Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Casa Angelina

Italy

Breathtaking views that rival anywhere in the entire cosmos

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Casa Angelina

Location

Praiano, between Amalfi and Positano on Italy's Amalfi Coast

Travel Information

Airport pick-ups can be arranged from Naples - 1 hour 30 mins
It is also possible to arrange a transfer by boat from Naples, Salerno and Sorrento

Top Tips

A free shuttle into Positano means that renting a car is not necessary

5-Star X-Factors

Arguably the finest views on the entire Amalfi coast

MORE REVIEWS OF
THIS PROPERTY

God's window in Praiano
Eaudesea and far away

MORE REVIEWS OF
THIS PROPERTY

God's window in Praiano
Eaudesea and far away

God's window in Praiano

We had the undeniable pleasure, the outrageous good fortune, to stay in the cool and breezy-white Junior Suite at Casa Angelina in Praiano on the Amalfi Coast. The intoxicating views from here seem to increase in intensity each time we return to this warm, relaxed and genuinely hospitable environment.

Our fun began soon after touching down at Naples airport. A friendly welcome from Hertz provided us with the perfect partner for an Amalfi adventure – a gleaming silver Alfa Romeo. We set off south on the E45/A3 autostrada, leaving Naples with Vesuvius on our left and the Bay of Naples in the distance to our right. Directing the Alfa's pointy silver nose towards Angri, we were looking forward to engaging the mountain passes and views beyond.

This affordable native machine quickly and enjoyably dispatched the twisty journey with Italian flair, while the cosseting leather interior suggested we were travelling in something much more exotic, engendering a real sense of Latin-luxe-trotting. I find this doesn't happen in a Ford or a VW.

The real baywatch

The Bay of Salerno runs from Sorrento to Salerno. It is here, along this particular stretch that we wax so lyrically. Sure, Naples and Sorrento have much to offer, but we have set our sights on this panoramic bay and that, for now, is splendid enough. Based at Casa Angelina, with the Alfa as our companion, we sought out new areas of interest, restaurants, shops, and walked the decline/incline several times from the hotel to the small beach where Casa Angelina moors her groovy speedboat. That's a workout in itself, though there is also a small gym in the hotel with a large central Jacuzzi pool.

En route to Casa Angelina we stopped for lunch at Hotel Caruso to marvel once again at the resplendent setting and unforgettable service. We arrived to find seven Ferraris parked outside, but our Alfa was not intimidated, as its perfectly sculpted lines came in handy in this company. As you can probably tell, Caruso exudes a kind of sensuous luxury, an opulent serenity that very few hotels master. 

Villa in the village

We visited an extraordinary villa, farther down from the ridge on which Caruso sits, though benefiting from the same spectacular views – mountains to the left and the ink-blue Bay of Solerno below. The villa is an 11th century gate house, the first of two 'doors' into Ravello with a turreted allure: stepped terraces off several vista-hugging bedrooms; a large deep pool, shaded at one end by pines; a fabulous manicured lawn beneath a trellised canopy of creeping bougainvillea, and a vegetable garden with a lemon orchid at the top.

Exquisite features of the locale are evident inside and out and makes a perfect base for an authentic family escape in one of Europe's most romantic and picturesque cliff-side towns. Contact our concierge for more details.

Down to the water

The following day we took Casa Angelina's groovy boat, skippered by Giancarlo – a Johnny Depp look-alike – across the Bay, past Positano, towards Capri. It is so magical out on the water, where the cliffs drop their steep, chalky, weather-worn sides into the sea. The landscape appears relatively uninhabited, with only a few castellated turrets dotted in-between, and weathered overhangs create deep caves – a haven for swifts and bats. It feels almost too remote for Europe, but certain clues are never too far away.

Giancarlo dropped us off in Positano for lunch and we dined on the beach in an average bar-restaurant-pizzeria, L'Incanto, as we were unable to get a table at either of our preferred choices, La Cambusa and Buca di Bacco. However, we did discover a refreshed retail rainbow. The cotton is fantastic in this part of Italy; if you dip into boutiques that display grandmother-at-the-sink-style dresses on the outside, you may just find some amazing, more youthful and fitted ones, inside. I did just this at Boutique Rachele on Via Dei Mulini, again, at a fantastically good price and at Boutique Arianna next door. 

Lo Scrigno di Brunella is a quirky fashion boutique with brightly coloured retro-shades, baby doll outfits and some incredible hand-made jewellery. For couture, try Positano's best luxury boutique Emporio Sirenuse, run by Carla Sersale of Le Sirenuse, our favouite Positano hotel.

Positano is busy, bustling, and full of sparkle – like a frantic ant's nest – so returning 'home' to Casa Angelina is quite refreshing.

Cocktails on the terrace, by the pool screened with bulging lemon vines, is a sunset imperative. Sipping an 'Angelina' against a sky streaking an iridescence of chrome, amethyst, damask, rose and lapis and flushing its finale in a dusky salmon-pink, beneath a darkening garter-blue sea, is quite something. Bowls of the juiciest green olives and lightly roasted almonds are just the beginning of the treats in store.

We dined outside on the terrace at Un Piano nel Cielo ("A Floor in the Sky"), the hotel's excellent restaurant, beneath a starry night, overlooking the now inky-black sea. Our  perfect menu consisted of skewered succulent sea bass, pert yet creamy buffalo mozzarella balls surrounded by the sweetest cherry tomatoes on large, intensely-flavoured basil leaves, complemented by a delectable localish Fiano d'Avellino – the best white wine from the Campania region.

A view from the bath

We returned to our junior suite to an unexpected and adorable bath of rose petals and candlelight. As we opened the large doors from the bathroom onto the terrace, revealing our favourite view by night, we could just make out Capri in the far distance. The following day we had an exceptional lunch at the 'beach' restaurant, La Gavitella, down the 200 steps, after a halfway drop in the panoramic lift. La Gravitella is adjacent to the hotels 'cave suites' which are named EaudeSea, due to their close proximity to the waves. These are former fishermen's cottages, now beautiful suites carved out of the rock, but furnished to the highest standards.

At the restaurant, boxes of pink and red geraniums frame the open windows, clashing in true Mediterranean style against the dreamy blue water, local fishing boats, a few brave swimmers, and those glorious cliffs. The menu – simple, fresh and fantastically prepared – completed the perfect seaside setting with lingering appeal.

It was all too soon before our bags were packed in the Alfa's ample boot and it was time to bid arrivederci to our favourite Italian petit-luxe hideaway and its outstanding staff. Casa Angelina continues evolving with every season, shaping and adding, learning and exploring. But what sets it apart from many other contemporary boutique hotels is its unique setting with staggering views, its extremely special service carried out by extraordinarily nice people, and its constant desire for excellence.

It's very peaceful here, but a huge amount of energy goes into this special hotel, named by the enterprising owner after his mother, Angelina. I would like to think that my children could name somewhere as special as this after me. If so, I really shall end up in heaven.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant

Eaudesea and far away

Fred Flintstone lived with wife Wilma and daughter Pebbles in the prehistoric city of Bedrock in a super duper cave dwelling. They were lucky enough to have a fantastical life in a cosy cave, surrounded by primitive but working mod cons together with homely creature comforts. Why couldn't we live like that?

Well, thanks to 21st century wonders, you can live out this primal chimera in contemporaneous 'yabba dabba doo' style. The semi-cave dwellings or 'Suite Eaudesea' are dazzlingly embedded into the mountainside beneath Amalfi's most heavenly boutique hotel, Casa Angelina.

We have watched these abodes, previously basic fisherman's cottages, take habitable lux-shape over several years; a project that adhered to exacting standards, insisting on raising the bar on today's luxury within the folds of Mother Earth. It is no mean feat lugging crates of slate, travertine, marble and gargantuan mattresses down a few hundred stone stairs!

The barefaced rock is no longer dripping with stalagmites, bats and droppings; instead it is lit with magical allure, encasing the cave's comfort with a reassuring cosiness unlike any other luxe-stay away from home.

Cave treasures

The outstanding end-result was well worth the Herculean effort. The sexy interiors combine modern-chic with an exclusive nautical flavour and offer the latest in technology plus remote control almost everything. The tantalising bathrooms blend organic-rustic (potions and lotions in a cut out rock shelf) with state-of-the-art fittings.

The elite yacht style of interiors flatters the airy open-plan of the suites with a littoral refinement; there are no frills, no chintz, no tampering with nature's colours. It's just slick minimalist luxury: smooth whitewash beside textured cave face; seamless fruit and hardwood finishes and fittings; remote control white canvas blinds; suede taupe 'demilune' chairs, and atmospheric halogen lighting. For once too, pebbledash has earned a place. Our suite, Number 4, has a mosaic-lined, round Jacuzzi bathtub tucked within the rock-end of the suite, perfect for admiring its liberally exposed setting. Our boys, next door, found their real home.

The luxury inside the cave-home is sublime, almost a match for the outrageous and priceless vista that stretches across the sparkling sapphire Bay of Solerno, as far as Capri. You can't really better that, or the awesome crimson and slate-blue sunsets, admired from the cave's private terrace. As evening falls, the lambent lights of Positano, together with the entire solar system above, reflect their nocturnal iridescences across the ripples of an ink-blue sea.

While the soothing rhythm of the swell below mounts the rocks and little pier, you can enjoy cocktails or dinner by candlelight on your wooden-deck terrace beyond your door. Or, simply recline on your expanse of glorious white bed, all ears and starry eyed. Fred Flintstone would not have stopped at Pebbles.

The boys are already hardcore Positano fans, adoring the flavoursome, generously portioned meals (we always plump for a beachside table at 'La Pergola' and stay on local course). They also relish the easy joie de vivre, and there's a 'happening' beachfront thrown into the deal. The shopping though, is left to me, alone. What's more, you can arrange to take the boat from Casa Angelina across to Positano, making getting there as exhilarating as arriving.

A few steps down

The intimate service feels much like that from a personal butler, on hand and next door, 24/7. From dusk until late, our wonderful Guido was at our beck and call. Breakfasts, or break-feasts, are laid out in the little dining area within the cave's kitchen, on a wooden table beside a large window that frames the mesmerising sea view. You never escape this view, except when you sleep, perhaps.

The exclusive location of the four cliff-encased 'Suite Eaudesea', several stone steps down from the hotel's dramatic elevator (this is not a stay for the faint hearted) is very private. A few steps down from your dwellings is a small beach, excellent for a real swim. There is also a Casa Angelina guests-only terrace bedecked with sun-loungers and parasols, together with excellent seaside service: iced drinks, olives, almonds, light meals, plus all-day dining in La Gavitella.

This authentic, family-run trattoria – complete with regional blue and yellow tiles amid troughs of trailing red with pink geraniums – is a coastal classic among locals and regular guests. They serve an impressive array of line-caught fresh fish, purchased daily from the brightly-coloured fishing boats bobbing in the inlet below. Signature dishes of grilled crayfish and griddled squid, drizzled in nutty local olive oil and lemon juice, are washed back with some excellent wines from nearby vineyards. This quaint fishing village atmosphere is uncomplicated, un-crowded, marvellously modest, and deeply relaxing.

Up for more

You are also free to indulge in the facilities and fine cuisine on offer from Casa Angelina; that is, if you have the energy for the incline (we always did). The restaurant, Un Piano nel Cielo, has gone from good to excellent, still delivering mouth-watering regional delicacies in their prime, though now the chef is being a little more adventurous, exploring some exotic combinations of Med-meets-starry haute-cuisine. The wines are superbly selected, while the staff is effervescently uplifting, making dining here an all-round pleasure. That view is quite breathtaking too.

Poolside at the hotel is groovy, surrounded by a screen of bulging-to-bursting lemon trees, emitting a citrus scent that clings to the seasonal bouquet of lavender, rosemary and mountainous vegetation, together with that irresistible tang from the sea. It's an intoxicating aroma quite unique to this coastal region and there are few better places to enjoy it than here. The indoor pool with surrounding gymnasium, on a well-serviced teak floor, is great, but don't let your 'Pebbles' loose down there. It leans towards a more polished and sophisticated environment, with a massage room dedicated to de-stress!

I asked the children where they would like to go this summer and they all shouted out 'caves'. I suspect four times in one year is pushing our luck, although, unlike many comparable luxury destinations, our euros would stretch a lot further. Also, it's beginning to feel...well...homely.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer