Tried & Tested

Hotel check: Santa Caterina

17 Apr 2012 by Jenny Southan

WHAT’S IT LIKE? This family-run Leading Hotels of the World property was closed for refurbishment until March, but has since reopened for the summer season. The interiors are Mediterranean in feel, with fresh white walls and tiled floors, and the outdoor terrace leading out from reception offers stunning panoramic views.

As the late 19th-century “Liberty-style” property is built on to the side of a steep cliff, levels descend from the street-level reception down to the waterside Beach Club via a glass-fronted lift. Most rooms (except for the honeymoon suites) are located in the main building, on the two levels above and the three levels below reception

Nine one-bedroom suites, Executive Junior suites and Superior rooms are located in Villa Santa Caterina, while four Suites and Deluxe doubles are located in Villa il Rosso. Honeymoon suites Romeo and Giulietta, and Follia Amalfitana are located in the gardens, the first just above sea level and the second higher up. The hotel closes for the season in November.

WHERE IS IT? Perched high on the cliffs looking out over the sea, a five-minute drive from the seafront Marina Grande where the ferries come in. Guests should take a taxi up, but the 20-minute walk downhill is enjoyable when it’s not too hot.

ROOM FACILTIES The fresh, airy bedrooms feature vaulted ceilings and balconies facing the sea (side views from Standard rooms). Amenities that come as standard include free wifi, air conditioning, fridges and satellite TVs, while higher category suites also have spa baths and living areas. The décor varies from simple white and cream, to more vivid palettes of blue and gold or pink and buttercup – the Follia Amalfintana honeymoon suite even has an emerald ceramic floor. The styles also vary slightly from more traditional (patterned bedspreads and sofas) to more contemporary (minimalist design and neutral upholstery).

RESTAURANTS AND BARS As well as a wine cellar stocked with hundreds of vintages from almost every region of Italy, Campania to Veneto, the hotel has Bar La Terrazza for snacks and drinks including homemade lemon liqueur (a local favourite), and two restaurants. The lobby-level Santa Caterina serves a lavish breakfast buffet, with white-jacketed waiters on hand to fold your napkin and top up your water in between bringing you freshly made coffee and juice.

In the evening, guests can order from the menu of high-end Mediterranean cuisine. Although I didn’t have the opportunity to sample anything, dishes include the likes of risotto with pumpkin blossom, asparagus and clams, and potato ravioli with Monaco cheese and vegetable ragout. Between May and October, lunch is available at Ristorante al Mare, at the sea-level Beach Club. Options range from lobster salad to a wide selection of calzone folded pizzas. Note the prices are high – a fresh fruit juice or cocktail will set you back between €10 and €20.

BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES The hotel has a business area with a laptop free for guests to use around the corner from reception, and there are event spaces for dinners or conferences. Veranda can seat 70 delegates theatre-style, while Bourgainville can host ten people in a classroom layout. The décor is fresh, with white archways, natural daylight, and equipment including overhead projectors, flip charts, DVD players and photocopiers.

LEISURE FACILTIES The Beach Club is a narrow stretch carved out of the rock at the base of the cliffs (which swimmers can jump off into the sea) and has a salt-water pool and plenty of loungers. I spent an afternoon here and found the service to be very attentive – fresh towels were brought to me on arrival, my sunbed positioned just the way I liked it, menus, cold flannels and sliced fruit brought over from time to time, and delicious bowls of green olives and crisps served with drinks.

There is a modest wellness centre on level minus two offering massages, facials and body treatments, a boutique selling jewellery and swimwear (open April to October 9.45am-11.30am/12.15pm-4pm), and a fitness centre (open 8am-10pm) with views of the sea. It is a short walk to the town of Amalfi and the marina.

VERDICT A wonderfully relaxing escape with excellent service from friendly, professional staff. The location is stunningly beautiful, and the Beach Club and panoramic views true highlights. I wish I could have stayed longer.

FACT FILE:

HOW MANY ROOMS? There are 66 in total – 36 Standard, Superior and Deluxe bedrooms, and 13 suites in the main hotel, plus 17 rooms and suites in the Villa Santa Caterina and Villa II Rosso.

ROOM HIGHLIGHTS The spacious room, free wifi and sea-view balcony.

PRICE Internet rates for a weekend stay in May started from €369 for a Standard room including breakfast.

CONTACT Santa Caterina, SS Amalfitana 9; tel +39 8987 1012; lhw.com

Jenny Southan

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