Where is it?
In pretty Positano, one of the most spectacular towns on the Amalfi Coast, carved into the steep hillside. It’s an hour and a half’s drive from Naples, and close to other desirable destinations on the vertiginous coastline such as Amalfi and Ravello.
The rambling ox-blood red villa used to be a private house, and it retains that feel. Cool white walls, antique furniture collected by the Sersale family, princess beds and eclectic art on the walls made for a traditional and quietly luxurious stay. Each room has its own balcony overlooking pastel-coloured houses of Positano and the sea and are ideally positioned for sundowners.
It’s owned and run by the Sersale family since the beginning – and it shows in the attention to detail, service and feel of the hotel.
Food & drink
Everything you eat and drink here will be immaculate, like the rest of the hotel. Breakfast is served on your balcony or from the lemon-tree clad pool terrace, a delightful spread of fruits, cereals, breads, balls of buffalo mozzarella, luscious tomatoes and fresh juices with coffee made to your order. There is also a selection of egg dishes to order.
As the sun begins to dip behind the hill, stop for a drink at the Champagne and Oyster bar, which has the prettiest view, or Francos, the alfresco bar just next to the hotel and named after the current owner Antonio’s beloved father.
For dinner, booking into its signature Michelin-starred restaurant La Sponda is a must. I’m not normally one for fine dining, but you can’t fail to be blown away by the pure romance of the place. The sprawling room is lit by hundreds of candles and its ceiling is dripping with meandering vines, with windows pulled back to give an inside-outside feeling. While you’re eating of octopus confit, lobster pasta and lemon soufflé, a trio of musicians will serenade you with the sweet sound of the mandolin – sounds naff, but the whole experience is heaven.
Le Sirenuse has possibly the best ‘facility’ of any hotel I’ve ever stayed in. And no it’s not the gorgeous spa or the picturesque swimming pool on the terrace of the fourth floor. It’s the vintage boat that takes guests out on most days for morning dips, lunch trips and sunset bellinis on the water – at no extra charge. Make sure you book ahead with the front desk to reserve your space, and then it’s just a short hop down to the beach to climb on board. Otherwise the hotel revolves around different places to eat and drink. There’s the champagne and oyster bar, which is perfect at sunset,
Positano is lovely place to explore – just be prepared for crowds who are bus-ed and boat-ed in every day. If you can bear to drag yourself away from Le Sirenuse and its boat, there is one restaurant that’s an absolute must-visit: Da Adolfo. Only accessible by water, the restaurant has its own wooden boat that ferries its guests back and forth throughout the day. It’s a low-key place with a loyal fan base who come for the beachfront position, fresh catch and very reasonable for the prices. The tuna carpaccio and marinated anchovies are the way to start. Afterwards, you can swim off the rocks until you feel like heading back to Positano.
The rambling warren-like nature of the building is misleading about its size, there are only 58 rooms. Almost all the rooms are elegant and have Instagram-worthy views over the bay of Positano, but stretch to the Deluxe Sea View option if you can. The rooms are more spacious and have full sea views.
We saw families and mother-son duos, but really this is a hotel for couples. It’s a very romantic hotel that suits couples of all ages.
When to go
Avoid the Amalfi Coast crush in summer – it gets seriously busy in July and August – and go for May or September.