It’s hard to imagine a more majestic location than perched on the Amalfi coastal cliffs, between the green mountains and the deep blue sea – from the rooftop terrace of Casa Angelina, the ocean view spreads out before you like an azure blanket, disturbed only by the island bumps of Capri and Li Galli and the rocky toe of Italy stretching into the horizon. Every fixture, fitting and furnishing gleams brilliant white, solely offset by the wild and whimsical colours of the Murano glass sculptures dotted around the communal areas.
Get this when you book through us:
Champagne and fresh fruit on arrival, a romantic bath on the first night and a Casa Angelina gift on departure
Noon; later check-out is subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £598.68 (€710), including tax at 10 per cent.
Room rates include a buffet breakfast.
By far the best way to explore this famed stretch of coastline is by boat – perfect for spotting secluded little beaches nestled into the cliffs. Hop in the hotel's private vessel – the Master Angelina – which can be hired for half-day or full-day tours with your own personal skipper. If you'd rather curl up in the hotel's lounge, be sure to keep an eye out for some strange colourful creatures made out of Murano glass – Cuban artist Sosabravo's sculptures add a quirky touch to the serene decor.
At the hotel
Gym, beauty and massage treatments, DVD library, free WiFi throughout, shuttle bus to Positano. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD/CD player, iPod dock, iPad, Nespresso machine, L’Occitane toiletries.
Our favourite rooms
Although we do love the views of Praiano from the Grand Deluxe Suite, Junior Suite 401 has to be the most reach-for-the-camera impressive, with a vast private terrace offering 180-degree views of Positano and Capri from the comfort of a luxurious lounger and a unique Duravit Starck bath tub. Two hundred steps down from the main hotel beside the private beach, Casa Angelina’s four airy apartments come with Bang & Olufsen entertainment systems and a communal honesty bar, and incorporate the natural rock of the cliff face into their whitewashed walls.
Casa Angelina has two. Inside the hotel, a heated hydrotherapy pool bubbles away. Out on the decked terrace, a sun-warmed pool is surrounded by white day-beds and parasols.
The hotel’s ‘fitness and relaxation’ area covers both bases, with its smart gym (filled with top Technogym by Citterio equipment) and the peaceful pool, sauna and treatment room for massages and more. Couples can book a room of their own with spectacular sea views. Personal trainers are on hand to help and Pilates and yoga classes are held at sunset (or sunrise in the leafy garden terrace).
Steep steps are everywhere in these parts, so heels will need stowable back-up – pack some handbaggable flats. Pashminas and hairspray will keep your precious tresses in place while speeding along the coast by boat.
Reception can arrange a personal trainer and if you have a room with a terrace you can practice your stretches and sun salutations to inspiring views, with private yoga and pilates classes.
Children over 12 can stay for €198 a night. However, as the hotel's many art-topped plinths and pristine white walls signify, this is very much an adult Amalfi hideaway.
Ask for a spot on the edge of the terrace overlooking the ocean – dining doesn’t get more dramatic.
White summer wraps to blend in – or vibrant-toned sarongs to stand out. Gigantic sunglasses are de rigueur.
Un Piano nel Cielo (‘a floor in the sky’) is just that – a top-floor terrace with yet more amazing views of the Amalfi coast (and Capri). The indoor area is fitted with wall-spanning coast-facing windows, so you can still admire the vista, and has a special lighting system to make you feel as though you're dining alfresco. Although, you could also book a table on the canopied terrace, a privileged perch for sunny breakfasts and starlit evening meals. Ingredients sourced from the Sorrentine Peninsula, and some grown on-site, are crafted into inventive Mediterranean dishes by chef Leopoldo Elefante; and the seasonally updated wine cellar – with more than 3,000 bottles – is overseen by passionate oenophile and sommellier Rosario Landi. The lavish breakfast buffet is something of an event here with freshly baked pastries, home-made cakes and tarts, warm loaves, smoked salmon, cheeses and meats, fresh fruit, pasta salad, an eggs menu and other hot dishes cooked to order.
Take your drink under clear blue skies on the roof terrace; the hotel occasionally holds events here, such as live cooking shows, and it can be booked exclusively for private dinners. Otherwise, be refreshed by many limoncello mojitos in the ground-floor Seascape Cocktail Bar, where the barman Fabio works his magic – our money's on the mixed drinks, but a couple flutes of the hotel's own-brand champagne by Pierre Mignon are equally welcome – pair with a choice selection from the list of sophisticated stomach-liners.
Breakfast is served from 7.30am to 11am. The kitchen closes at 10.20pm, but the bar stays open until 1am.
Fly with British Airways, BMI, EasyJet or Alitalia to Naples Airport, which is a 90-minute drive of spectacular coastal views from Casa Angelina. Hire a car, or take one of the public buses from the station to Sorrento, where you can hop on a ‘Sita’ bus to the hotel in Praiano. Alternatively, the hotel offers an airport shuttle service.
Take the ‘Circumvesuviana’ railway to Sorrento from either Naples or Salerno train station, then the ‘Sita’ bus to Praiano. For Smiths who plan to venture further afield, there are trains from Naples to an assortment of Italian destinations, including Palermo, Pompeii and Salerno as well as the more distant Rome and Florence.
It’s worth hiring a car to explore the postcard-perfect scenery of the Amalfi coastline, but watch out for coaches in high season: there are a lot of them. If you’re driving from Naples, take the A3 (Salerno–Reggio di Calabria) highway and exit at Castellammare di Stabia; then take the SS145 followed by the SS143 to Praiano. The hotel has free valet parking.
The hotel has its own private boats for hire, or you can hop on a taxi-boat at the village dock to explore Amalfi’s secret coves and craggy cliffs from a seal’s perspective. It may also be possible to arrive at the height of nautical style, by private yacht (the hotel can arrange this).
Worth getting out of bed for
Rent a boat from Noleggio Barche Lucibello and take a jaunt to Capri for the day. En route, stop off at some of the natural cave formations, particularly La Grotta Bianca, where you can see a reflection of the Virgin Mary in the water from the cave above. For more landlubberly travel, hire a Vespa and tour the coast in true Italian style. The nearby village of Nerano is famous for its spaghetti con zuchini, so stop there for lunch before heading up to Ravello, the hilltop town famous for its amazing viewpoints. Once you've soaked up the panorama, head back down the hill to Villa Cimbrone, to sup a limoncello in its gorgeous gardens that cascade down the mountainside. Those with stamina to spare can tackle the Path of the Gods: a hiking route from Agerola to Positano, which passes by this stretch of coast.
A two-minute wander from Casa Angelina,La Strada is a very friendly little restaurant, offering fresh fish, good steaks and excellent Italian wines. In Praiano, we also love Trattoria San Gennaro for its fine views, informal atmosphere and fuss-free yet fantastic pizzas.At night, you can dine on the balcony and see the lights of Positano twinkling across the bay. Nestling in a quiet cove, a short boat ride from the hotel, Trattoria DaArmandino, (+39 089 874087) is a family-run restaurant on the seashore with a very local flavour: recipes have been handed down the generations and local musicians frequently come to sweeten the air.
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 the Bay of Naples, 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 free 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.