Maison La Minervetta clings to the cliffs of Sorrento on the Amalfi coast with spectacular views of the Bay of Naples from the pool and sun terrace. All rooms are sea-facing with floor-to-ceiling windows to let in that swoon-inducing ocean panorama.
Spectacular views over the Gulf of Naples, Vesuvius, Sorrento
Sprawling communal lounges, terraces and gardens
Modern and antique furnishings from near and far
A bottle of prosecco on arrival for BlackSmith members; a glass of limoncello on arrival for SilverSmith and GoldSmith members
In the know
Also need to know:
At the main port in Sorrento, where you catch boats to the islands, the hotel can pre-book you a parking space in the underground carpark, which is usually full by 9am. Reservations on request for private beach at La Tonnarella, 200 metres from the hotel. There are stairs direct down to the sea from La Minervetta; be prepared for the climb back.
Nautical but nice attire for sea jaunts: a breton-striped top and some designer boat loafers.
Insouciant summer cool.
Mr and Mrs Smith reviews
So, we're heading for the Amalfi coast, after a detour to Pompeii, which this Mr Smith (no fan of a crumbling Doric column, me) hopes will be brief. My fellow traveller, however, has other ideas, confessing to a hitherto unrevealed fascination with the Romans. Seems he’s hooked on classics, and a whistle-stop tour to tick the history box turns into a marathon expedition.
When we roll up at La Minervetta, all parched and sun-weary, the turquoise-tiled lobby and white walls feel cooling and refreshing. The Fifties villa above Sorrento, which started a restaurant and a small hotel and was reworked by architect Marco da Luca into a boutique hotel, has a prime clifftop position, overlooking the Bay of Naples, that postcard-perfect swathe of the Amalfi Coast immortalised in The Talented Mr Ripley. Steadfastly refusing to turn its back on the bay, the hotel has floor-to-ceiling windows in every room, and its three sun terraces (the upper for cocktails, mid-level for chilling and a Jacuzzi pool on the lowest) are perfect platforms for admiring the panoramic view.
And what a view it is: fishing vessels bob prettily, boats carry day-trippers back and forth to Capri – and you’ve only got Vesuvius in the background to complete the scene. Inside the hotel, the visual impression is of clean contemporary lines. Splashes of navy and red canvas break up the all-over white; freeform eclecticism means European design mags are piled neatly on Indonesian coffee tables; old ships’ maps hang alongside flamboyant modern art; and brightly coloured ceramic bowls overflow with lemons. The overall effect is cosy, comfortable and welcoming – stylish, but never styled. Minervetta's homely yet well-travelled feel is ably abetted by the Dornbracht bathroom fittings, Frette robes and Crabtree & Evelyn toiletries – all boutique hotel classics in their own right.
At sundown, we head to the upper terrace, order a Negroni each, and relax on stripy canvas steamer chairs, gazing lazily across the bay at Vesuvius. Our reverie is briefly interrupted by the faint and very distant sound of raised voices from the harbour below. We strain to hear, and can just about make out that a heated debate seems to have broken out between two fishermen in a single wooden boat. A flame-haired temptress literally wades into the fray to sort them out; eventually, the two hotheads are pulled apart, and retreat to nurse their bruised machismo. We half expect someone to pass the hat round, but this is no show – just a display of Neapolitan fuse-blowing.
It’s all peace and harmony in our world and, suitably clad for a summer night, we trip 300 steps down to the harbour for dinner at Delfino, where the Med laps mesmerically beneath our boardwalk table. The staff speaka da kinda Eenglish you’d think confined to amateur dramatics, but the fresh fish, tricolore salad and jugs of rosato they deliver are authentic, down to the last drizzle of locally pressed extra-virgin.
We skip pudding and join the passeggiata round the town square, seeking our new passion: lemon granita. It’s the ideal street food: refreshing, tasty and low-cal. (Just as well, since over the course of the weekend, we try it from every outlet going.) We can reliably recommend you don’t bother with anything from a machine or a gelateria; for the best, visit one of the street vendors, who’ll shave off a cupful of fragrant crystals from a barrel set over ice. And don’t even think about any of the new-fangled flavours they try to tempt you with. Melon schmelon. Lemon’s the only option worth considering. No point messing with a true classic, after all.
The soft tolling of church bells provides our wake-up call on Saturday. Time for buckets of cappuccino and platefuls of fresh fruit on the terrace with all the other Mr & Mrs Smiths: Swedish architects, French designers and, er, us. What a smart, stylish Euro community we make. We decide to grab an early hydrofoil and head for the island of Capri to sate our upmarket-shopping appetites. We’re not the only ones... The island’s full to bursting with tourists, and MaxMara, Gucci, Prada, Tod’s et al already have their autumn/winter collections in stock, which just doesn’t seem right in such a spring/summer kind of place. We check out the beach shorts in Vilebrequin (beloved of Hugh Grant). I'm sorely tempted, before deciding that €120 is going it some for a pair of swimming trunks (no matter how tempting fuchsia-pink seahorse print is).
That evening, we dine at Il Buco, which wears its Michelin star proudly on its sleeve, and is the undisputed best restaurant in town, for our money. We’re lucky to land one of the sought-after tables outside, and lap up the amuse-bouches, obedient service and culinary twists with everything. The chef’s signature seems to be a scoop of sorbet. There’s a spoonful of iced balsamic with the cuttlefish starter, and a scoop of delicious prosecco sorbet to cut through the lemon and almond soufflé.
Stuffed to the gills, we talk about exploring the town and visiting some of the basement nightclubs, all-hours drinking dens and low-lit piano bars. We’re certainly tempted, but there’s something that draws us back to La Minervetta. We hunker down with a limoncello nightcap or two and leave the blinds up. It’s hard to beat a room with a view of the starlit Bay of Naples and a granita shack just round the corner.
Via Capo, 25, Sorrento, 80067
36.6 mi / 59.1 km from city centre
- Internet services
- On-Site parking
- Complimentary in-room coffee or tea
- Room service
- Onsite laundry
No restaurant: only buffet breakfast and hot eggs and bacon to order. The hotel's dramatic cliff-clinging location means getting to a restaurant involves a steep climb down stone stairs and then a short walk.
On the terrace with a view of the Bay of Naples.
Guests can take drinks anywhere they like in the hotel.