Michelin-starred Med cuisine, a Beauty Farm medi-spa, and seaside chic as only Capri knows how. Capri Palace's past is recorded in its vaulted ceilings and columns, now a backdrop for huge sofas and artworks; and the pool, overlooking the Isle of Ischia, where you can nibble on exotic-fruit skewers while wearing oversized sunglasses, sets the tone of Italian indulgence.
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Welcome aperitifs for two at Bar degli Artisti; GoldSmiths also get €50 credit to be used in a single sitting at Ragu Restaurant
68 rooms, including 19 suites; some have private swimming pools and gardens.
Noon; check-in from 3pm.
Double rooms from £653.95 (€726), including tax at 10 per cent.
All rates include buffet breakfast at L’Olivo Restaurant, shuttles to and from the harbour or Riccio Beach Club (subject to availability), entry and sun beds at the beach club (subject to availability), and 10 per cent off at the hotel boutique.
Book a Star Junior Suite or above, and the hotel will throw in a bottle of champagne and a fruit platter on arrival, a tasting of three wines for two at the hotel's La Dolce Vite wine cellar, and free soft drinks in your minibar. (Please note, these extras are only available for guests who've booked a Star Junior Suite or above at the standard rate.)
The hotel usually closes from mid-October to mid-April.
At the hotel
Fitness centre, library, Capri Beauty Farm medical spa. In rooms: flatscreen TV, free WiFi and free bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
The Paltrow Presidential Suite is a huge penthouse with a private circular swimming pool set in a Mediterranean roof garden. Two of the deluxe rooms, as well as some of the suites, have their own private pools and gardens. If you choose a Classic room, ask for one with a sea view.
There's a sunlounger-surrounded pool at the cliff's edge; more swimming opportunities await at the Il Riccio private beach club, close to the Blue Grotto. You can book your free shuttle and sun beds during your stay, but it's best not to wait until the last minute.
Capri Beauty Farm is a highly regarded medical spa that specialises in leg treatments, with wonder therapies to help prevent and improve cellulite and vascular problems and help you put your best foot forward. The treatment menu includes a range of classic massage options and body scrubs and wraps, facials and mani/pedis too. The spa can also provide customised nutrition plans.
Carefully pack your softest cashmere for evenings snuggled up on the balcony watching the sun setting over the Isle of Ischia.
Hire one of the hotel’s two 15-metre Baia motor boats or its 20-metre yacht to explore the Amalfi waters.
One child up to 10 years of age is accommodated free of charge when staying in parents' room, meals to be paid extra.
Elegant L'Olivo, the only restaurant in Capri which has two Michelin stars, is open daily for breakfast and dinner and offers Mediterranean cuisine from Ischia-born chef Andrea Migliaccio. The Ragù bistro is the place for lunch, set on a terrace overlooking the Gulf of Naples; expect amazing spaghetti alla vongole, melanzane parmigiana and a seafood tartare trio from its kitchens. A 10-minute drive away is Il Riccio Restaurant & Beach Club, which has a Michelin star of its own. It's open to the public, so it's best to make a reservation.
The Bar degli Artisti is named after the many artworks that hang on its walls. Expect live music there most evenings. Alongside the restaurant, Il Riccio has a cliffside bar with a unobstructed view of the Mediterranean. Order drinks from one of the maritime-striped sofas on the chic terrace, where a DJ provides a soundtrack befitting of the sunset.
L'Olivo is open for dinner from 7.30pm to 10.30pm. Ragu is open for lunch from 12.30pm to 3.30pm; dinner from 7.30pm to 10.30pm. Il Riccio serves lunch every day from 12.30pm to 3.30pm; dinner is served Thursday to Sunday, from 7.30pm to 10.30pm
You can call for room service anytime from 6am to midnight.
The nearest airport is Naples, which is served by British Airways, BMI, EasyJet and Alitalia. You can hire a car, take the airport shuttle bus, or pick up a taxi from the airport to Naples harbour (a taxi will cost around €20), then hop on the hydrofoil to Capri. It takes about 50 minutes to get to the island (the regular ferry takes an hour); let the hotel know your estimated time of arrival in advance, and you’ll be met on the quayside with a chauffered car to the hotel.
Naples Central railway station (in Piazza Garibaldi) is well-connected to the rest of Italy: there are regular trains to Sorrento, Palermo, Pompeii and Salerno as well as the more distant Rome and Florence. From there, you'll need to take a hydrofoil to Capri.
It’s not easy to drive on Capri. Only hydrofoils (passenger ferries) leave Naples’ Molo Beverello port, so if you want to take your car to the island, you’ll have to take the fast ferry from Calata Porta di Massa instead (linked to Beverello by shuttle bus). And Capri itself is closed to non-resident traffic for almost seven months of the year, during high season (from the Easter weekend to November). If you do decide to drive, leave your car in one of the secure 24-hour car parks near Naples’ ports. Take the A1 (Milan–Naples) if you’re coming from northern Italy; use the A3 (Naples–Reggio de Calabria) if you’re travelling from the south, or the A14 (Naples–Canosa) from Puglia in the east.
Transfers by private speedboat are also available. And for the pinnacle of aerial indulgence, it’s even possible to take a helicopter to and from Naples Airport (the hotel is happy to arrange a transfer, and there’s a helipad only 10 minutes’ drive away).
Worth getting out of bed for
If designer shopping is your thing, head to Capri for Italian designer boutiques. In Anacapri you can find high-quality handicrafts, and the famous handmade sandals. The entrance to the chairlift that takes you to the highest point on Capri is just outside the hotel and is worth taking a ride on for the exceptional views. Become a modern-day Audrey Hepburn and Gregory Peck and rent a scooter. Visit Villa Jovis, the Roman ruins of a sumptuous palace built by Emperor Tiberius. Il Faro is a rocky beach not far from the hotel, which has a restaurant and swimming pool perched on its edge. The hotel also run free shuttles to the harbour, which need to be booked in advance.
Enjoy dinner between the lemon-trees, with food from a typical Capri kitchen atDa Paolino. Sample Mediterranean food on the terrace at Villa Verde. Nettuno (+39 (0)81 837 1362) provides the ideal spot to watch the sunset while sipping an aperitif. Lido del Faro serves fresh seafood delights.
The most famous and popular of Capri's numerous nightspots include Anema e Core in Via Sella Orta, and the O Guarracino (+39 (0) 81 837 0514) tavern, where you can listen to Neapolitan music.
Pizza is not really meant to be the food of love. It’s a convenience thing, a boy thing, even, roughly put together and lacking in sophistication. That is until you get to southern Italy. We’re sitting in the last rays of the setting autumn sun, on a terrace overlooking the main square of Anacapri, Capri’s northern village. Below, Italian signore and cute little white-frocked schoolchildren are strolling between the café tables up and down the steep paved alleys that lead on to the piazza, shouting to their mammas, dodging the three-wheeler Vespa vans that run madcap around the island.
Our terrace is actually a balcony, and a waiter, jocular, gigoloesque but for his girth, is holding court among the tables. He is nodding approvingly at the length of Mrs Smith’s skirt and giving Mr Smith a knowing wink. The beer is cold, the sun is warm and then the pizza arrives. It is possibly the most seductive hunk of dough, tomato and cheese in the world. You won’t know until you’ve been there.
This particular pizza parlour neighbours the Capri Palace, a luxury Capri hotel and the island's five-star flagship. Our arrival off the hydrofoil from Naples harbour (40 minutes), had augured well when the driver swept us off the boat, gathering our bags and shepherding us into quite the strangest and amusing vehicle – a stretch white Fiat Punto Cabriolet Limousine. Yes, really. This seemed bizarre until you realise that everything on Capri is miniaturised, even the vehicles. So a limo is a Punto, a street is an alley, the locals are all tiny and the buses are all mini.
This Liliputian charm gives the island an other-worldly, dreamlike quality, almost as if you’d stepped into the pages of a picture-book. The island is just a series of jagged cliffs connected by hair-raising paths, secret caves, deep-stepped passages and cute toy townhouses set into the cliffside. You take all this in as you are driven from the port to the north of the island, to Anacapri and the Capri Palace Hotel – 'the most exclusive residence on the island’, according to our highly enthusiastic little limo driver.
The hotel doesn’t disappoint. Entering through a draped muslin paradise of trickling water and yellow stone, you realise you are walking up under the hotel pool, which has windows in its walls like an aquarium. The reception leads into a kitsch Eighties bar, which somehow works (and where you can only order martini, if you’ve got any sense of place). Weird Jeff Koons-type art decorates the place – plastic mermaids and a boat made of TVs are just two of the bar’s installations. Fabulous.
Some of the rooms are much more traditional, which is just as well, because a plastic mermaid might be a bit scary in the middle of the night. Egyptian-cotton counterpanes on four-poster musliny beds, sound systems (take your own music), plasma TVs and marble bathrooms all complete the picture. This Mr and Mrs Smith took some persuading to leave the counterpane – the pizza was a rare excursion.
In the morning, the sun streams through the balcony, but check out the ground-floor rooms too, which come with their own private pool. Breakfast is comprehensively luxurious and you can have as much as you like (I particularly liked the overflowing bowls of clementines, picked from the trees outside the window). Room service is good, too, but you must check out the Michelin-starred restaurant, which serves stunning Italian food at a much more sophisticated level than the surrounding trattorie.
In the evening, all the tables in the restaurant, foyer and bar are lit with tealights, and the hotel spills out into the garden beside the pool. It becomes very clear that this is a honeymoon destination. But you must tear yourself away from the hotel, if nothing but for the food, which, as you are in Italy, is sumptuous. The local speciality is a heavenly tomato and cheese ravioli but the mozzarella is full-fat, the Parma ham is delicately spicy, the fish is über-fresh and the olives fat and juicy. Only the Italians have the right to serve food this good – and pretty much all the restaurants come up to standard. There is little to choose between them.
By day, you should do your best to tear Mrs Smith away from the shops (it's a credit-card danger zone out there, with fabulous Prada and Pucci boutiques, not to mention the handicraft shops that make the famous Capri leather sandals, of which she may want to buy an obscene quantity). Do this by hiring a boat and cruising around the cliffs on a blue, blue sea – the water is usually flat and you can do the island in a day. And there are boats for all budgets. You can get a simple fisherman’s barca for next to nothing, or the hotel will sort you out with a millionaire’s gin palace. (Taking one of these back to Naples might be a seriously impressive move as far as any Mrs Smith is concerned).
By night, once you have eaten as much of the delicious food as you can without failing to fit into your skinny white jeans, you can hit the clubs. If you are visiting in season, it will be hard to avoid them – the Italians love to party. If you are there out of season, as we were, you’ll probably end up being much more chilled. Nice.
There was only one disappointment with Capri Palace: we found out, on our return, that they have the most incredible leg spa – no one had told us! Situated at the back of the hotel, it is made up of a series of interconnecting whirlpools and water walkways. As you stroll through the waist-high water, your legs are treated to alternate bursts of pummeling and lightly massaging bubbles at different temperatures. Curative for folk with serious circulation issues, their 'leg hospital' as they call it, is also beloved by film stars about to shoot a scene where they show off their pins. Sadly, this fan of short skirts and would-be Marilyn missed out on the action. Next time. And I’ll be packing my micromini.