As far as first impressions go, Capri couldn’t have been any more magical. Glittering azure waves lapping up to the harbour, filled with adorable Italian boats and vintage Riva’s; to the multi-coloured houses upon the seaside town. As loud and busy as it was from the day-tripper tourists, the honeymooning couples and the very well-travelled, nothing can quite compare to the moment you step off the hydro-foil from Naples (completely different scenery) to the shores of this fantastic emerald isle.
If you’re staying at one of the luxurious five-star hotels on the island – which I recommend you do – you will be greeted by the hotel’s representative who you will recognize by the hotel name bearing on their captain’s cap. They will take your luggage and show you to a taxi (all vintage open-top limousines nonetheless) or the shuttle to the Island’s main square, the Piazzetta Umberto. From there, you’re on your own to explore the little side streets filled with beautiful designer boutiques or al fresco restaurants in the sunshine, taking note of the road signs made from vintage tiles.
On the right of the island (as if you were facing back to Naples), only 10 minutes walk from the main square, you’ll find the Punta Tragara. One of Capri’s most impressively located hotels, it is perched above the Faraglioni rockstacks at the end of panoramic Via Tragara. Punta Tragara was designed in the 1920s by French architect Le Corbusier, and owned by none other than Count Goffredo Manfredi, the same Roman who owns Palazzo Manfredi in Rome (take a look at our review here). The hotel has undergone two separate makeovers since 2010 and is now a chic refuge whose design scheme – in which antiques and contemporary touches intermingle – has something of an updated Art Deco feel.
The 44 rooms (which include six suites) come in several different sizes on different levels, as to service the terrain – like the foundation it was built upon. Interior designer Giorgia Dennerlein ensured to make no two rooms the same, but all creates an incredibly relaxing atmosphere with pure white bed sheets, smooth marble bathrooms and many a balcony overlooking the famous Faraglioni formation. Side note: one must order breakfast to have on the balcony one morning – it’s the ultimate delight in sybaritism.
Other than that, the hotel’s restaurants also serve quite the view; the Michelin-starred Mamma restaurant is in the epicenter of Capri town and serves a full-view over the town and cliffs out to sea. We recommend the tagliatelle di seppia con insalate di verdure primaverili (tagliatelle pasta tossed with squid and spring vegetables) and polpo con involtino di scarola (octopus and escarole rolls), two of this chef’s most acclaimed dishes. Then there’s Monzu, located in the hotel which serves up modern Italian cuisine from the young chef Luigi Lionetti, who is a Capri native, and is considered one of the most promising of his generation in Italy.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Island, situated in AnaCapri, in a quieter part of town, lies the Ceasar Augustus hotel, offering gorgeous vistas of the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. A family-run affair, owned by Paulo, who is particularly friendly and always ready to regale his guests with stories from the hotel. Part of the Relais & Chateaux group, the Caesar Augustus is perched on a cliff edge 300 metres above sea level on the slopes of Mount Solaro, Capri’s highest part, offering spectacular views of the Bay of Naples and the Amalfi Coast. A 15-minute stroll from the hotel is Anacapri, a pleasant little town with artisan workshops, cafés and restaurants. Originally the former residence of Russian Prince Emmanuel Bulhak (who placed the statue of Caesar Augustus on the terrace, to this day the symbol of the hotel), the property was acquired in 1930 by the Signorini family and later made into a hotel.
There are 56 rooms and suites, spread out across two buildings. The much sought-after cliff-view rooms in the main villa offer spectacular vistas from all angles – even the bathrooms have large windows designed to draw the eye outside. They’re comfortable and tastefully decorated with classic furnishings (19th-century antiques; 20th century prints and paintings), and some are livened up with a splash of contemporary art. Opt for one of the six suites if you can – the views are stunning. The marble bathrooms have bathtubs or jacuzzis, or if you fancy a swim, the hotel’s infinity pool offers a superb view out to Naples bay.
In-between both these iconic hotels and a bit closer to the Marina Grande, you’ll find the JK Place hotel, a triumph of Italian design: an easy yet sophisticated hotel with sumptuous interiors by Florentine architect and interior designer, Michele Bönan, a gorgeous swimming pool terrace, relaxed wellness spa, magnificent sea views, and one of the island’s most celebrated restaurants in the form of JKitchen; one of Capri’s most lauded restaurants with delicious dishes from Executive Chef Eduardo Estatico. The waterfront terrace deck is an idyllic spot to unwind as you sip a home-made limoncello or a signature JK Spritz accompanied by al dente pasta dishes.
Already dreaming about the second trip.
Originally published for The Sybarite.