Nestled on the side of a cliffside and overlooking the Amalfi Coast, the Santa Caterina Hotel is a five-star hotel that revels in history, beauty, simplicity and class.
JOURNEY THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS
Our flight from London to Napoli landed very early in the morning. On one of those flights, you get up so early that you don’t sleep but landing in the bustling Naples fills you with adrenaline as we began our journey to the coast. We travelled south through the long and winding mountainous roads overlooked by dormant volcanoes like Vesuvius and Ischia.
Hotel Santa Caterina is a 19th-century family-owned hotel that has grown and expanded in size and prestige over the years and through three generations.
In 1880, Giuseppe Gambardella built the original structure. Crescenzo Gambardella, his son, redesigned the property in 1904, creating the original six guestrooms. Two generations of Gambardella’s have improved the hotel, bringing the resort to its present 66 guestrooms and suites, beach club with pool, two restaurants including one with a Michelin star, a gym, lemon groves, a spa and ample natural beauty and views.
ROOMS WITH A VIEW
Our room was a Front Sea View Deluxe bedroom, and they don’t skimp with the sea views. Sprawling for as far as the eye can see, you can also see the town centre, greenery and other properties sitting on this cliffside seaside town from your private balcony.
With a marbled floor and a huge bed, you could easily spend a lot of time in the room alone. Not to mention a hot tub in the room with sea views. Bright lemon and green tiles decorate the bathroom with double-sided sinks and mirrors to aid domestic bliss.
Thirty-six Partial Sea View, Executive Partial Sea View, Front Sea View and Deluxe bedrooms, thirteen Junior Suites, Executive Junior Suites and Suites are located in the main building. The secluded Garden Suites are, as the name suggests, situated in the garden area of the hotel. An additional 17 accommodations between deluxe rooms, juniors suites and suites are located in the hotel’s Villa Santa Caterina and the recently acquired Villa Il Rosso.
THE DINING EXPERIENCES
The hotel has two restaurants, the Michelin-starred Glicine, and Al Mare, overlooking the swimming pool and the sea.
Headed by Chef Giuseppe Stanzione, Glicine is classic and elegant. As you walk in for dinner, you will typically find someone playing the piano with a selection of eclectic songs. I recall hearing The Girl From Ipanema to Ed Sheeran whilst we dined on a selection of chef choice menus that included delicious dishes like zucchini, mozzarella and parmesan tempura. For main course, a salted encrusted cod, excavated and deboned to reveal a light, fluffy fish. We ended with a sublime dessert that looked like a lemon but crumbled under the spoon to reveal a soft, sweet and tangy centre.
For breakfast in Glicine, grab a table at the far right by the windows as you will get the best views and most sun. Breakfast is a selection of cold and hot meats, cheese, bread, cakes and fruits. You can also order omelettes, Eggs Benedict and French toast with your coffee or fresh juices.
They are also opening a chef’s table overlooking the kitchen at Glicine, so you will have the opportunity to watch the maestro at work whilst enjoying the delicious food.
BEACH CLUB, SPA AND VILLAS
The Beach Club is a destination in its own right. You have to take a 1970s lift down to get there or brave the marathon of steps if you have the desire and need for your daily step count. It has a scenic bar, loungers, and a heated pool, so bring your best poolside attire.
Opening this summer and a few minutes walk from the main hotel is Villas Della Marchesa at Hotel Santa Caterina. A new 14 person villa is being built, with its own pool, indoor and outdoor dining areas, lift and ample rooms. It will be ideal for a group or family looking to book somewhere more private.
The new villas have panoramic views directly out to sea from every room and suite, own 36m outdoor pool and private wine cellar that will offer guests their own private sanctuary in the Amalfi lemon groves.
The Romeo and Juliet suite was one of my favourite villas available back at the main hotel. Beautiful views and your private pool make it one of the most desirable spots, but the balcony from which it gets its name is truly a lovely touch. They are also in the process of building a rooftop bar which may be ready when I visit next time.
The hotel also has a fantastic spa offering an array of treatments from back massages to facials. They use the luxurious Sothys products throughout the treatments, which only add to the pampering.
HISTORY AND LEMONS
Amalfi was once a major force in Italian shipping and the first maritime republic alongside Pisa, Genoa, and Venice, shipping goods and trading as far as Constantinople. However, extreme weather conditions destroyed the port and its trading capabilities over the years.
You may have noticed lemons have been mentioned a few times. This is because they are of significant and historical importance to the region. First grown because of the weather, they are easy to grow, don’t go bad and are medicinal, so they were used on ships. Today, a good martini becomes a great martini with a twist of Amalfi lemon. They are now exported globally and seen as a local specialty, with local producers setting the amounts and prices in a sort of lemon consortium.
If you’re looking to explore and find out about the local history, then the tour by Michaelangelo is highly recommended. Filled with facts and knowledge, he’ll take you around local attractions like the beautiful Cattedrale di Sant’Andrea and down secret sidewalks, hidden passages, the seafront and promenade, spilling the tea on all the local attractions and history.
Marisa Cuomo is a fantastic local wine producer with vineyards up in the Amalfi hills. We travelled halfway there by car and then had to get out and walk a little way as the roads were closed due to rock slides. On the other side, we were picked up and taken to the winery, where we had a tour of the production facility, seeing the bottling process. Afterwards, we enjoyed a wine tasting of their 2018 vintage which was exotic, rich and fruity.
In a nutshell
The Santa Caterina hotel and Amalfi Coast are a dream pairing with blue skies and verandas, sunshine, wine, elegance and sophistication. This is a dream setting where you can escape, relax and unwind. It’s also very easy to access other destinations like Sorrento, Ravello and Positano for any day trips, so it makes the picture-perfect location for a culturally enriching and relaxing luxuriate break.
To discover more, visit: hotelsantacaterina.it
All imagery courtesy of Hotel Santa Caterina.
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