WHAT’S IT LIKE? A member of The Leading Hotels of the World, this five-star property is known locally as Albergo Vesuvio and has welcomed numerous actors, models, musicians, politicians, film directors and public figures since its opening in 1882. Some of those best remembered names include Pablo Picasso, Grace Kelly, Errol Flynn, Alfred Hitchcock, Giorgio Armani, Bruce Springsteen, Claudia Schiffer, Bill Clinton, Matt Damon, Roman Polanski, Paolo Bulgari and Woody Allen. So if you like the idea of hotel with a good sprinkling of celebrity DNA, you won’t be disappointed. It is also popular with business travellers, having hosted events such as the G7 Summit in 1994.
WHERE IS IT? The hotel is on Naple’s waterfront, opposite the Castel dell’Ovo and Santa Lucia harbour. It’s a 40-minute walk to the city centre or ten minutes in a taxi. The ferry terminals of Beverello and Mergellina, where tourists can catch boats to Capri, Sorrento and Amalfi, are eastwards along the bay (five minutes by car). The airport is 20-25 minutes’ drive away.
ROOM FACILITIES All rooms come with air conditioning, big comfortable beds, minibars, pay TV, satellite channels, wifi internet access (€30 per stay), turndown service and lavish traditional-style interiors complete with heavy wooden furniture and high ceilings. My room was overwhelmingly green, with stripy silk covered walls in olive shades, and a carpet, curtains and bedspread in similar hues.
There was also a workdesk, built-in wardrobes, armchairs, a small balcony, black-out blinds that came down electronically (rather like the metal grill outside jewellery shops), a bathroom with a combined tub and shower, and a control panel by the bed with an integrated radio and speakers in the bathroom.
RESTAURANTS AND BARS I did not get the opportunity to eat dinner at the hotel but did sample the buffet breakfast, which is served at Verdi restaurant on the first floor. It is an elegant dining establishment with immaculately dressed waiters in white jackets, tables draped with heavy linen cloths and a generous array of hot and cold foodstuffs (including many different kinds of cake) laid out on a long table for guests to help themselves to. I was a little disappointed with the quality of some of it, though – the fruit salad looked unappetising as it was roughly chopped, for example, which is something I would expect a hotel of this caliber to put more effort into normally.
Vesuvietta bar, on the ground floor, serves cocktails and snacks from 9am-1pm and has live piano music from 7pm, while the ninth-floor Caruso Roof Garden restaurant is the Vesuvio’s standout dining establishment. It offers a beautiful setting with stunning views of the Bay of Naples, pots of brightly coloured flowers and an outdoor sundeck. There is also seating in its sleek, contemporary interior. The eatery’s signature dish is Bacatini alla Caruso – a pasta dish topped with a sauce of fresh peppers, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil, chilli and fried courgette. Reservations are recommended and men should wear jackets. Open for lunch and dinner Tuesday to Sunday.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES There are seven “Salas” for events, ranging from the 400-capacity Scarlatti ballroom by the lobby, to the Bellini boardroom for ten delegates. Verdi, on the first floor, has views of the sea and can host 40 people cabaret-style, while Cimarosa, on the second floor, can accommodate 20 guests for a presentation. There is also a wood paneled business centre with the usual essentials such as printers, PCs, a fax, photocopier, scanner and internet access.
LEISURE FACILITIES The on-site fitness and relaxation centre, Echia Club features a ten-metre indoor pool, a gym with cardio machines and free weights, a sauna, Turkish bath and a range of spa treatments including shiatsu massage. The club is open 7.30am-9pm Monday to Friday, and 8.30am-8pm on Saturday. It is closed on Sunday but open on request. (Entrance fee is €15 euros per peson per day.) Mini cruises can be booked on the hotel’s cabin cruiser, Vesuvietta, which has a bedroom, living and dining room.
VERDICT A high-end historical hotel that offers traditional Italian elegance, celebrity heritage and good service. I found it to be a little out of the way, though, and the décor rather old fashioned for my tastes. The event facilities are good and being close to the harbour is convenient for holidaymakers or incentive groups looking to catch boats to nearby spots along the coast.
HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 160 bedrooms including 21 suites.
ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The large comfortable bed and balcony with sea views.
PRICE Internet rates for a midweek stay in October started from €189 for a Superior King room.
CONTACT Grand Hotel Vesuvio, Via Partenope, 45; tel +39 081 7640 044; lhw.com/vesuvio