High Drama in the Seaside Hotels of the Amalfi Coast – MICHELIN Guide

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Italy’s Amalfi Coast is storybook Europe. Here, MICHELIN Key hotels crawl down cliffs and meet cute with romantic coves and secret grottos in the sea below. It’s pure theater, and you’re welcome to play a part.

On May 7, 2024, the MICHELIN Guide announced its top honors for hotels in Italy, bestowing the most outstanding places in the country with one, two, or three Keys.

It’s hardly a surprise so many hotels on the Amalfi Coast earned the distinction. When you talk about the Amalfi Coast, you’re in benchmark territory — in the world of picturesque, cliff-hugging village jewels, this stretch of Italian waterfront is legendary, and for good reason. The hospitality dials itself up accordingly: classically proportioned villas and palatial summer retreats stake their stunning claims in lush tiers, peacocking in that good-natured Italian way with an infinity pool here, a candlelit terrace there, and everywhere the Tyrrhenian waters’ painterly backdrop.

Iconic travel destinations acquire their reputations by offering visitors the chance to live as dramatically as possible, if only for a night. They present, to those willing to make the trip, a suspenseful, riveting, rousing performance — a view of life upgraded from the everyday. The hotels and resorts of the Amalfi Coast are the storybook version of Europe. And they, as much as anything else on the continent, define the drama we all desire from our most ambitious escapes.

Le Sirenuse

Positano

Le Sirenuse is remarkably un-hotel-like. For two hundred and fifty years it was the summer house of the noble Neapolitan family Marchese Sersale, who still run the hotel. Despite its location, Le Sirenuse is quiet, isolated from the local traffic and apparently from most tourists. Nonetheless, we love the fact that it’s part of Positano, a town that’s constructed like an amphitheater — houses literally cut into the cliff, each one with an unobstructed view over the next one, and stairs instead of streets. Inside, it’s simple and lovely, with an authenticity so unpretentious it’s almost careless.

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Borgo Santandrea 

Amalfi

It takes a fine hotel to stand out amid the legends of the Amalfi Coast, but the ultra-chic, ultra-luxe Borgo Santandrea seems up to the task. It’s a Sixties modernist structure, thoroughly renovated under the direction of architect Rino Gambardella, and it’s full of classic mid-century furniture from the owner’s private collection, all reupholstered in Italian-made fabrics. Virtually everything else is new, from the tile floors to the landscaping, but it all feels perfectly at home, as though it’s always been here.

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Hotel Santa Caterina

Amalfi

The Santa Caterina is an absolute classic. Family-owned for the better part of a century, it sits high on a hillside facing the sea and the town of Amalfi — guests ride an elevator down to the hotel’s private beach, for the ultimate storybook Italian-coast experience. Santa Caterina is the real deal: the grounds are all terraces, olive groves and lemon orchards, with the kind of jaw-dropping views that make the Amalfi one of the world’s most special places.

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Il San Pietro di Positano

Positano

A small 17th-century chapel devoted to San Pietro marks the hotel entrance, and the rest of the property hangs on the cliffside below, each level descending the face like a staircase, offering unparalleled views of the sea from every room and every terrace. The hotel is built just one room deep, and there are no inferior views; each room hugs the cliff at its back side and opens onto a private terrace at the front.

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Casa Angelina

Praiano

Praiano isn’t the most famous town on the Amalfi Coast, but its appeal is undeniable: it’s just beyond Positano, which not only places it outside the most crowded stretch of the coast, but gives it an astonishing view of Positano itself, along with the dramatic seascapes to the west. This is where you’ll find Casa Angelina, a rare hotel that makes a virtue of modern architecture and design even in these most traditional environs — and, in the process, establishes a tone of understated luxury that few hotels anywhere can match.

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Caruso, A Belmond Hotel, Amalfi Coast

Ravello

The Caruso has long been one of the Amalfi’s highlights. High on a cliffside in Ravello, the view of the coast from its terrace has been described as the most beautiful in the world by no less an authority than Gore Vidal. Rooms wind and wend through the building, each different, all sumptuously furnished and most with views that range from rather good to jaw-dropping. It’s been renovated, yes, but hardly modernized — it’s still got the classic looks (and old-world service) that made it a favorite in the first place.

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Palazzo Pascal

Scala

The Palazzo Pascal has stood for centuries, first as an aristocratic residence, and now as a luxurious but low-key seven-suite boutique hotel. Some of the suites are more self-contained than others; some of them have little French balconies, others proper terraces, but all have views of the spectacular Amalfi Coast. The style makes the most of the palazzo’s heritage, but it’s a loose interpretation, a historically inspired contemporary hotel rather than a strict period reconstruction.

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