivan shuttle service to ferry guests to and from the airport.

Costa Smeralda translates as the Emerald Coast, named for the distinctive deep green colour of the sea along this 55km stretch of coastline. I can confirm it lives up to the name – the water manages to be both clear and an eye-catching shade of jade simultaneously, striking a stark contrast with the pale blue of the cloudless sky.

Cala di Volpe (or Bay of Foxes) feels completely secluded. It’s set next to a quiet bay so still it feels like a lake, with a tucked-away stretch of sand accessible by the speed boat shuttle that comes every half hour. I was happy to relax and enjoy the surroundings but, for those who fancy venturing further afield, there are plenty of other beaches and coves to explore in the area.

Cala di Volpe has views over a quiet bay
Cala di Volpe has views over a quiet bay (Cala di Volpe)

The vibe

Despite the all-star status, luxury is discreet here. Built in the style of an ancient Italian fishing village, you’d be forgiven for thinking Cala di Volpe is centuries old. With its terracotta-tiled roofs and ombré walls painted in pastel shades of pink, orange and yellow, its rustic style harks back to a simpler time – but, in fact, it only opened in 1962.

It may be understated, but this is still an exclusive hotel; I relish the decadence of hopping aboard the private five-minute shuttle boat, complimentary for hotel guests, that whisks me to a secluded beach around the corner. It’s nice to get the celebrity treatment once in a while, even when you’re not Beyoncé.

Bed and bath

Rustic whimsy meets all-out luxury at Cala di Volpe – I find the simple white sheets of my king-sized bed graced with a Lindt chocolate after turn down, the colourfully tiled bathroom is stocked with premium Acqua Di Parma toiletries, and the roughly hewn white stucco walls are adorned with a large flat-screen television in addition to the more traditional Sardinian arts and crafts.

Cala di Volpe's bedroom are charmingly rustic
Cala di Volpe's bedroom are charmingly rustic (Cala di Volpe)

There’s high-speed wifi, a business centre and even sockets on the balconies for those who’d prefer to work with a view of the turquoise bay and surrounding verdant greenery.

Ranging from singles to doubles to suites, the hotel’s 121 rooms are gratifyingly spacious – particularly the one three-bedroom presidential suite, complete with private rooftop and swimming pool. Not that I’m staying there. After all, I’m not really Queen Bey.

Food and drink

I’m tempted to make use of the work-out facilities after being plied with cuttle-fish ink spaghetti and Sardinian roasted pork, both exceptional, at the hotel’s main restaurant. Breakfast is served here too – I indulged in traditional Sardinian cakes, freshly baked bread and mozzarella, with a side of exquisite views of the private harbour. There’s another eatery on site, too – the more informal outdoor Barbecue Restaurant, offering a colourful Mediterranean buffet and a more dressed-down feel.

Cala di Volpe's restaurant serves up Sardinian pork and seafood pasta
Cala di Volpe's restaurant serves up Sardinian pork and seafood pasta (Cala di Volpe)

This is a place where people come to see and be seen, and everything is Instagram-worthy – including the signature bellinis, made with fresh white peaches and best enjoyed on the hotel terrace as the sun sets. Cala di Volpe isn’t short of spots at which to savour a drink. There are four bars to choose from, including the trendy Atrium bar, which serves up cocktails complemented by views across the bay.

Public areas

There’s a selection of designer shops on the hotel’s ground floor, which gives you an idea of the type of clientele Cala di Volpe attracts. About a third of the guests are well-heeled Italians, and moneyed Americans, and Brits flock here, too, to soak up the sun. The hotel also boasts a huge saltwater pool, plus an indoor and outdoor gym.

Nuts and bolts

Room count: 121.

Freebies: Shuttle services

Wifi: Free

Extra charges: N/A

Disability access: The hotel has accessible rooms

Pet policy: No pets allowed

Instagram from: The terrace

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