That’s il mare: Italy’s most wanted beachfront hotels


That’s il mare: Italy’s most wanted beachfront hotels

Simplify your packing list (swimsuit, sunnies…sorted) with these Italian stays steps from the shore

Amy Martin

BY Amy Martin17 May 2024

Amalfi, Puglia, Tuscany…as coastlines go, it’s an all-star lineup. And yet, while holidaymakers’ heads have long been turned by Italy’s cliff-clinging cities and postcard-famous coastal towns, the country’s beaches have flown surprisingly under the radar.

But the tide is turning, with a wave of beachfront boutique hotels giving Italy’s golden shores and picturesque coves their day in the sun. From wave-lapped Amalfi love nests to Tuscan island idylls, swim ahead of the current with our round-up of the best.



Aerial photograph of the hotel on the beach, sun setting in the distance

No one likes a show-off, but when you have all of Puglia’s abundance on your doorstep, you’d be a fool not to flaunt it – and at least Canne Bianche has the good grace to share. Beach-facing balconies with floor-to-ceiling windows direct full attention towards the wide blue yonder; and just in case you had any lingering doubts as to where you should be looking, there’s a telescope in the lounge pointing pointedly out to sea.

Nearest beach

A splash in the pool puts you in sea salt-spraying distance, but you may as well sail past it to the private beach – it’s only a few steps further. Days here are spent cycling through a series of romantic settings: the candlelit spa, canopied day-beds and calm Adriatic waters. But, bike along the coast and you’ll find many more stretches of sand and panoramic viewpoints.

Dine by the sea

For the final flourish, the restaurant puts local produce to lip-smacking use in a menu of Puglian classics – think fresh seafood, silky burrata and hand-shaped ears of orecchiette. Now that’s the kind of flex we can get behind. Or head north to bohemian beach club Cala Maka, which has alfresco swings and cushions to hang out on and a sushi menu with a little Apulian flavour too.


Giglio Island

White washed bedroom and bed with views on to the beach and multicoloured houses on the Cliffside opposite

Ordinarily, interiors cut into sea caves, featuring local handicrafts and custom furnishings and curated by an international design team, would be enough to clinch the headline spot at any hotel. But Giglio is no ordinary isle, and to put too much emphasis on La Guardia’s interiors would be to bury the lede. Here – as the hotel’s chic but minimalist style make sure – the views are the main event. For all La Guardia’s five-star flair, it is – by design – the island itself that speaks the loudest. But, there are other treats in store – in the open-air spa, local flora features in all manner of muscle-soothing treatments. In fact – to further boost the feel-good factor – eco-conscious measures and community initiatives are key to the hotel’s MO.

Nearest beach

On the stony beach, sculptural granite juts skyward; there are flashes of ice cream-coloured houses along the harbour; and, always front and centre, the cobalt waters of the Tyrrhenian. For softer sands, beautiful, sheltered Cannelle Beach is a 30-minute stroll or 10-minute bike ride away, and the larger Campese beaches are a 15-minute drive away on the west coast.

Dine by the sea

At La Guardia, the restaurant’s menu is similarly celebratory of its surroundings, starring heritage dishes from across the Tuscan archipelago – all produce organic and locally sourced, of course. For sweeping harbour views and seafood (red-crab pasta, cod tempura) in a friendly environment, try Trattoria Doria (18 Via Thaon de Revel) and stop by Tuku’l beach bar for a few before-bed cocktails.



Sun beds and towels next to a private pool looking out over the pebbled beach and sea

Look at romantic retreat Capo La Gala and Wellness as a love letter to the Amalfi coast. Interiors nail their nautical colours to the mast with bold blue-and-white palettes and oceanic art – a shell here, a model ship there. But this is no case of marine-themed style over substance – rooms gaze seawards, the infinity pool has heart-pattering bay views, and things get steamy in the sea-green spa, where a Turkish bath and thalassotherapy treatments await. And Sorrento is just five miles along the coast, so in the summer months, it’s all about the hotel’s boat to Capri and Ischia.

Nearest beach

To amp up the amore, the rocky beach was the site of secret assignations between two legendary star-crossed lovers, so the locals say. This stretch of the coast is more about dramatic cliffs than powder-soft sands, but there are sections where scenic sunbathing awaits, say at Spiaggia della Marinella on the way to Sorrento. Otherwise head further out to rocky Spiaggia della Pignatella, where the waters are luminously blue, or hop over to Capri.

Dine by the sea

Out on the terrace, there’s a fine-dining restaurant worth falling for, plus an osteria steps from the shore. But when the sun starts to sink over the Bay of Naples, cosy up in the beach-facing bar with a sip of something Aperol-y – it’s all plain sailing from here. For a Michelin-worthy meal, take a date night in Sorrento for creative plates at Terrazza Bosquet.



The edge of the golf course backing on to the beach with sun loungers and palm parasols

Verdura Resort is the joint effort of hotshot hotelier Rocco Forte and his interior-designer sister Olga Polizzi – talk about high-flying families. It’s fitting, then, that this stylish Sicilian stay has fine-tuned all the fun, frills and five-minutes’-peace sanctums of a luxury family favourite. Grown-ups can slip off to the super-scale spa or one of two championship golf courses, while the award-winning kids’ club ensures Little Smiths aren’t shortchanged either.

For all its fancy facilities, Verdura has held onto much more hush than your standard sprawling resort. Soothing interiors take the serene setting as their cue, and a seat beneath the orange trees or down by the jetty are just as suited to a spot of soul-searching as they are to sunbathing. For maximum seclusion, plus a full sweep of VIP flourishes, plump for a villa.

Nearest beach

A private pebble-strewn beach and those Med views serve as cross-generational crowd-pleasers. To the north of the resort, Spiaggia di Timpi Russi has a run of golden sand and few tourists (although few facilities too), while further along the coast Lido Sovareto has a few more beach-y bells and whistles.

Dine by the sea

Verdura Resort has four eateries, all of them overlooking the water: seafood spot Amare, Sicilian trattoria Liolà, Mediterranean Zagara and laidback breakfasting eatery Buongiorno.



Restaurant table with a cocktail and a sunhat in dappled sunlight over looking the sea

It’s a sad fact, but one we must eventually make our peace with – we can’t all have our own house on the Puglian coast. But before the wind changes and you’re stuck with that pout, let us suggest a stint at La Peschiera as a worthy alternative. There’ll be no fighting for first dibs of the – just 13 – rooms, either, as each one has multiple private terraces and uninterrupted Adriatic views. Breakfast is served straight to your door – if you get service like that at home, spill your secret – but beyond that, the day is yours.

Will it be a wine tasting at a local vineyard, perhaps, or a Vespa ride through the valleys? If you can feel the decision fatigue setting in (you poor thing), seek refuge in the refined seafood restaurant. As for tomorrow’s plans? Might we suggest the tried and true close your eyes and point at the map trick – with so many coves and quaint villages around, you can’t really go wrong.

Nearest beach

This boutique seafront stay has a private sandy beach and seven (oh yes) pools, with an array of sizes, temperatures and joint-soothing jets that would leave Goldilocks spoiled for choice. Or, expand your – sapphire blue – horizons by exploring the many beaches and viewpoints along the coast, from sandy Lido le Macchie to rocky Scogliera di Capitolo.

Dine by the sea

There’s no need to guess where the ingredients for Saleblu Restaurant come from – the great water-y yonder. Catches are used in Apulian dishes such as spaghetti with red prawns and sea urchins with lemon-scented thyme and garlic curd.

Le Dune Piscinas


In south-western Sardinia, where fragrant Mediterranean scrub runs unimpeded to sun-slicked waters, sand dunes undulate over the landscape on and on, and aside from that – although it’s quite the trove of natural wonders – there’s little more. That’s the point of Le Dune Piscinas, a very remote retreat that encourages you to idle. This former warehouse now bears a modern look and is set for quiet pursuits, with a library, ‘silent’ alfresco cinema, spa, bar and many spaces just dedicated to sitting and looking on in awe.

Nearest beach

It’s right there, steps from your room – in fact, the surroundings feel like a sandy extension of it. It’s private and has deckchairs and sun-beds for each guest. And for more aquatic fun, there’s a pool and hot tub too.

Dine by the sea

You’re quite far from the nearest eatery, so there are several on-site to divvy up your dining options. Terracotta-pink Rosso Tramonto faces the dunes and art-clad Il Ginepro has some original features from the building’s former life – but for those winning waterside panoramas, Il Maestrale is your pick – try to time dinner with sunset.

Got the whole team in tow? See our selection of Europe’s best beachside villas

Amy Martin is a writer, actor and travel buff, based between London and Cornwall. When she’s not lurking around a theatre or scribbling in a notebook on the Penzance to Paddington line, you’ll find her at the cinema, on a long coastal walk, or watching Pride and Prejudice (1995 or 2005 is fine).