Tucked into a cliff among towering pines and aromatic lemon-trees, Hotel Capo La Gala and Wellness is a secluded love nest with sea views at nearly every turn, five miles from Sorrento. Playfully nautical art – a painting of a green seahorse here, a model boat there – bring whimsy to the airy bedrooms, mosaic-lined pool and sea-like spa.
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A bottle of prosecco; guests in the Infinity Room or higher also get fruit and a massage
Double rooms from £623.79 (€728), 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-out.
Rates include a Mediterranean buffet breakfast.
Guests can book the hotel's own boats for two-day trips to Capri or Ischia.
The hotel is closed from late October until the middle of April each year.
At the hotel
Spa, beach club, gym, gardens, DVD library, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar.
Our favourite rooms
We loved Room 205 for the terrific tiles in its bathroom: white but with bright blue splatterings only an angry person with a brush could produce. Its terrace isn’t bad, either – vast, with a spectacular view out to sea. The nautically styled classic rooms are smaller but their sea views just as impressive.
The tree encircled pool is at the heart of the hotel, with wooden decking and rocky path down to the sea. As well as a hot tub, there’s an assortment of terraces, both sun-drenched and shady. A heated pool awaits inside, too.
Aquarium – the marine-themed spa – has ocean-green tiles, an emerald heated pool and coral sculptures, along with white treatment rooms containing paintings of green seahorses – it’s like being under the sea. Treatments include thalassotherapy and hydromassage.
Deck shoes, striped things and an oversized straw hat.
If the waves are over 1.7 metres high, the Beach Club will be closed in the interest of safety.
Baby cots are free for under-twos; extra beds are €80 a night for three to 12 year olds and €100 a night for kids aged 13 and older. Ask three days in advance and a nanny can babysit for €15 an hour.
Beside the windows in the main restaurant to stare out to sea.
Pucci and Prada, worn with a tan.
Nautically decked out in navy blue tablecloths and white Panton chairs, Maxi sits above the pool, with various dining areas inside and out. Open for dinner only, this restaurant dishes up fine flavour combinations, such as tuna steak in herb pastry with caponata and candied tomatoes, and ravioli with caciotta cheese and marjoram. Down by the beach, Taverna del Mare Nerea offers a relaxed osteria-style lunch and evening menu of Neapolitan classics.
Stone-walled, wide-windowed and dressed in navy, the beach-house-style bar above the restaurant wears the sea on its sleeve: model boats, conch shells and wooden decking are everywhere. The long wooden bar is stocked with spirits and the wine list draws heavily from the vineyards of Campania.
Breakfast is on offer from 7.30am until 10.30am; lunch kicks off at 12.30pm and lasts until 3.00pm; dinner is served between 7.30pm and 10.00pm (except Sunday evening, when the restaurant is closed).
Breakfast in bed from 7.30am to 10.30 am. Lunch, drinks, dinner and evening snacks can be ordered from noon to 11pm.
Hotel Capo La Gala and Wellness is in Vico Equense on the Amalfi Coast, halfway between Sorrento and Pompei and less than an hour’s drive from Naples.
The airport in Naples is 30 kilometres away from the hotel. From the UK, British Airways flies from London Gatwick. EasyJet connects Europe, with regular flights from the UK, Geneva, Milan, Madrid and Berlin.
The two closest stations are Scrajo (open June to September) and Vico Equense. Circumvesuviana trains go to Pompei, Naples and Sorrento from both stations. The hotel puts on a free shuttle bus to and from Vico Equense at fixed times.
Capo la Gala Hotel & Spa is a 40-minute drive from Naples, and 20 minutes by car from both Pompei and Sorrento. There’s free parking.
If you're coming from Capri, take the 30-minute hydrofoil ride.
Worth getting out of bed for
Hop in the hotel’s boat and take a trip out to Ischia or Capri for the day. The ancient Roman ruins at Pompei are within a 10-kilometre reach, though be wary of slow-moving traffic in the sticky summer months. Drive along the coast, stopping off at Positano, Amalfi, Sorrento and Ravello.
Osteria Nonna Rosa in Vico Equense is Michelin-starred, mixing traditional decor and flavours with modern cooking. Torre del Saracino serves inventive twists on classic spag bol – it comes with octopus here. Pizza fans shouldn’t miss out on a trip to Pizza a Metro. You’ll be in good hands at Don Alfonso on Corso Sant’Agata in Naples – it’s got a library of cookbooks and a 25,000-bottle cellar. Nearby is Lo Stuzzichino, not flashy or frilly, but the food speaks volumes; try the sea bream, or carb-heavy pasta with potatoes.
What’s the Italian expression for love nest, darling?’ I murmur into Signora Smith’s ear as we stand arm in arm on the beach, watching the sun slowly descend into the Bay of Naples. ‘Because this is one, veramente.’
Behind us is the object of my newfound infatuation, the Capo la Gala Hotel & Spa*, five miles outside Sorrento. The five-star hotel’s 22 rooms and one private suite are beguilingly tucked down a cliff – in and around terraces and rocky outcrops, among lemon trees and soaring pines. We’ve only just arrived but, having seen that the sunset promises to be splendid, we put off check-in and scamper down through the grounds to take in the finale on the strand.
Mrs Smith turns towards me with a look that begs a lingering kiss; I’m seconds from touchdown when an elderly fisherman, who’s gathering his nets just down the beach, calls out: ‘Do you know the legend of Caterina and Antonio?’ Ahem. ‘Where’s the language barrier when you need it?’ I huff, but Mrs Smith pulls back reprovingly and says: ‘Darling, don’t be rude.’ With that, she engages the man, whose name is Gennaro. ‘No, but please do tell us.’ Pointing to a pair of stone stacks, he says, ‘You see those two seagulls that never stop flying from one stack to another? Those are the postmen.’
I stifle a dig at the Italian mail system because Mrs Smith is already rapt. Gennaro continues in his Neapolitan lilt. ‘Caterina was a young noblewoman who fell in love with a fisherman, but her parents forbade this love and locked her in the castle tower. The two lovers wrote messages that were delivered by seagulls, and in the end, decided to choose the most beautiful place they knew of and live there forever in the form of stone.’ He waits a beat and then concludes, ‘They hoped to spread their feelings to travellers…’ A light flush has come over Mrs Smith, who thanks Gennaro profusely, takes my hand, and sets off back towards the hotel. By now it is well into dusk, so I can’t be sure about this, but when I last glimpse Gennaro, I am pretty sure he is giving me the thumbs-up sign.
Capo la Gala has been here since 1962. In 2006, Enzo and Marite Acampora took over the property and renovated it in a style that you might venture to call ‘preppie Italian yachtsman’. The interiors are crisp and clean, a coastal dream of blues and whites, interspersed with daring design touches such as the rectangular navy and burnt orange floor tiles in the Marite Suite, laid down in a rick-rack pattern.
Giant, straight-from-a-cartoon cacti split up the terraces of each bedroom, while palms and pines give you the feeling that you can see out, but the world can’t see in. Capo la Gala Hotel & Spa feels like an exclusive seafarers’ club; here, it’s easy to pretend that you own a yacht and are on shore leave.
The hotel lies just outside the tiny village of Vico Equense, which is laced with narrow streets that smell of clean laundry, orange blossom, lemon and the geraniums that overflow the balconies. Behind the hotel rise the Lattari mountains, named for the gallons of goat’s milk produced by the herders living up there. If you could drive over the Lattari from the hotel, as the crow flies, you would come down in Positano, on the Amalfi Coast.
We are impressed that such a small hotel has a well-equipped wellness centre. The next day, I ask for an appointment, and even though it is the staff’s day off, Signor Acampora opens the Aquarium spa and persuades his masseuse to come in specially. Afterwards, Mrs Smith and I loll about in the sauna and Turkish bath, and then go down to the seawater swimming pool, which is right on the bay. The feeling of being spoiled continues with our visit that evening to the hotel restaurant, Maxi. It has one Michelin star and the young chef has cooked up a menu of rich Mediterranean flavours, with a tangy twist: seven different olive oils, all from the region, are accompanied by just-baked bread.
It’s too bad that we are here in April because from June onwards, the hotel organises daily trips on its own private boats to the nearby islands of Capri and Ischia and down the Amalfi Coast – but it’s a good reason to come back. The following morning is spent in Sorrento, where we sample some of the 100 or more flavours of ice-cream at Gelateria David. Then we drive to Forcella, outside Naples, to lunch on the best pizza in the world (in our humble opinion). It’s served at La Antica Pizzeria da Michele, and it’s a wondrously large creation: thin, crispy, fragrant, and stringy with mozzarella. Although we pass it on the return, we give ancient Pompeii a miss, drawn by the gravitational pull of the Capo la Gala.
After a good interval by the pool, we head back to our terrace, where we kick back, glasses of Campari and soda in hand. As the sea swallows the sun, gradually turning the two stone stacks red, I turn to Mrs Smith and say, ‘Do you know the legend of Caterina and Antonio?’ And with that, she takes up where she had left off the first evening. Thumbs up to you, Gennaro.
*At the time of this review, Hotel Capo La Gala and Wellness was called Capo la Gala Hotel & Spa?.
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