“Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you’re there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone,” wrote John Steinbeck during a trip to the Amalfi Coast in 1953. The American author was enamored with the sun-drenched stretch of Italy’s southern shoreline; his favorite haunt was Le Sirenuse – an 18th-century summer villa converted into a hotel by the Sersale siblings.
It’s hard to think of a destination as effortlessly glamorous – or as beautiful. Just the mention of Amalfi is enough to conjure images of pretty pastel houses peppering the tree-lined hills, the azure waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea shimmering below.
Come summer, the colorful clifftop towns and medieval hamlets are awash with A-list guests escaping their hectic lives for a few blissful weeks. Days are wonderfully slow – perhaps spent taking a leisurely sail to a secluded cove for a swim, or a scenic drive along the winding coastal roads.
When planning your trip, you’ll need to decide when to visit (most Amalfi Coast hotels are open from April through October) and where – Amalfi, Positano, and Praiano are among the most popular spots, but you can also stay on the nearby island of Capri.
Here, we’ve curated a list of our favorite Amalfi Coast hotels to make things a bit easier. From historic palazzos to art deco villas, this is our pick of the most memorable places to stay.
Borgo Santandrea, Amalfi
As the first luxury hotel to open on the Amalfi Coast in 15 years, Borgo Santandrea caused quite a stir when it welcomed guests in April. Perched in the cliff face overlooking the tiny fishing village of Conca dei Marini, the newbie is located within the former Seraceno Grand Hotel. Two Italian families bought the property and embarked on an ambitious four-year refurb. The results are breathtaking.
Borgo Santandrea has just 49 sea-facing rooms and suites – each is elegantly decorated with handmade blue-and-white ceramic tiles, eclectic antiques and bespoke mid-century furnishings. Our favorite is the Deluxe Suite Sea View & Pool which boasts a private terrace complete with an infinity plunge pool (the best place to soak up the panoramic ocean views).
The hotel also has its own private beach at the base of the cliff – a rarity in Amalfi – and a private dock so you can head straight out by boat to explore the neighboring islands of Capri or Ischia.
Hotel Santa Caterina, Amalfi
Our list of the best Amalfi Coast hotels would not be complete without mentioning Hotel Santa Caterina. Tucked into the hillside a short stroll from the center of town, the whitewashed art deco villa has been run by the Gambardella family since 1904.
In that time, Santa Caterina has established itself as one of the places to be and be seen in Amalfi: the historic hotel counts Richard Burton, Brad Pitt, and Angelina Jolie among its star-studded clientele.
Of the 67 rooms, the two ‘Special Suites’ are the most exclusive. Follia Amalfitana features an enormous shell-shaped king-size bed, plus a mini hydro pool and outdoor solarium, while Chalet Giulietta is the most popular for honeymooners thanks to its jacuzzi bath and private patio.
Perhaps most noteworthy of all is the hotel’s culinary offering. Santa Caterina is home to an array of outstanding dining spots including its Michelin-starred eatery, Glicine, helmed by head chef Peppe Stazioni.
Le Sirenuse, Positano
Next, we head to Le Sirenuse in the heart of Positano. It’s easy to see why Steinbeck fell in love with the place: the gorgeous setting is difficult to beat. Le Sirenuse is the brainchild of the Sersale siblings who transformed the property into a boutique hotel back in 1951. It’s still owned by the same family today and has managed to retain the feel of a seriously exclusive private home, despite having 58 rooms.
This is another one of the Amalfi Coast legends that celebs flock to; Sienna Miller, Anne Hathaway and Eddie Redmayne have all been spotted at Le Sirenuse. Each of the rooms is entirely unique; carefully chosen antique furnishings and artworks adorn each space, and the attention to detail is second to none (the white walls are repainted every winter to ensure they remain immaculate).
The top key is the 1,184-sq-ft Two Bedroom Sea View Suite which features a spacious living room and three bathrooms (one with a whirlpool bathtub looking out to sea). When you can bring yourself to step foot outside your suite, there’s also an excellent spa – complete with a sauna, granite steam bath and ice room – and a dreamy restaurant, La Sponda.
Casa Angelina, Praiano
Situated in the village of Praiano between Positano and Amalfi, Casa Angelina is ideal for those looking for somewhere a little quieter – yet equally as picturesque.
This truly is a boutique bolthole; the hotel has just 37 light-filled rooms decorated with a simple white-and-blue color palette that nods to the oceanfront setting. The newly launched Azure Suite – unveiled in April – boasts a spacious outdoor terrace with jaw-dropping views of Positano and Capri.
To get to the sea, you’ll need to take an elevator and climb down 200 steps but it’s certainly worth it. Hotel guests have a dedicated area of La Gavitella Beach Club dotted with sun loungers. The hotel also has a fine dining restaurant – Un Piano nel Cielo – where you’ll enjoy more stunning ocean views and a menu inspired by the traditional dishes of Campania.
Palazzo Avino, Ravello
This pink-hued palazzo was built in the 12th century as a private home for an Italian nobleman. Tucked into the hilltop in the medieval town of Ravello, the hotel overlooks some of the Amalfi Coast’s prettiest fishing villages. If you’re looking for somewhere with Instagram-worthy coastal views and excellent service, this is your place.
Of the 43 rooms at Palazzo Avino, the Belvedere Suite is the most extravagant. Located in the gardens of the hotel, the lavish apartment features a sprawling outdoor terrace complete with a private hydro pool.
The real draw, however, is the hotel’s Michelin-starred restaurant, Rossellini’s (the candle-lit terrace is one of the most romantic spots in Amalfi). Expect elegant dishes built around the area’s incredible produce, expertly paired with the very best wines.
Villa Margherita, A Belmond Hotel, Ravello
If you’re traveling to Amalfi in a larger group and looking to book somewhere for exclusive use, you can’t go wrong with Villa Margherita, A Belmond Hotel. Surrounded by lush green gardens, the gorgeous private villa can either be rented whole (comfortably sleeping up to eight guests) or as two separate suites.
You won’t have to lift a finger during your stay, either – guests at Villa Margherita have access to a private butler and dedicated chef. A short stroll up the road lies the Belmond Hotel Caruso where you’ll have access to the luxury brand’s restaurants, bar, spa, and infinity pool. It’s a win-win.
And when you want to explore further afield, the villa comes with a complimentary shuffle to Amalfi and Positano, as well as a boat excursion around the Amalfi coast.
JK Place, Capri
For the final entry in our roundup of the best Amalfi Coast hotels, we head to Capri – Italy’s ultra-glam island in the Bay of Naples. It’s long been a hotspot for the rich and famous, so it’s little surprise Capri is home to some outstanding hotels.
Our favorite is JK Place – a stunning whitewashed villa set on a rocky outcrop overlooking Mount Vesuvius. For the best views, book the Penthouse Suite; the spacious deck terrace is the ideal spot for watching the sunset with a cocktail or two.
JK Place also boasts an enchanting al fresco restaurant, lounge bar, and spa where you can indulge in a Barbara Sturm facial or simply unwind in the sauna.