From this moment onwards, the experience did not resemble anything I usually associate with a hotel…. Double rooms from £442.95 (€495), including tax at 10 per cent. The SatNav indicated that we had arrived, so we pulled up by an entrance, marked by a discreet tiled sign: Monastero Santa Rosa. The coast itself is riddled with caves – most famous are the Coral Caves and La Grotta Blanca, where the water perfectly reflects a painting of the Virgin Mary. window.monetateQ = window.monetateQ || []; If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days. Pick at sandwiches, pasta, bigger-deal meals and sweet treats around the clock. Monastero Santa Rosa is the definition of top tier luxury, even against similar hotels we've been. The drive to Naples should take an hour and a half; to reach Salerno, allow an hour. The town of Ravello is brimming with beauty, including the gardens of the Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone and the heart-beating views out to sea. Capri is a great day out from here – the island is only 40 minutes away. And while this terrain never used to boast any respectable vintages, Amalfi now yields some world-class wines made from grapes grown not far from the hotel itself. The painstaking renovation of Monastero Santa Rosa, a 17th-century monastery, has resulted in a unique Amalfi boutique hotel steeped in history, lavished with top-quality furnishings, and set in gloriously scented tiered gardens. Conca dei Marini itself is a sleepy fishermen’s village 4km from Amalfi with cobblestone and lemon grove clichés that have international jetset flocking. Stepping into our Sea View Deluxe Suite and we were met by wide vaulting and four windows overlooking the sea and simple but very luxurious furnishings. Original decorative pieces dating from Monastero Santa Rosa’s original 17th-century incarnation as a monastery, and there’s even an original confession booth. For a chic eat, try Da Gemma on Via Fra Gerardo Sasso (+39 08 987 1345). He set us up in no time and even arranged a simple and delicious lunch from the pool menu, which offers simple classics as tomato and mozzarella and melon and Italian ham. Grazie mille for such an amazing labour of love. More hotels in Italy. Over-16s are welcome, the hotel is more suited to romantic escapes. Inside, a corner of the intimate vaulted dining room is especially romantic. Its South Carolina owner then executed a 10-year renovation programme to transform the property using local artisans and craftsmen. Yes, the pool was wonderful, warm and oh-so inviting – who could ever tire of being perched on its edge taking in those incredible sea views? Old black-and-white pictures treat guests to a clearer idea of what this unique building and its interior used to look like. Bianca Sharma fell in love with the property and set about acquiring it immediately. Perched dramatically on the edge of a sheer cliff above that blue, blue Bay of Salerno in the fishing village of Conca dei Marini, the 20 ocean-view rooms and Santa Maria Novella … Since the Amalfi Coast always headlines in the glossiest travel magazines as the place to be and be seen, one has such romantic notions of this celebrated Italian coastline. Get the celebrity treatment with world-class service at Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa This luxurious adult-only hotel is perched on a cliff with panoramic views of the Gulf of Salerno. As you can imagine, by now we were desperate to dump our luggage and hit that water. Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR495.00), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate. Fresh, local, seasonal, and Michelin-respected sure – but when it comes to 10-course affairs in candlelit settings it’s easy to see why it is up there as one of the most celebrated spots to eat in the world (+39 089 875 066). Particularly when the concierge recommends you rent a boat. In-room: flatscreen TV, mini fridge. Images abound of Sophia Loren sunbathing her chestnut skin, dramatic winding roads overlooking the coastline as far as the eye can see, beautiful tables laid out with the best Italian fare, and of course endless blue seas and skies. Since the hotel’s terrace enjoys one of the most special Amalfi Coast views possible, if the weather lets you go alfresco, any of the sea-view tables are benissimo. Inside the spa there is a heated hydrotherapy pool. This spring holiday weekend was to be our first proper Mr & Mrs Smith-style escapade in over a year, so I wanted it to hit all the right notes. For this visit, I’m happy to report, the tables were definitely turned in my favour. More on that in a minute. 27 degrees, not one cloud in the sky – this was better than any May weekend back in London. Stepping out here we were able to get a full view of the alabaster-toned splendour and tiered landscaping. We’d heard that the food was not too formal in the way some Italian restaurants can be. As one might expect, the wine cellar has among its 400 varieties some incredible local wines such as Furore’s DOC white or red are delicious, as well as world-famous award winners. Head north to explore the ruins at Pompeii (an hour’s drive from the hotel), or to climb Vesuvius (an hour and a half away). A credit to the American owner perhaps? No need to be catwalk-fit: off-duty but elegant should do the trick. Interested in the ancient? But on our way back, as we saw Monastero Santa Rosa reappear high up on its cliff, our hearts lurched again for our very special home for the weekend. Enthused by the whole experience so far, we grilled poor Filipo about who could have been behind such a gargantuan project. It’s a strenuous hike, all right, but more than worth the effort for the views alone. I hadn’t been to the Amalfi coast in almost a decade. Ditch the heels – this is steeply stepped terrain. On our second day we cruised to Positano and had lunch at Conca del Sogno – a beach club restaurant especially wonderful when accessed from the water. Perched dramatically on the edge of a sheer cliff above that blue, blue Bay of Salerno in the fishing village of Conca dei Marini, the 20 ocean-view rooms and Santa Maria Novella-stocked spa are remarkably spacious and utterly romantic. Infinity pools don’t come more stunning than the heated one here that is more like its own shoreline melting into the azure Amalfi sky-meets-sea horizon: Wander onto its beach-like edge then perch and enjoy an unfettered panorama from the direction of Ravello to Positano. We walked though a small archway and up a few steps, and as soon as the hotel staff caught a glimpse of us, they rang the monastery bell to signal our arrival. Flowers have inspired the names of all the suites, and we quickly twigged that despite the grandeur of this Amalfi hotel, there are in fact only very few bedrooms (a mere 20 in total, all ocean view). Expectations were super high, which is never the best starting point. A free shuttle to Amalfi is available. When it’s chef Christoph Bob who is behind your homemade spaghetti with vegetables and baby squid expect the spectacular; even his wild strawberry take on cheesecake is an extraordinary interpretation – he was plucked from Alain Ducasse’s thrice Michelin-starred restaurant at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. We were informed that the hotel was acquired a dozen years past by an American heiress who had seen the castle-like silhouette from her boat as she sailed along the coast. Sea-lovers can skip touring the coastline by winding, vertiginous road and hop on a boat to Positano or Ravello. The spa is a destination in its own right, if only for a noseful of the Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella unguents and a whirl in the thermal spa (Finnish sauna, steam room, ice fountain and more). The airport in Naples is 70 kilometres from the hotel and has regular flights from the UK, Geneva, Milan, Madrid and Berlin. Spa and fitness facilities, free WiFi throughout. In Amalfi, romantic Lido Azzurro is a favourite for fine dining (+39 08 987 1384): needless to say, fresh fish is a speciality. Amalfi and Positano can both be reached in under half an hour, but you may even prefer to visit the other towns along the coast by boat. Once again God was in the detail: wonderful bed linen, juicy just-picked strawberries, and extremely efficient WiFi – which despite the incredibly thick walls works throughout the hotel and even by the pool. And there is also an infinity pool like no other – it literally appears to drop into the ocean. Plush and immaculately groomed gardens burst with orange and lemon trees, herbs of all aromas, full-bloomed roses and endless walls festooned in fragrant jasmine… and of course there’s that dazzling panoramic view over the cliff across the blue Bay of Salerno. In Positano, La Sponda restaurant at le Sirenuse is no secret but it is world famous for a reason. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €4.50 per person per night on check-out. Little surprise then that we could have easily stayed put on the premises for all three days and nights, but since the hotel’s location is so well positioned an explore of the Amalfi Coast is irresistible. In the absence of a formal check-in, we were greeted by the large welcoming smile of a smart-looking concierge who plied us with fresh lemonade made from the hotel’s own huge Sorrento lemons. More hotels in Amalfi Coast While there, pop into the 11th-century Duomo in Piazza Duomo – Ravello is one of the few villages on the Amalfi Coast to boast an ancient cathedral. Monastero Santa Rosa is a premiere luxury resort hotel on the Amalfi Coast of Italy just North of Amalfi and South of Positano. Santa Rosa Ristorante wows with Campania flavours done simply but perfectly, many of the organic ingredients picked from the hotel’s own gardens. Starting from Praiano, walk a few hundred metres towards Bomerano, until you reach the marble plaque commemorating Giustino Fortunato, the economist who named the path, then follow the mountainside track to the monastery of San Domenico. Take one relaxed lounge bar, add a watery sunset or starlit sky and you may concur that all that’s missing from toast-worthy scene is a Monastero Martini (vanilla vodka, white cocoa cream, limoncello, fresh cream milk) or a Conca cosmopolitan (vodka, Cointreau, limoncello, cranberry juice). Having just driven around countless bends like an ageing Stirling Moss, we were both feeling a little off-colour. Breakfast ends at a civilised 10.30pm; lunch is flexible throughout the day and dinner runs 7.30pm–10.30pm. It could only take a Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella spa to tempt you inside on days like that. The Amalfi Coast’s incredible scenery has lured many an artist to the area – independent art galleries pepper the path to Positano. Catch a classical concert in Ravello (www.ravelloarts.org), where there’s a festival every summer. Landlubbers, the Sentiero degli Dei (‘Path of the Gods’) is a spectacularly scenic trek along the cliffs. There are train stations in Naples and Salerno, served by Trenitalia trains (www.trenitalia.com) that will get you around the country, including direct services to Rome. But from the moment we arrived at Monastero Santa Rosa we were far from disappointed. Pasticceria Pansa is the famous traditional patisserie and café (+39 08 987 1065). Fans of the Florentine apothecary will thrill too at the treatments using the aromatic ancient-recipe products. Standing in the vast majestic vaulted hallway of the monastery, a small door beckoned us onto a tempting terrace of majolica tiling. My last trip was under very different circumstances: I spent my time sweating away in the galley cooking for a boatful of above-deck guests. Filipo was at the pool to greet us, and he couldn’t have been more charming or helpful. © 2020 Smith Global Ltd – Boutique and luxury hotels and villas. Walking down one flight of stairs and down the hall towards our suite, was enough to have us amazed by the attention to detail. A former monastery, it maintains the original style, and offers a garden with swimming pool and a free spa.

monastero santa rosa hotel & spa

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