Travel // Hotel Santa Caterina & Amalfi, Italy

September 22, 2018

The final instalment of our trip around Italy earlier this September, and probably the most magical part of the trip as we were spending our last two nights at Hotel Santa Caterina near Amalfi, almost an institution and definitely one of our all time favourite hotels, ever! It was such an incredibly special place and I'd love to share our last couple of days in Italy and our stay below if you'd like to see.

From Positano, we were driven around the coast to Hotel Santa Caterina towards Amalfi, a winding, dramatic coastal road with jaw-dropping views the whole way. We'd been waiting for this hotel for almost a year, in fact it's what kind of kick started planning this trip in the first place when I got a press release sent through and an offer to stay here in exchange for reviewing it {for both this blog & a honeymoon feature on SYGM}. And it was the best excuse for a return trip to the Amalfi Coast. 

Set just around the bay from Amalfi, Hotel Santa Caterina lies in the heart of the Amalfi Coast, just south of Naples. From Naples airport it’s around a 90 minute drive, or of course you could arrive by boat – perhaps combining with nearby Capri or Positano like we did. Since 1904, this hotel has become an institution and is a member of the Leading Hotels of the World group – a very worthy, yet high accolade indeed. This resort {for it has so many different areas}, is built into the cliffs, as is most of the Amalfi Coast and this means incredible views of the coastline from pretty much every spot in the hotel {even the Gym impressively looks over Amalfi & the boats below!}. We arrived to service like no other. All of the staff here greet you professionally, yet also like old friends, taking us straight down to our room.

In fact, we were staying in a junior suite! Which definitely made me squeal out loud with excitement at seeing it, and the incredible balcony for unforgettable views.

With a huge four poster bed, hand painted tiles {you all know how much of a thing I have with tiles by now, right?!}, a large living space and classically Italian bathroom, we were in heaven. 

Even the bathtub had a view. I mean {!!!}

I stepped out onto our balcony and just wowed at this view of Amalfi. The Australian lady next door, who was just leaving after spending a week here, just smiled and told me that I’d likely take 1000 photos of the view and recommended that we get up for a sunrise one morning, pointing to the cliff where it would rise up from. It was the perfect spot for boat watching, it being like a highway for ferries travelling to Positano, little fishing boats, luxury speed boats and posh yachts. We joked that it was like rush hour at times.

To give you an idea of the level of service here, we took a delivery from the bell man of fruit and cookies as a welcome gesture. But this isn’t just a place where you’re delivered fruit, you get a man in a white suit hand deliver it and unfold out a white pretty napkin, placing the fruit just the right way at an angle and then unfolding napkins to set the cutlery onto.

Our suite was to the right of the hotel, reached through covered pergolas with glimpses out to sea, in a separate villa. During our whole stay we exchanged looks with each other as if to say ‘can you really believe this place?!’.

One of our very favourite things about this resort, for which I could list so many, was the beach club. To reach it from the hotel, you could take one of the Charlie & the chocolate factory-esque glass elevators down the cliff which gave insane views out of, or meander down through the lemon groves. Beach clubs are a big thing in Italy, and so to have this as part of the hotel was perfect.

Spot the elevator! 

Look at that water! There’s both a pool and steps into the ocean to choose between for swimming or just floating around {I discovered how fun, and freeing, water noodles are to float around in the sea with! There are lots to borrow by the pool, and snorkels if you want to peek at the marine life}. After your swim you’ll come back to two fresh towels on your sunlounger and chilled bottles of water. The staff down there were the best at giving you a sunny spot to top up your tan, or angling an umbrella if you wanted shade. We’d opt for one and one! There’s also a restaurant called Al Mare serving wood-fired proper pizzas, Italian inspired salads and fish, and a pool bar to order an Aperol Spritz, or coffee to your loungers.

This quickly became our favourite spot. With an uninterrupted view out to sea. Isn't it funny how, even on a short trip of just 2 nights/3 days you get into a routine and find your favourite spots?

We spent our first day not moving from that beach club, rotating between taking photos, reading my kindle, reading the papers, sleeping in the hot sun and jumping into the sea. Lazy, holiday, heavenly days made all the more luxurious by this resort.

That evening, we had a reservation for dinner in the hotel's main restaurant Santa Caterina. Taking photos on our balcony before walking through the gardens to dinner. SO much love for this guy.

We went a little crazy with that tripod again...

But I love these photos. The perfect souvenir from this trip.

So many pretty tiled floors throughout the hotel.

At sunset, we walked through the terraced gardens to Restaurant Santa Caterina, a dreamy dreamy spot for a candle lit dinner. I’d recommend making advanced reservations, it’s an iconic and popular award winning spot which is listed in all of the authoritative restaurant guides.

We watched as the waiters in their tuxedos made sure everything was just perfect before taking us to our table on the terrace for the evening. The level and attention to detail, and with staff who have clearly been here for most of their lives, makes it all the more special. With a live pianist, playing that classic Italian O sole mio tune {that you might recognise as ‘just one cornetto’} and That’s Amore, and the view of Amalfi twinkling in the distance, my skin tingled with goosebumps as we took our seats.

It was one of those old school chivalrous places where the waiters only give the man the menu with the prices on, and the female's menu doesn't have any! Which in today's world is questionable I'm sure, what do they do about gay couples? And what if I was the one paying?! 

Menu politics aside, we ate the most delicious food. Starting with seafood salads before primi courses of pasta and then secondi lamb {for him} and lobster {for me} before fluffy souffle desserts.

My favourite!!

And then returned to our room to a chocolate on the pillow with turn-down service! <3 

The next morning, I left the shutters open so we could wake up to that sunrise as the Australian lady had advised, and boy was it worth it. I then went for a run around the coast to Atrani and back, again so in awe of those pink skies and the serenity of the sea views at that time of day.

I'm sure you'll question why I bothered to go running on holiday. And that's there was the breakfast buffet of dreams to tuck into! 

Breakfast was probably the best feast I’ve had in Europe. Again, it’s that silver service kind of table set up like dinner had been, although more relaxed for breakfast. And with everything you could possibly imagine for an indulgent start to the day. Should I admit to the fact that we ate some gelato for breakfast?! Along with heart shaped waffles, fresh cut fruit, the best proscuitto ham, a whole table full of cheeses including mozzarella you could never find in England, tomatoes, bacon/cooked breakfast meats, freshly cooked eggs to your liking, a bakery table and to regain some health – a juice station and health foods like buckwheat and puffed quinoa. We of course, had a bit of everything.

If you can bear to tear yourself away from Hotel Santa Caterina and *that* beach club, there is so much to do/see around Amalfi. The hotel itself is just a 15 minute walk from the centre of Amalfi, with beaches and sparkly water, gelato shops aplenty and the gorgeous multi coloured old crumbly town to explore. The hotel also offers a free shuttle transfer every half an hour throughout the day & evening if you don’t want to walk.

// Exploring Amalfi

We walked into Amalfi a few times. It was somewhere we'd only spent a very quick morning in on our last trip, so didn't realise quite how much there is going on around there and really enjoyed it on this visit. It's definitely worth a walk around the old marina {to the left of Amalfi as you look at it from the sea} and a walk up through town. The main square & cathedral are beautiful and seriously impressive too.

Atrani, just around the road bend from Amalfi, is a non-touristy, gorgeously authentic little piece of Italy with a beach and small piazzetta {square}. Walk round the cliff on the way there looking down at the sea below, then follow the tiled signs back to Amalfi from the square that will take you through a myriad of secret passageways! It's such a cool walk.

One of my favourite photos of the whole trip. Atrani.

Classic scenes like these.

We had lunch at the highly recommend Pizzeria called Donna Stella one afternoon, set under the lemon groves. And there are so many gelato shops in town where we finished off our trip, one last gelato for the road before we headed to the airport. Oh, Italy!

If you haven't been before, Ravello is definitely worth a trip. Up above Amalfi sits Ravello, with dream spots like Villa Cimbrone for the famous views that you see on the front of guidebooks. You can catch a bus from Amalfi up to Ravello, wander around and then walk back down the coast to Atrani and back round. We did this on our last visit to the Amalfi Coast last May and it was definitely a day to remember {see this post}. And of course, you can catch the ferry to Positano, and Capri, easily from Amalfi for day trips. Hotel Santa Caterina is such a great base to explore the Amalfi Coast from. Definitely not cheap, but a truly special place for a truly special trip! 

Back to Blighty after twelve ridiculously wonderful days in Italy. Hope you've enjoyed following along!

You can find more on Hotel Santa Caterina here.

R <3 xx 

{I was a guest of Hotel Santa Caterina but as always, all opinions are 100% my own and I would never promote anywhere I didn't truly love}

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