Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Belmond Hotel Caruso

Italy

A stunning cliff-top hotel overlooking the crystal waters of the Amalfi Coast

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Belmond Hotel Caruso
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Belmond Hotel Caruso

Location

Perched above Ravello

Travel Information

Naples International Airport - 1 hour (65km)
A private helicopter can be arranged to transport you from Naples to the hotel in supreme luxury

Top Tips

Do not miss out on a visit to Wagner's garden

5-Star X-Factors

The iconic infinity pool sits at the highest point above Ravello, seemingly suspended in the clouds

Caruso in pole position

Belmond Hotel Caruso is the jewel in Ravello's sparkling crown. Since its complete restoration in 2005 it stands firmly first in line on Ravello's 15-starred ridge. Yes, three 5-starred-luxury hotels stand cheek by jowl on this amazing escarpment.

Hotel Caruso has been around for some time. In 1893 it was partially occupied by winemaker, Pantaleone Caruso, and his wife Emilia. At the time, the problem for guests was getting access to the building; this (Italian) peach-coloured gem is perched several hundred metres up, on the edge of a cliff overlooking the Bay of Solerno. Beneath it are tiered groves of lemons and vines and a few precariously positioned villas.

So with such a knock-out view of the sea ahead and majestic mountains behind, Signore Caruso had found the perfect position from where he could spoil his guests with homemade wine, his wine's cooking and mesmerising views. Back then it was called the 'Pensione Belvedere' and, as its reputation spread over the mountains and even across the Atlantic, it was not long before the 'creative' pack honed in.

The Bloomsbury Set enjoyed gathering here, as did many other art movements of the day. This meant the mushrooming of rooms from five to 24, eventually consumed the entire palazzo. Since then, the golden book has been signed by Umberto of Savoy, Anne of France, King Farouk, Atruro Toscanini, most members of the Hungarian Royal Family, Toti Dal Monte, Nobel prize winner Alexander Fleming and many Hollywood greats including Gina Lollobrigida, Humphrey Bogart, and countless politicians.

After the Second World War the celebrities soon returned and Gino Caruso, son of Pantaleone, managed the hotel for several years. It is now part of Belmond Hotel Group, formerly known as Orient-Express Hotels.

Suite with a view

We stayed in a suite with the much-talked-about view and it really was breath-altering. On our bedroom terrace, we ate breakfast while the sun displayed its light dance on Ulysses' Mediterranean below. If that was not enough, we then watched the light capturing the ancient Byzantine columns of the preserved ruins on the grounds beside the most drop-dread gorgeous infinity pool in Italy.

The room was spacious, perhaps even a little nautical in vibe, with a porthole window and creamy tones and a slip-below-the-bottom-of-your-king-size-bed television. The separate sitting room with writer's desk, sofa and indulgent mini-bar also had a small terrace. The bathroom too, was top-of-the-range. Most of the 26 rooms and 26 suites are spacious and sun drenched with must-have sea views, and many have terraces which really is a great advantage if you want to just sit, chill and admire the unique view.

There are two restaurants: the relaxed Pool Restaurant and the Belvedere, with a romantic al fresco terrace for the summer months. The food is haute-Italian and they are more than willing to compromise on rich ingredients if the enzymes desire. The service is impeccable and the barman has acclaimed fame for his strawberry belinis.

The magnificent Cocktail and Piano Bar features a magnificent fresco'd ceiling and more awe-inspiring views.

On a walk-about

Ravello is enchanting. You step outside Caruso's doors and after passing the two five star neighbours, you find the Gardens of Ravello, immortalised by Wagner. Down many steps, the main square, the Piazza Duomo, is dominated by a glorious church throwing out bouquets by the minute with weary onlookers cramming in wedges of pizza. A little farther down and back on the edge, quite literally, is the house that used to belong to Gore Vidal.

Ravello is not only coveted by locals wishing to marry, it is becoming increasingly popular for romantics from abroad and both Caruso, and Casa Angelina in Praiano, are able to arrange weddings here for our members. For the rest of us, the truly romantic setting encorages us to renew those vows.

The Villa Rufolo, where Wagner finally completed Parsifal, dates back to the 13th century and holds performances during the Festivale Musicale di Ravello, from July to August, in the wonderful gardens with a sensational backdrop of cliffs turning golden from the setting sun.

Poolside heaven

Pool life should take up a sizeable chunk of each day, not least because it is one of the most amazing infinity pools in the world, in a truly unbelievable setting. The spa is below the pool area, with tables looking out to the bay. Top beauticians, brought in from all parts of Italy, carry out the body and facial treatments.

The hotel's yacht can sweep you around the Amalfi Coast, feed you on local delicacies, ply you with drinks and drop anchor while you dive off for a refreshing Mediterranean swim. Positano is close, with Capri not much further.

Smooth sailing

In high summer, hiring a car from Naples airport will be a bumper-to-bumper affair along a jagged and hot-tempered coastline. Until the end of June, and from the end of August, however this is an excellent choice as there are several other wonderful towns to visit along the Amalfi Coast.

In high season, we would strongly recommend airport transfers in air-conditioned limos with patient and extremely competent drivers. Of course the sea is another route if your buddy just happens to be passing.

Belmond Hotel Caruso has firmly established itself as one of Europe's great hotels, which would probably make Pantaleone Caruso particularly proud.

Sophie Marchant
Sophie Marchant


Luxury Explorer
Luxury Explorer