Channelling the new Mr and Mrs Affleck, here are hotels from Como to Calabria and Portofino to Porto Cervo delivering dolce vita dreams …
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como
Why? With over 100 years of history as the first hotel on Lake Como, this iconic Art Nouveau palazzo is surrounded by a private park and offers spectacular views over the lake and Grigne Mountains from its 90 rooms.
This is where “Bennifer” have just spent their honeymoon and no doubt their stay will inspire others to follow. In fact, in homage to the countless proposals at the hotel, the concierge team now offers a “Dimmidisi” (say yes) offering with a candlelit supper set up in one of the many romantic spots within the hotel …
With five restaurants, three swimming pools, as well as the gorgeous T Spa, there’s no need to leave the premises. But if you do, then taking in the lake on the hotel’s Venetian boats is a must-do. JLo no doubt enjoyed perusing the hotel’s “Sense of Lake” boutique which stocks a range of chic homeware, fashion, and accessories from the likes of For Restless Sleepers, Papusse shoes and Brics luggage. Both she and Ben were spotted dining al fresco – possibly at the hotel’s new lakeside seafood restaurant Giacomo al Lago, though maybe it was at the more relaxed T Pizza …
Book it: Suite Greta, named after Greta Garbo, who loved swimming in the lake. Rooms are available from €700; www.grandhoteltremezzo.com.
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento
Why? Perched on a cliff overlooking the Gulf of Naples, this is the perfect place to soak up the romance and mystique of Sorrento, which is just outside the decorative gates of the hotel. Just 25 minutes from Capri and 30 minutes from Positano, the hotel also is ideally positioned taking in the Amalfi coast.
Honeymooners can hire the property’s luxury yacht the “Vittoria” to sail around the Le Galli islands (where the Sirens tempted Ulysses), lunch at Mariagrazia, a secret Italian hideout at Marina del Cantone, and stop off to bathe in the thermal springs of Ischia, known as the island of artists.
The hotel is a “grande dame” and has been in operation since 1834, therefore rooms and suites are elegant and spacious. Book the Avanti Suite, named after the Billy Wilder film Avanti! Starring Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills, it evokes the timeless romanticism of the film and has sea views of Mount Vesuvius. Guests have a choice of three (posh) dining experiences – the Michelin-starred Terrazza Bosquet, or the more relaxed L’Orangerie and Terrazza Vittoria. The Vittoria Bar, meanwhile, must be one of the atmospheric terraces for aperitivos, anywhere in Italy.
Book it: Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria offers rooms starting from €637 per night with breakfast, based on two people sharing a garden view room; www.exvitt.ie.
Hotel Splendido, Portofino
Why? Much of the allure of Portofino is embedded in the DNA of Hotel Splendido – a former 16th-century Benedictine monastery perched on a hill overlooking the harbour with mature gardens filled with bougainvillea and wisteria. Audrey Hepburn was memorably photographed by Norman Parkinson in its gardens. The hotel was essential to the romance of Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, who spent time here during the filming of Cleopatra in Rome – the hotel’s signature dish, Spaghetti alla Elizabeth Taylor, is dedicated to the actress. As the epitome of la dolce vita, it doesn’t disappoint. I was fortunate to stay as part of a special birthday celebration and loved its old-world glamour, relaxed attentiveness, and gallery of black and white photos of former guests. Rooms are spacious and all are sea-facing. I found the black and white bathrooms particularly impressive (double bathtubs, divine products) and most enjoyed lingering over breakfast served on the Terrazzo restaurant.
Book it: Accommodation starts from €1,804 per night approximately, for a Garden View Room on bed and breakfast basis, which means you want to maximise any visit. Try everything: the salt water infinity pool, spa, and tennis courts, and dress up for dinner at Chuflay restaurant. The in-house pianist provides (cheesy) entertainment at the bar in the evening. Make use of the complimentary shuttle which ferries guests to and from the village (it can be a bit of a slog back up the hill if you walk down) which is car free; www.belmond.com.
7Pines Resort, Sardinia
Why? It’s new, hip and located on the north-eastern coast of the island within the glam Porto Cervo neighbourhood, just a stone’s throw away from Costa Smeralda – one of the most sought-after spots in Sardinia. This resort, which is the sister property to 7Pines Resort Ibiza, has a private beach and club, four secluded beach coves, an 800 sqm Pure Seven Spa, and a fleet of Pershing yachts. The resort’s concierge team can arrange helicopter tours, traditional cookery classes such as gnocchi making; horseback riding through the Costa Smeralda region; e-biking exploration, guided hikes, an archaeological tour of northern Sardinia’s middle to late Bronze Age sites and a Blue Zone discovery trip to learn the longevity-lifestyle secrets of the island among many other activities. As for the rooms, guests can choose from 76 individually designed rooms, including eight junior suites and 20 suites, all with a choice between sea views or beautifully landscaped Mediterranean gardens. These are decorated with granite and white marble from Orosei, local artisan ceramics, and craft textiles from Samugheo to create fresh, airy and light spaces reflecting 7Pines modern and relaxed interpretation of luxury.
Book it: Stays start from €550 per night on a bed and breakfast basis; www.7pines.com/en/sardinia.
Hotel Caruso, Ravello
Why? Palatial privacy and panoramic views of the Amalfi Coast are guaranteed at this 11th-century palace, situated in heavenly Ravello. The hotel features a stunning infinity pool, private beach in Amalfi, a top notch spa and offers complimentary boat excursions and tailor-made tours.
With just 50 rooms and suites, every room is unique, decorated with antiques and four-poster beds. Book one of the Junior Suites overlooking the Bay of Salerno, which includes champagne on arrival, spa and food and beverage credits and transfers to and from Naples airport.
Book it: A Superior Room with private garden or terrace starts from approximately €784 per night based on two sharing, on a bed and breakfast basis; www.belmond.com.
Passalacqua, Lake Como
Why? This (spectacular) private home, owned by the De Santis family who also own Grand Hotel Tremezzo, opened this summer as a 24-suite retreat after three years of restoration and has been wowing jet-setters and critics alike. Standing above the village of Moltrasio, (it’s a 45 minute drive from Milan Malpensa airport) with seven acres of terraced gardens, sweeping down to the lake’s shore, this 18th-century villa is steeped in history, and has hosted everyone from Napoleon Bonaparte to Bellini and Winston Churchill.
The restoration process has been meticulous, during which 24 suites were created, each with their own character and charm. There are twelve suites in the historic main Villa, which celebrates the grand Italian baroque style with original frescoes (there’s also a double height balustraded music room, where Bellini played the piano!). The Palazz or “ancient stables” comprises eight suites with exposed beam work, glossy damask walls and a striking spiral staircase.
Book it: Rates start from €1,500 per night based on two people sharing; www.passalacqua.it.
Villa Paola, Calabria
Why? This boutique hotel is renowned for offering an intimate retreat for newlyweds and those seeking a dreamy break along the lesser-known southern Italian coastline. Dating back to the 16th century, it was originally part of a Franciscan convent, converted into a private home in the 1920s, and then fully restored to an elegant villa in 2000. Stylishly decorated, this is an adults-only escape, where views from one of the many manicured terraces overlook the Costa degli Dei, the “Coast of the Gods”. For spa facilities, honeymooners can head to the nearby Capovaticano Resort for use of the beach club and Thalasso Spa.
Book it: Villa Paola offers rooms from €296 per night with breakfast, based on two people sharing; www.villapaolatropea.it.
Hotel Sassongher, Corvara, Dolomites
Why? This traditional South Tyrolean family-owned hotel is in the alluring town of Corvara, a UNESCO World Heritage site. For outdoorsy couples, this will appeal, especially cyclists. There are over 60 cycling routes to choose from including the Sella Ronda, a ski circuit in the winter. Days at Hotel Sassongher can be spent running along scenic trails, mountain biking and rock climbing. If you’re tired of the usual 10k races and marathons, a new challenge in the mountains this summer is Skyrunning (pioneered by Italian mountaineer Marino Giacometti). The hotel’s mountain guide can take guests along mountain running trails at more than 6,600 feet, where high altitude combined with slopes at a gradient of more than 30 per cent provides the ultimate fitness test. Afterwards guests can unwind in the rooftop jacuzzi and sauna. Every evening the hotel hosts live entertainment, and guests can enjoy local delicacies in a choice of three traditional Stubes, one of which dates to the 16th century.
Book it: Hotel Sassongher offers double rooms from €270 per night, based on two adults sharing a Comfort Room on a half-board basis; www.sassongher.it.
Main Holding Image: Grand Hotel Vittoria, Sorrento; www.exvitt.ie.