Hotel Santa Caterina, Amalfi: 'I wanted something that felt Italian'
The luxurious Hotel Santa Caterina boasts Med-side views of the Amalfi Coast and a hefty dose of Italian-flavoured glamour, as Sara Odeen-Isbister discovers...
Lead Image: Santa Caterina
There is something undeniably romantic and glamorous about the Amalfi Coast.
Mountains dropping into a turquoise sea, cascading pastel-coloured homes and chic boutiques, sun-kissed bathers enjoying Aperol spritzers, lemon trees almost everywhere you look and of course the food.
Oh the food! I could go on forever about the food. I won’t (though it will come up again).
As my first trip to this famous coastline (and actually to Italy!) was to mark my 40th, I wanted to stay somewhere that bit extra special. The area is home to some the country’s best hotels, so if budget isn’t an issue, you’re spoilt for choice.
After a bit of research and a couple of recommendations, I decided on Hotel Santa Caterina in Amalfi, a beautiful 19th century villa perched on top of a cliff, just a short walk up the hill from the main town.
The five-star hotel overlooks gardens and orchards that wind their way down the cliffside along a series of natural terraces in the rock face.
At the bottom there’s the hotel’s ‘Beach Club’ - although there’s actually no beach, you do have a sunbathing terrace with a ladder into the sea and a closed off area to swim in. There’s also a pool, bar and restaurant.
Beaches on the Amalfi Coast can get very crowded – especially in high season - so this was a lovely, little peaceful haven to relax in. It can be accessed via stairs through the garden or a lift.
Inside, the hotel has a luxurious but traditional feel, which is what I was after. I wanted something that felt Italian, which Santa Caterina does.
We stayed in a lovely room overlooking the sea, with its own balcony and en-suite with a shower and separate jacuzzi bath.
The hotel also has suites, which are bigger rooms with open-plan living areas, and the Giulietta e Romeo Chalet, which has its own private infinity pool and garden.
So, back to the food. Probably my favourite thing about Santa Caterina was its main restaurant, Glicine, partly for its incredible panoramic views of the sea and Amalfi’s picturesque bay, but especially for its cuisine.
Glicine, headed up by chef Giuseppe Stanzione, was awarded a Michelin Star in 2020, and its well deserved. My partner and I both had the tasting menu and enjoyed a variety of intricate and fascinating dishes from tagliatelle of cuttlefish with cucumber, avocado and salted lemon to grilled scampi with buttermilk, chard, finger lime and crumble of lightly spicy nduja sausage. My personal highlight was, however, the dessert, cow-buffalo ricotta cheese and raspberries – ridiculously delicious.
The restaurant also offers an enormous selection of wine – we had a bottle of Montiano Merlot Rosso (Lazio), one of the best reds I’ve ever tasted. It was recommended by the hotel’s lovely sommelier, Luca Amato, who aerated the wine in front of us with impressive flair.
As it was my birthday on our second day at the hotel, my partner organised for a stunning lemon and pistachio sponge cake to be delivered to our room in the morning, which tasted as good as it looked.
From the hotel you can easily walk into Amalfi, a pretty town filled with piazzas, a small beach and a medieval Roman cathedral.
Much like Sorrento and Positano, it is very touristy, but sitting by the bay as the sun goes down, sipping a limoncello spritzer and soaking up that romance and glamour, you can forgive the fact you have to share the magic with a few other enchanted travellers.
From Amalfi you can take ferries to, among other destinations, Positano, Sorrento and Capri, while a short bus ride or taxi brings you to Ravello, which lies just four miles away, inland. Ravello was built up on a hill in the 5th century and offers a host of lush villas, pretty gardens and al-fresco cafes.
Rooms start from €550 a night. It takes about an hour and 15 minutes to drive from Naples Airport to Amalfi. Transfers from the hotel are available.
For more information on Hotel Santa Caterina visit hotelsantacaterina.it