The Amalfi Coast is a destination many travellers place high on their bucket list and with the offering of exquisite azure sea views, cliff-perched coastal towns and villages, and fresh Mediterranean cuisine, it's easy to see why.
Planning a trip to the Italian hotspot may feel a little daunting given the choice of accommodation, but one spot you should definitely spend a night or two in is Amalfi itself.
While many tourists will day-trip to the historical town, you'll get a real feel of the place by staying there overnight and there's no better choice than the luxurious and exclusive Hotel Santa Caterina.
Hotel Santa Caterina has welcomed guests from Angelina Jolie to Kim Kardashian
The five-star property is the definition of old-world glamour and sophistication where its celebrity clientele reads like a roll call of A-listers. Kim Kardashian spent her honeymoon to Kris Humphries there, Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt enjoyed time away from the cameras in the early days of their romance, while Hillary Clinton and daughter Chelsea have also holidayed there. Looking further back, the hotel was also a favourite for Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton.
Located one and a half hours away from Naples airport, Hotel Santa Caterina is easily accessed using the hotel's shuttle service and it's a breathtaking drive along the Amalfi Coast, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guests immediately get a sense of la dolce vita as they step into the pristine lobby, which boasts a quaint veranda covered in blooms with views overlooking the Bay of Naples and the charming town of Amalfi.
The hotel is the definition of old-world glamour
The hotel itself is an oasis of calm, situated away from the hustle and bustle of Amalfi centre but easily accessible via foot – a 15-minute downhill walk – or the hotel's shuttle service. The exquisite 19th century venue has been family-owned for more than 100 years, which explains the personal and friendly service afforded to guests.
Much like the rest of the hotel, the rooms, which start from £460 per night, are traditional and the epitome of old-world glamour. We were treated to an ultra-luxurious suite that had gold furnishings and red satin curtains draped around the bed, a pink-tiled bathroom featuring a jacuzzi and mosaic, and a large private terrace complete with sun loungers. Guests can expect all the amenities and luxuries of a celebrity-approved hotel, like the Bulgari toiletries in the bathroom, the impeccable turndown service, and the welcome offering of delicious sweet treats in your room.
Bathroom amenities include Bulgari products
The hotel has two restaurants to try – the more laidback Restaurant Al Mare and the exceptional and more formal, Michelin-starred Glicine restaurant. Perfect for relaxed alfresco lunches and dinners, the Restaurant Al Mare is made up of an expansive terrace that sits above the hotel's private beach and pool area. A gentle breeze sweeps through the eatery as diners tuck into fresh seafood, pizzas, bruschette, and salads, all whilst enjoying the sparkling sea view.
The Glicine, on the other hand, is where you'll want to book for a more formal meal, such as a special occasion or your last night in the hotel. It's a truly outstanding restaurant and despite being the same place where you have your buffet breakfast – which is also exceptional – it's totally magical at night with its candlelit surroundings and the view of Amalfi's twinkling lights in the distance. Make sure to request a table on the panoramic terrace.
The beautiful and Michelin-starred Glicine restaurant
It's not surprising that the fine dining establishment, which is the hotel's flagship restaurant and is run by chef Giuseppe Stanzione, has been awarded a Michelin star three years in a row. It really was a highlight of our stay and a meal to write home about. The menu is focused on local recipes and Mediterranean flavours and makes the most of the ingredients the Amalfi Coast is best known for – lemons and seafood.
With this in mind, I indulged in the semolina rice-shaped pasta with king crab drizzled in olive oil and chilli pepper, followed by the Sfusato Amalfitano lemon with a mint sorbet for dessert. 'Sfusato' refers to the pointed or tapered end of the lemon and the Amalfi Coast is known for its oversized, tart lemons. It's almost impossible not to find them on the menu in some shape or form and add they a delicious tang to every dish.
The fine dining restaurant was a highlight of our stay
As well as the premium food offerings, guests can also enjoy a tipple at the hotel's two bars – La Terraza which is next to Glicine and serves up homemade lemon liquors, and Il Grottino which is adjacent to the pool and beach club area.
To access the beach club, it's a thrilling ride down the glass elevators which have been literally carved into the rock face. The swimming pool, which is open from April to October, is the perfect suntrap for guests who want to enjoy a dip in the seawater pool or relax on a lounger with a book in hand. There's also a small fitness area for those who want to keep up their exercise regime on holiday – albeit this gym comes with a stunning view of the bay of Naples.
The hotel looks out to the town of Amalfi
For some real R and R time, the wellness centre offers a range of face and body treatments which use essences of Mediterranean herbs and citrus fruits. Or you can treat yourself to a beauty session like a manicure and pedicure.
Hotel Santa Caterina has lured guests for years thanks to its friendly and attentive service, exclusive surroundings, premium facilities, and unbeatable restaurants. It truly delivers on la dolce vita experience and if you needed any more reason to visit, this summer the hotel is opening its new Villas della Marchesa. Accommodating 14 people, the villas have their own 36m outdoor pool, gardens, and private wine cellar, plus sea views from every room and suite. Sounds perfect for our next group booking.
Rooms at Hotel Santa Caterina start from €550 (£460) per night.