Hotel Santa Caterina

Hotel in Amalfi Coast

5-Star Hotel

David Harfield revels in the quirky, old school charm of Santa Caterina, Amalfi.

There are some places in the world that seem to be the living embodiment of technological progression, as if designed by an AI robot with a human apprentice.  The futuristic cityscapes of Tokyo and Dubai are undeniably impressive but I can’t help but feel that these zeitgeistic locations lack a certain sense of charisma.  If there’s one place that deserves to be trapped in amber, unchanged and unfettered by the advancement of technology, it’s the Amalfi Coast and, more specifically, Santa Caterina hotel.  Once I’ve checked in to this outstanding testament to a lifestyle most people only experience vicariously via Woody Allen movies, I turn off my phone (obvs after ’gramming a pano of the landscape, ’cos after all #yolo, right?) and appreciate the tranquillity of a hotel that will only ever have to be itself.

Set on the corner of a clifftop road that seems to be all corners, Santa Caterina has a large forecourt where guests can park their cars or (and I would advise this unless you’re ex-Formula One or really, really loved Alton Towers) get dropped off by taxi.  The staff are courteous and helpful from the start, giving us an enormous, tasseled room key that doubles as a fob for the lights (no boring plastic swipecards here, thank you very much) and we walk past the second foyer area where they’re giving a nod to the outside world by showing the Euro 2016 matches (although after I see England’s woeful performance I’m praying for a power cut).

Our room is bright and ornate, the natural light streaming in from the clear balcony doors hitting the brilliant, patterned tiles and illuminating the whole space.  With a massive bathtub and a rain shower, the bathroom is also elegantly set out and of a decent size.  There’s a flatscreen TV opposite the king-sized bed but you wouldn’t want to watch it when you can simply step onto the balcony, sit by the glass table and look out at the glistening azure ocean that stretches over towards Amalfi.  Later tonight, I watch fireworks splash incendiary streams over the houses, hotels and restaurants that make up this idyllic town in a sparkling homage for the religious  Festival of Sant’ Andrea, a saint who, on this day in 1544, saved Amalfi from pirates by stirring up a violent sea storm.  Top lad, Sant’ Andrea.

I mentioned Woody Allen before but the more that I explore the resort, the more I feel as if I’ve wandered onto the set of a Wes Anderson film; the linen suited staff escort well-to-do guests from the vast, expensively decorated foyer over to the balcony restaurant and I half expect to find myself perching on a barstool in between Bill Murray and Owen Wilson, nattering gorgeous gibberish at each other over Negroni sundowners.

The restaurant serves fresh, local cuisine in a haute cuisine fashion in the evening and we enjoy a fantastic meal on the first night of our stay; it’s also the destination for breakfast and we pile our plates high with the pastries, fresh fruit, bespoke omelettes and sliced meat that are in plentiful supply at the buffet.  Washing our morning feast down with a trifecta of freshly squeezed orange juice, strong coffee and a glass of Prosecco (hey, it’s six o’clock somewhere, no?), it’s tempting to stay here all day, ignoring the Brexit headlines screaming at me from the complimentary copy of The New York Times and gazing wistfully over the horizon, thinking about not very much at all.  But there’s a pool to explore.

The lift down to the beach club is slow which allows for a Hitchcockian level of suspense, the excitement of scaling hundreds of feet down a mountainside building up and up until you burst out of the elevator and into the paradisiacal setting, grabbing a towel from the bar whilst simultaneously ordering a Spritz to be served to your sun lounger next to the ocean pool.  That’s right, while there is a swimming pool for kids (and timid adults) to play in, what you’ll really want to do is dive into the bigger pool, i.e. the sea, straight from the jetty.  Swimming underwater, you’ll hear the xylophonic crackle and pop of pebbles being pushed along the seafloor before coming up for air and staring back at the dramatic cliff face, its many ravines garnished by Amalfi’s ubiquitous lemon trees and bright purple bougainvillea.

I chat to one guest who spends every summer here and intimates that she doesn’t really tend to stray too far from the resort.  The town is only a fifteen-minute walk or a five-minute free transfer away and from there you can catch the ferry to Positano, Sorrento, Capri and other must-see areas on the coastal map, or the hotel can even arrange for a private boat to take you wherever you want.  While I really would advise checking out the surrounding towns as they all offer their own beautifully appealing idiosyncrasies, I understand the lack of impetus to leave what has to be one of the world’s most perfect hotels.  Especially if you’ve turned your phone off and can’t see your schedule.

David Harfield is a freelance food and travel writer and the director of the social media solutions company PepperStorm Media

Photographs courtesy of Hotel Santa Caterina

Reviewer's Rating
Relaxation, Beach / Sun
Services Free High Speed Internet, Restaurant, Room Service, Fitness Center, Swimming Pool, Health Spa, Family Friendly
Dress Code Smart Casual
Cost Expensive
Ambience Quiet, Incredible Staff, Hidden Gem, Elegant
Number of Rooms 36 rooms, 13 suites and two Garden Suites

Room and Suite Categories

Partial Sea View, Executive Partial Sea View, Front Sea View and Deluxe bedrooms plus Junior Suites, Executive Junior Suites and Suites as well as Garden Suites.

Additional Ambience Information

The spa and gym are situated right next to the ocean.

Additional Price Comments

Massages in the spa cost from €60.

Last updated on 14-07-2016

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