10 best beach hotels in Italy
1. Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Tuscany
This spring-to-autumn refuge of dolce vita luxury, created in the 1960s by a dashing British aviator and his American wife in a hidden cove on Tuscany’s rocky Argentario coast, has always been a clubbish, word-of-mouth sort of place. The hotel has upgraded its service, earned a Michelin star, and built a spa under the artistic guidance of style maven and designer Marie-Louise Sci without sacrificing its insider cachet and house-party vibe. Although the nearby hamlet of Porto Ercole draws the Roman and Florentine yachtie set, Il Pellicano remains alone, hidden in stunning natural solitude amongst stone pines and cypresses with breathtaking sunset views down the coast.
2. Hotel Santa Caterina, Amalfi, Salerno
A superlative example of the best hotels, not just on this coast but in Italy, run since 1904 by a family who mix warmth and devotion with professionalism and the highest of standards. Add to that a handsome, intriguingly laid out 19th-century building; standalone folly-suites tucked amongst the gardens, citrus groves, pergolas and arbours that tumble down the hillside to the sea; a glass lift that whooshes guests down to the pool and beach club (the best seaside set-up of any Amalfi Coast hotel), balconies that jut over the water and classic white Amalfitana interiors splashed with Mediterranean colour, and you have an address that joyfully combines personality with glamour and integrity with charm.
3. Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino, Liguria
Housed in a protected Benedictine monastery dating from the 16th century, the Splendido first opened its doors to guests in 1902. Since then Winston Churchill, Clark Gable, Ava Gardner and Marlon Brando have passed through. Expect genteel interiors, exceptional service, and sensational, panoramic views of romantic Portofino harbour and the Ligurian sea beyond. It’s a short walk to the nearby cove of Paraggi beach.
4. JK Place Capri, Capri, Naples
Few hotels are capable of both reflecting the place they inhabit, and at the same time upgrading it. But that’s exactly what this 22-room sister property of two stylish urban boutique hotels in Rome and Florence does. JK Place Capri is the famous southern Italian holiday island as it should be, but rarely is: not a beautiful but fragile island community bursting at the seams with summer daytrippers, but a stylish refuge full of dolce vita class, combining impeccable taste with seaside nonchalance.
5. Le Sirenuse, Positano, Salerno
Of all Positano’s lovely hotels (and there are, for one small town clinging to the hillside, many), Le Sirenuse is the most compelling. Filled with many lovely things, it feels like a mix of living museum of decorative arts and private home of an aristocratic family – which is exactly what it is. The summer home of the Neapolitan Sersale family, it became a hotel after the Second World War and is run today by Antonio Sersale. Over the years it has expanded to include a web of public and private terraces, a lovely pool and top-flight restaurant, as well as cool, heavenly bedrooms.
6. Hotel Le Dune, Piscinas, Sardinia
This hotel occupies the warehouse of an ex-mineworks on the most isolated stretch of Sardinia’s Costa Verde, in the midst of one of Italy’s tallest dune systems. Despite its humble beginnings, it is a typical elegant retreat: isolated, private, and gifted with a beautiful beachfront position. The unpretentious rooms are peaceful and well-equipped, the public areas are light and airy, and the bar and restaurant are quite enough – but it’s the setting that will stick with you.
7. Corallaro, Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardinia
The hotel’s main asset is its location, adjacent to one of northern Sardinia’s most appealing beaches – the Blue Flag Rena Bianca – yet within the busy resort of Santa Teresa Gallura, with its array of pubs, pizza shops, and excellent seafood restaurants. More beaches may be found farther away, including the protected Porto Quadro and the somewhat regulated La Marmorata to the east, and the untamed rocky point of Capo Testa to the west. Corsica may be reached in less than an hour by boat.
8. Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea, Taormina, Sicily
This magnificent hotel radiates subtle elegance, set among subtropical gardens on its own own length of beach on the Bay of Mazzar. The hotel, which was formerly a private home and was built in 1830, has preserved the elegance of a mansion. A heated infinity pool, a private beach with sun loungers and parasols, and a free boat tour are among the amenities (mid-May to mid-September). Water sports are also offered, such as paddle-surfing, which can be coupled with yoga meditation.
9. Masseria Torre Coccaro, Puglia
This family-oriented masseria hotel, set just back from the coast but with its own nearby beach club, is a welcoming sprawl of a place, equally well suited to couples and families, as satisfying for outdoor types or contemporary art buffs (the owner is a collector) as for those who simply want to lounge by the pool. This was originally a bustling rural agricultural village in the heart of a small estate, and the sense of community remains. At the Coccaro Beach Club, you can have an al fresco seafood feast – as well as some good pizzas.
10. Capofaro Resort, Salina, Sicily
Capofaro’s 20 self-contained apartments are dispersed among grapes belonging to Tasca d’Almerita, one of Sicily’s most prominent wine producers, on the Aeolian island of Salina, north of Sicily. The vibe, on the other hand, is far from farm holiday: this is a refined less-is-more hideaway with an exceptional restaurant. The hotel is built on a ledge high above the sea, surrounded by the beam of the lighthouse (‘faro’) that gives the location its name, with views of the distant islands of Panarea and Stromboli – the latter an active volcano whose eruptive firework displays may be viewed at night.