Maybe it’s not feasible to cavort through Europe for months on end on a Grand Tour these days, but former 16th-century palazzo Artemisia Domus Giardino offers guests a short and seductive fling with the lifestyle – after all, it was one of Naples’ first hotels to host these cultured gadabouts, and the likes of Keats and Queen Marie Clotilde of France have kipped here. Sleek minimalism sets a modern tone, while the past whispers through frescoes, stuccoes and aged stone; a just-for-guests garden feels smugly secretive; and a privately bookable spa adds a dash of poetic romance – all very grand indeed.
10.30am, but flexible, subject to availability. Check-in is from 2.30pm to 8.30pm.
Double rooms from £108.15 (€125), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €3.00 per person per night on check-in.
Rates don’t include the hotel’s Continental breakfast (from €9 a guest).
Unfortunately, the hotel’s antique layout makes it unsuitable for guests with reduced mobility.
At the hotel
Garden, concierge and free WiFi. In rooms: 43-inch smart TV, minibar, tea-making kit, bathrobes and slippers, and air-conditioning.
Our favourite rooms
Rooms – all named after Artemisia Gentileschi paintings – have a modern, minimalist look that fits in rather well with the antique surroundings, with white walls, clean lines and oak herringbone flooring. However, traces of the building’s past remain: an ancient stone vaulted ceiling in Giaele, restored and protected paintings in Althea and Betsabea, aged beams in Anthemis. And, if you want to boost the hotel’s wellness offerings, Assuero, Kenzia and Betsabea all have whirlpool bath tubs for two, and rooms from Giaele and up have space for in-room massages (on request).
From sipping herbal teas or invigorating juice shots in the garden to ‘ahh’-inducing whirlpool baths and space for massages in most suites, making you feel good is the hotel’s MO. And, tucked into the greenery, the hotel’s spa sanctuary (open 11am to 7pm) is a very romantic prospect, only available to book privately for up to two guests. Slots are an hour at a time, and there’s a sauna and sensory shower, plus a Turkish bath (€50 for a 90-minute session).
Leave the rubber-duckies at home, bathing here is all about romance. And, bring some Elena Ferrante to quietly flip through in the garden.
The hotel’s garden is designed to stay picturesque come winter too.
Children will be warmly welcomed, but there’s not much to do or any tailored kit onsite. The Family Suite – two connecting rooms – is best suited to older children.
The hotel is conscientious in its conservation efforts. Rooms have water-saving taps, single-plastic use has been eliminated, lighting and air-conditioning systems are energy efficient, LED lighting is on timers, recycling is carried out duly, and the spa uses custom all-natural oils and lotions.
Aperitivi is best served alfresco, don’tcha think? Or step things up a notch by booking a romantic dinner on the hotel’s boat.
Whatever you feel most comfortable serenely swanning about in.
The hotel mostly serves breakfast (although this does gently nudge you out to try Naples’ culinary delights for the rest of the day), but it's a tempting one of cheeses, cold cuts, cakes, pastries, juices, yoghurts, fruit, eggs cooked to order, and more in the elegant fresco-clad, garden-view 18th-century dining room. Simple lunches and dinners (pizza, spaghetti with clams, grilled fish) are available on request only.
Drinks can also be taken in the dining room or alfresco. Alongside aperitivo cocktails there are fine Italian wines, beers and more.
The last meal serving is at 8.30pm. Drinks run from 2pm to 9pm.
You can dine in your room from 8.30am till 8pm on request.
Artemisia Domus Giardino is an improbably peaceful garden-graced haven placed in the bustliest bit of Santa Lucia, just a block or two from Naples’ seafront.
Naples-Capodichino International Airport is a 30-minute drive away from the hotel. Staff can arrange transfers for €45 one-way, or you can take the Alibus to the Garibaldi stop then change to the Acton stop and walk to the hotel.
It’s easy to connect from Italy’s major cities to Napoli Centrale by train; the hotel is a 20-minute drive away. And your nearest metro stop is the surprisingly artistic Toledo station.
You don’t really need a car in Naples, especially in the historic centre (just bring cobble-friendly footwear), but if you arrive on wheels, the hotel has partnered with a carpark 50 metres from their door (spaces available on request) and garage hire for an extra charge. And the staff can help with scooter or bike hire if you want something zippier to get around on.
Worth getting out of bed for
‘See Naples and die’ might be Goethe’s way of doing the city, but Artemisia Domus Giardino’s Roman-rooted Santa Lucia district pulses with life, with pretty cobbled streets and lively eateries just a few blocks from the seafront. Many of those enjoy-before-expiring sites are within easy walking distance of the hotel, such as the 25,000-square-metre Piazza del Plebiscito and the home to Spanish viceroys Palazzo Reale with its lustrous raiment; island-set defensive fortress turned dramatic exhibition and event space Castel dell’Ovo; and formidably turreted (and actually quite antique) Castel Nuovo. Watch operas amid the scarlet and gold grandeur of the Teatro San Carlo (where Stendhal was enraptured – yet again), pick up luxurious souvenirs along the 19th-century shopping arcade Galleria Umberto I (the concierge can arrange for a personal shopper if desired), and see what lies beneath on an archaeologist-led tour of Naples’ underground tunnels. Alternatively, glide along the Gulf on a private motorboat ride, or romantic offshore meal for two, or launch off from Beverello Pier on an island-hopping expedition through Ischia, Procida, Capri, Ventotene, and Ponza. A metro stop might not be among your must-sees, but Toledo station, designed by Spanish architect Óscar Tusquets, has been called the world’s most beautiful, with artworks by William Kentridge and more. Disembark here to explore the Spanish Quarter, or journey out a little further for the spectacular views from hillside ‘hood Vomero, home to Castel Sant’Elmo. Seek out narrow Spaccanapoli to explore traditional artisan workshops, and if you’re visiting at Christmas head to San Gregorio Armeno for uniquely crafted nativity scenes. Dip into past culture at the National Archaeological Museum, palatial Certosa di San Martino and San Severo Chapel; then see future creative talents at Museo PAN. And, the hotel can arrange day trips to Herculaneum and Pompeii, or entertain you onsite, with cookery classes and in-room massages.
When in Rome, order carbonara; when in Naples, it’s practically illegal not to have at least a slice of pizza. You have your pick of pies here – try kept-in-the-family Da Attilio, whose chef is an expert on wines too; L’Antica Pizzeria da Michele, which has been dishing up doughy delights since 1906; or Starita, whose simple marinara is a favourite, but who are also known for more out-there eats like ‘Maradona’s horns’ (rolled dough filled with lard and ricotta) and fritti pizzas. Or curb your carb-loading at Palazzo Petrucci, a romantic waterfront eatery that excels in surf and turf; but we advise giving the chef free-reign in a multi-course menu. Naturally, given Naples position, seafood is a speciality too – Officina del Mar is an unpretentious nautical spot for cracking claws and peeling jumbo prawns, or going the more genteel route: trucking into smoked-cuttlefish ravioli dusted with plankton powder, or branzino in a lemon roux with fried leek chips.
Pasticceria Popella has been serving the sweet of tooth since 1920, and is best known for its ‘snowflakes’ (brioches filled with a light mixture of ricotta and milk). But there are sugary confections for all sorts here. And Barrio Botanico is a stylish spot for charcuterie boards, light lunches and a few cocktails later on in the day, set to light piano music.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this pit-stop-on-the-Grand-Tour palazzo close to Naples’ coast after eating their fill of pizza and leaving their ex votos in a local church, a full account of their leafy laidback break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Artemisia Domus Giardino at Italy’s toe…
Don’t judge a book by its cover, and don’t judge a luxury hotel by its needs-some-TLC façade – Artemisia Domus Giardino might not immediately wow in Naples’ lively, close-to-the-coast Santa Lucia neighbourhood, but on entering there’s a world not just worthy of Grand Tour-takers, but was in fact one of the first of the city’s hotels to cater to these cultured cavorters. Hospitable since the 16th century, Palazzo d’Alessandro Pescolancian is gracious and green with an interior garden for guests only that feels like a closely guarded secret. Keats kipped here when it was briefly the Black Angel inn, it’s where Queen Marie Clotilde of France hung her powdered wigs (and later expired) here, and many a party and ball have passed through. Its latest look is box-fresh minimalism in crisp white, but there’s grandeur still, with restored frescoes in Pompeiian hues, protected paintings on the walls, intricate stuccos, a monumental staircase threading through, and rooms named for Artemisia Gentileschi paintings. And, a garden-set spa and whirlpool bath tubs for two in most rooms give it the indulgent swagger of a 17th-century poet. Look for the time-worn frontage and find something timeless within.