Italy’s Amalfi Coast looks almost mythical—the dizzyingly high coastal roads, the sweet-smelling lemon groves, the colorful villages that cascade down cliffsides towards the sea.
It seems fitting that the country’s most gorgeous hotels are also found here, many built in former palazzos, and all of which showcase the best of what makes this slice of the world so legendary. From Michelin-starred restaurants and glamorous pool scenes to unparalleled ocean views, you’ll find it all during a stay at one of the 10 best hotels on the Amalfi Coast.
Hotel Santa Caterina, Amalfi
Couples walking hand-in-hand through citrus groves and terraced gardens. A 1904 villa, dripping with bourgainvillea, whose rooms are filled with family heirlooms, local antiques, and balconies with sweeping views. Two glass elevators that drop 10 stories through bedrock to a private beach and saltwater swimming pool. No, this isn’t the setting of some Bond novel (though we’d forgive you for pretending so). This is Hotel Santa Caterina, where staff, dressed in polos or dinner jackets, know guests by name and where direct sea access gives it a leg up on most other Amalfi properties. Seat yourself at the thatched-roof open-air restaurant, Al Mare, which overlooks the pool, and let your imagination wander.
Monastero Santa Rosa, Conca dei Marini
If you need to escape Amalfi’s crowds, check into Monastero Santa Rosa. Built in a 17th-century monastery once home to Dominican nuns, the 20-room hotel sits isolated high on a rocky cliff overlooking the Tyrrhenian Sea. Those Jetsetters that pay to stay here are duly rewarded: the architecture is as dramatic as you’d expect (arched corridors, vaulted ceilings, furniture from the 17th century), while the heated infinity pool, cantilevered 660 feet above the sea, only adds to the wow factor.
Le Sirenuse, Positano
Steinbeck was staying at Le Sirenuse, only two years after it first opened in 1953, when he wrote of Positano as, “a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” After half a century, the 58-room family-run palazzo hasn’t lost its luster, and still attracts its fair share of movie stars and high flyers who come for the opulent guest rooms (think colorful handmade tile floors, curated antiques, and Tyrrhenian Sea balcony views) and gorgeous restaurant (candlelit come sunset), where air kissing and champagne sipping is still de rigueur. If you can find it in you to tear yourself away, the hotel’s vintage wooden boat is at the ready for guests wishing to sail up and down the coast.
Il San Pietro di Positano
This clifftop hideaway is just a mile outside town, but feels far enough away to attract the day’s biggest stars (Jennifer Aniston; Mick Jagger). Its guest rooms, which tumble down a lush promontory, feel as private as they look, with balconies overlooking the Bay of Positano and interiors decorated with a kind of flashy elegance in the form of gilded coffee tables and 70s-era lamps. There’s a small pool, but most guests skip right over it in favor of the private beach below, reached by private elevator. Lunch is best taken at beachside Carlino, while dinner service (lobster tagliatelle, perhaps, or truffle-coated sea bass?) at the Michelin-starred Zass, on a ledge overlooking the water, is as glamorous as you’d expect.
Villa Tre Ville, Positano
After a life-changing tour along the Amalfi Coast, opera and film director Franco Zeffirelli bought three villas outside Positano with the dream of creating his own private refuge for him and his friends. The result: a gorgeous garden estate, full of terraces and secret walkways, now open to the public. Each suite was named after stars who Zeffirelli used to entertain here—Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Taylor, Laurence Olivier, Leonard Bernstein—and are cinematic stories of their own, full of mirrors and potted palms and rare finds, like mother-of-pearl furniture from Syria. The estate sits away from the town center, all the better for taking in Positano over a glass of limoncello under the vine-draped arbor.
Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello
This former 11th-century palazzo turned 43-room stunner, the hideout of choice for stars like Jackie Kennedy and Humphrey Bogart, occupies the highest point in Ravello—on a limestone bluff with unobstructed views of the sea. Every angle here is Insta-worthy, from the building’s colorful frescoed ceilings and Moorish arches to the rooftop infinity pool, whose waters appear to melt into the horizon. The guestrooms are just as eye-catching, with their mosaic-tiled floors, ancient stone walls, and private gardens. Hop onboard the hotel’s wooden boat (rides are free) to see the coast from a different vantage point, then return for seasonal Mediterranean specialties—seafood risotto with fresh tomatoes; tagliolini egg pasta with clams and black truffle—at the hotel’s Belvedere Restaurant.
Palazzo Avino, Ravello
Palazzo Avino’s ornate 12th-century Baroque palace digs may be impressive—including rooms awash in 18th-century antiques and hand-made tiles from Vietri—but it’s the staggering views of the sea from nearly every room that truly turn heads. You’ll find them when swimming in the heated pool, complete with an underwater window; at the Michelin-starred Rossellinis Restaurant, where nouvelle-Italian dishes and hand-picked regional wines are served on terraces angled towards the coast; and at the rooftop solarium, whose twin Jacuzzis are the answer to your aching-tourist-feet prayers.
J.K. Place Capri
In a whitewashed villa on the road to Anacapri, J.K. Place Capri is every bit as cosmopolitan as its sister property in Florence—but with some island flair. Florentine designer Michele Böna was tapped for the interiors, whose 22 rooms trade Amalfi’s typically old-world influences for clean, nautical palettes and residential-style creature comforts like canopy beds, whirlpool baths, and walk-in closets. The pool scene is expectedly glamorous, as are treatments at the spa, which incorporate local ingredients like fresh-squeezed lemon juice to brighten skin. Cap your day off with a bellini at the bar before a candlelit dinner at J.K. Kitchen overlooking the Bay of Naples.
Capri Tiberio Palace, Capri
Milanese designer Giampiero Panepinto worked a miracle when he transformed this former Marriott into one of Capri’s most fabulous stays. Every detail at Capri Tiberio Palace appears as if it was always so, from the soothing blue-yellow-coral color palette, majolica tiled floors, and travertine bathrooms in its 60 guest rooms to the various vintage statement pieces scattered throughout the hotel (we love the white grand piano in the Mad Men-inspired Jacky Bar). Hit the mojito bar on the roof deck before dinner at Terrazza Tiberio, whose kosher menu section was a first for Capri.
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento
Step into Italy’s glamorous past at this 19th-century grande dame on a cliff above the port of Sorrento. The hotel was the hangout of choice for many a big-name guest, including the Queen of Sweden and famed tenor Enrico Caruso (there’s even a suite named after him). The atmosphere feels just as it did during the Belle Époque era—many of the original antiques still fill every nook, and waiters in white jackets deliver Aperol Spritzes like clockwork to guests on the terrace. JS Tip: The standard Double rooms offer views of Mount Vesuvius; the Classic Sea View rooms overlook the Gulf of Naples.