For Teo van den Broeke's review, scroll down.
There is something incredibly soothing about waking up in an entirely white room, especially when you can then pad across the floor, lift the blinds and stare out onto a vast expanse of sea. We had arrived at Casa Angelina feeling exhausted – our frenetic city lives completely to blame – but, while it usually takes us a couple of days to properly unwind, here it happened almost instantaneously. Everything, from the white colour scheme to the faint smell of aromatherapy oils throughout the hotel, conspired to ease my tense shoulders, and set my mind into slow motion.
And then, of course, there’s the view. The hotel is set into a rocky cliff on Italy’s Amalfi coast, and is perched high above the Mediterranean Sea. It's quite simply stunning, unless, that is, you suffer from vertigo. And you don't even need to step outside to gaze at the horizon – the front of the building is made up from a series of huge, floor-to-ceiling windows, so that a fantastic panorama greets you wherever you look. Even a lift, set into the rocks, is glass-fronted, so you can soak up sea sights as you’re shuttled up to breakfast.
When Mr Smith and I arrived at Casa Angelina, we found a bottle of chilled prosecco waiting for us in our room. We drank it greedily on our balcony, watching the sun set in the distance, and tried to work out why a strong floral smell kept wafting towards us, even though there were no flowers in sight. Later, we discovered that there are a series of tiered rose gardens at one end of hotel and the flowers release their scent at dusk. Bliss.
From our balcony we could hear the comforting murmur of people gossiping in the bar below, but as soon as we re-entered the room and shut the door, it became so silent that we could have been in our own private villa; just us and the sea. That night, after bathing with delicious l’Occitane toiletries, we headed to bed early and slept better than we had for months.
The next morning, we headed up to breakfast in the lift (which even I, a confirmed lift-hater, was beginning to look forward to entering), where we were met by the most gigantic spread, including glazed miniature pastries, kiwi and passion fruit, mangoes, rich yoghurts, almond torte, poached eggs, smoked salmon, rye bread, fruit juices, hot chocolate and, of course, freshly ground Italian coffee. Mr Smith and I are both gluttonous and indecisive, which meant that we had to have at least three courses – each. Afterwards, we waddled down to the swimming pool, where we lay on thick cushioned loungers, snoozed and drank bellinis.
When the mercury levels rose to a level that we Brits struggled to endure, we headed back to our room for a siesta. And how tranquil our surroundings were. The decor at Casa Angelina is simple – white walls and furnishings, with white and perspex furniture. Bedroom floors are laid with white tiles (they are polished dark wood elsewhere in the hotel), and the overall effect manages to be serene without being starchy or dull. Wacky sculptures made from colourful Murano glass are dotted throughout the hotel, and the ceiling in the bar sparkles with hundreds of miniscule lights. Given how exclusive it is, the atmosphere is totally unpretentious.
In the late afternoon, we took the five-minute walk down to the local beach. We ate tomato and mozzarella salads, and watched the Italians applaud each other as they leapt off rocks into the sea. This is a rocky, volcanic coastline, which means the sand is a greyish colour – but the payoff is that the water is clean and exceedingly clear.
The following day, we took a taxi from the hotel into Positano. It's only a 20-minute journey from Casa Angelina, but driving along the Amalfi coast isn't exactly for the faint-hearted. The winding roads have a sheer drop on one side and the Italians think nothing of overtaking on corners. ‘When a traffic light is red, it is only a suggestion,’ our driver told us, before asking us to give him adequate warning if we felt sick and needed him to stop. Thankfully, we didn't.
Positano itself is a busy town with pink and sand coloured houses built in such a huddled, higgledy-piggledy fashion that they look as though they're going to squash one another. The different parts of the town are connected by a series of alleyways and steep steps. By the time we’d finished exploring and started thinking about a refreshing granita, our calves felt as though they'd had their best workout in ages. Afterwards, back at Casa Angelina, we eased our aching muscles in the small but perfectly formed indoor pool and sauna. A canopy of fibre-optic lights twinkled above us.
We followed this with dinner in the Casa Angelina restaurant; and a risotto, a turbot fillet and two bottles of red later, we tumbled into bed slightly the worse for wear. Before nodding off to sleep, we mumbled vague plans to one another about when we could squeeze in another long weekend here. It can’t come soon enough.
Anonymously reviewed by Sophie Barton (Showbiz scribe)
Too much work and winter-induced malaise means these Mr Smiths are due a holiday. An empty long weekend and some last-minute flights to the Amalfi Coast present themselves, and we pounce. We’re on that plane faster than you can say ‘Andiamo!’. The second we come soaring into the shimmering haze of Naples Bay, all work stresses dissipate, replaced by thoughts of oranges plucked from the tree, pizzas pulled from the wood-fired oven, and Campari, well, straight from the bottle.
Though we’d planned on renting a car, the prospect of tackling the coast’s notoriously zigzagging roads brings out the scaredy cat in me, and we decide to take a taxi. A little flirt with car sickness and a near miss with a giant lemon (actually a lemonade truck) aside, the journey is smooth and pleasant – thanks mostly to the eye-popping view. Panoramas of this glistening gulp of the Med and its dramatic coastline hit us from every angle as we wend our way round the Gulf of Naples down to the southern coast of the Sorrentine Peninsula.
Positano marks our penultimate pitstop before the tiny village of Praiano. Hanging on the craggy landscape, tiers of pale apricot abodes seem on the brink of tumbling into the crystalline sea beneath (Mr Smith goes as far as describing it as ‘impossibly sapphire’). The first thing that strikes you about this rugged corner of Amalfi is how astonishing it is that people ever came to live here: incredibly steep and impassably rocky, it is mind-boggling to think the Italians made it this far.
A whitewashed stalagmite of minimalist luxury on this rocky edge, Casa Angelina is invisible from the road, thanks to the near vertical cliff-face. To reach it, our taxi twists its way down a road that a limber mountain goat would find challenging. Before we’ve made it out of the car and passed Angelina’s swishing electric doors, we’ve had our bags prised from our dragging fists, replaced by glasses of fresh almond milk straight from an ice-bucket.
On initial inspection, Casa Angelina is how I would imagine Rupert Everett’s house to have looked in the 1990s: all whitewashed walls, clean lines and busts of beautiful women. And this is no bad thing: the Nineties’ look is back, after all (and I imagine Everett’s got impeccable taste). Our celestial casa is an art hotel, and colourful contemporary paintings and sculptures by Tim Cotterill, Gina Nahle Bauer and Sergio Bustamante are bright and intriguing. These fantasy-world bronzes, Murano glass sculptures and papier-mâché figures, if not to everyone’s taste, make for engaging eye-stops between white spaces and cerulean sky-and-sea views beyond.
Our spacious, light-flooded bedroom also has a small, sea-facing balcony, which we quickly take to with glasses of complimentary champagne. Frankly, we are desperate to get our alabaster bodies into the sun – even if it is by now already 5pm. A quick shower in the well-proportioned, very white, beautifully tiled bathroom, and we’re ready for a stroll down to the sea. ‘A hike!’ declares Signor Smith. The walk is worth it. A trip down in the elevator and then we follow the steps down a meandering, olive-tree-lined path to a secluded beach bar. Negronis in hand, we plot up and open the floodgates to some serious awe, inspired by watching the Mediterranean sun sink into that mesmerising sea.
Strolling, and pausing intermittently for a little breath to be stolen, is what mostly fills our time in Praiano. Orange-tree-shaded lanes, an aquamarine-sea-facing church – it’s a landscape that is unspeakably beautiful. We eat our way through Praiano’s handful of restaurants, perhaps peaking with the massive, tasty pizzas from Trattoria San Gennaro. Traveller-beloved tiny towns litter the Amalfi Coast, and Positano, despite being full of Italian tourists and their little pooches, is soul-stirringly pretty and welcoming. Amalfi itself is worth a visit alone for its unparalleled gelato.
When it comes to our last night, our freshly uplifted hearts plummet briefly: it’s too nice here. We’re sad to be departing Casa Angelina, so we savour our stay down to the very last drop by dining at the hotel’s own restaurant, Un Piano nel Cielo. Feeling romantic, full by now with great food, wine and sun, Mr Smith and I plump for the tasting menu and a bottle of delicious local Aglianico. From the off – a meltingly fresh monkfish, juicy pancetta and tasty sautéed broad bean salad – each of the seven dishes is among the best we’ve had on our trip: no small claim in this gourmet’s paradise.
Praiano’s scenery has been some of the most beautiful we’ve ever seen, the food is universally faultless and our hotel is a dream. Thinking back to those initial weekend aspirations, we’ve successfully ticked a lot of boxes. At least 20 oranges were devoured straight from the tree; maybe five chewy yet crispy pizzas were wolfed direct from the oven. Campari bottles slugged? Too many to mention. And as for our trip away… it was one in a million.
Anonymously reviewed by Teo van den Broeke (Mag man, Arena)
Whenever you book a stay at a Mr & Mrs Smith, we'll invite you to review it when you get back. Read what real-life guests had to say in Casa Angelina's guestbook below.
The hotel exceeded my expectations in every sense – beautifully designed throughout, very comfortable room with a lovely deck, great bar area, fantastic outdoor pool lounge area, excellent gym/spa facilities (including indoor heated pool), one of the best restaurants I've been to… I could go on on. The place is to die for, as is the setting. Location was great as well, being close to Positano and yet far away enough to avoid the tourists; the free shuttle bus is a really nice touch as taxis in the are are extremely overpriced.
The service was very good in general, although the front desk staff didn't always seem as eager to help as one would expect.
Ciara, BlackSmith stayed on 1 Oct 2013
Merle, SilverSmith stayed on 11 Sep 2012
Beautifully designed hotel! Cool, white, art displayed in eye catching areas around the hotel. High standards of service, especially in the restaurant - for breakfast and dinner. We enjoyed one of the best vegetarian 'taster' menus that we have had in such surroundings. Spectacular view of the coastline and nearby Positano. We enjoyed the shuttle service to the town- to spend a day at the beach at Positano and also, on another day, to catch the ferry to Capri (only 40 minutes away).
Some people had breakfast included whilst somehow the option from booking with Mr & Mrs Smith did not. Caused some embarrassing moments. There is nowhere else you will be going for breakfast nearby so this is really a silly situation. When you added up cost of juice, coffee, and bread....it almost comes to the full buffet price. Water (basic kind) should be free! Paying €6 generally and €9 at dinner (they do have an extensive water carte) is crazy. I know we can afford this but this feels like we are being treated as gullible. Why do this to cause a frequent momentary disenchantment with such a beautiful place? We drank lots of other drinks so they can make their mark up there. We're staying now at the Grand Hotel Conventina, Amalfi where at least they only charge €4 for basic water! Sorry if this sounds petty but I think when everything else is well done, it takes it from being perfect.
Nina, SilverSmith stayed on 5 Sep 2012
The setting and views are absolutely incredible! It is only a short drive (20 minutes) away from the noisy and busy town of Positano and therefore gives you the best of both worlds. It is also no more than 45 minutes away from Amalfi. They have a free shuttle to and from Positano. The staff are very attentive and accommodating to any wishes. Great restaurant and bar, and great views from both. The rooms are also spacious and fully equipped.
We paid for the second-most expensive room in the hotel and were very dissapointed with the size of the bathroom. For the size of the room, the bathroom was really made for one! For us Americans who like to shower, the facility was at best adequate and it took us a number of tries to figure out a way to keep the water away from spraying all over the tiny bathroom floor.
Robert, GoldSmith stayed on 2 Sep 2012
This hotel is heavenly – it was perfect in terms of decor, service and food. The views are utterly exquisite. The beach at the bottom of the hotel has the most helpful guy running it and the sea is crystal clear. Delicious salads. Honestly it was fantastic.
I think the water list with some at €130 in the restaurant is a bit of a joke, and it's so dark at night you could easily make a mistake. So this was a bit much. Also, our driver to the airport was so fast I had to close my eyes at some points!
Helen, SilverSmith stayed on 12 Aug 2012