Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is an oasis of tranquillity in the brimming centre of Sorrento, says Charlotte Vossen
Loved by many for its fresh food, photogenic beaches, plunging cliffs and pastel-coloured fishing villages, the south-west coast of Italy really does have it all. One compulsory stop on your way there should be Sorrento. The clifftop town, just a short ferry ride from Positano and Capri, is known as the gateway to the Amalfi coast and overlooks the strikingly scenic bay of Naples.
Surrounded by lemon groves and olive-tree gardens, Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is an oasis of tranquillity in the brimming centre of Sorrento. A private road will lead you from the town square to the three colourful Belle Époque ‘palazzinas’ where the friendly staff welcome you upon arrival and guide you to the opulent reception area for your first slice of grandeur.
Once inside, the palatial interiors really come into full play. Dark wooden furniture complements the white marble floors and antique rugs as the corridors, while the sweeping staircases are dressed with nineteenth-century wall decorations, traditional busts and vintage picture frames.
With 91 rooms (excuse me, suites) spread across three buildings, there’s plenty of choice. If you manage to book a room with a sea view, you’ll win the #instagram lottery, but honestly even the rooms with a more private view of the garden are worth the price tag. What you’ll get in return is a spacious suite that features stunning frescoed ceilings, antique furniture, white marble or solid wooden floors, a lot of brass detailing and a fully furnished bathroom (we’re talking bath and bidet).
Breakfast is served in the majestic (that is the only way to describe it) Vittoria room. The authentic, illustrious wall decorations and windows with panoramic views of the Bay of Naples form the backdrop for an American buffet breakfast, complete with hot and cold dishes, fresh fruit, traditional Italian desserts (there’s plenty of pastries) and homemade jams.
Fine-dining fans will find themselves in food heaven at Terrazza Bosquet. The hotel’s Michelin star restaurant specialises in regional and Mediterranean cuisine, offering an incredible seven-course menu and ten-course menu – set at €110 (about £100) and €140 (about £120) respectively – that include a lip-smacking Sorrento lemon tagliolini with anchovies and a red shrimp carpaccio.
If you fancy more traditional Italian food, then L’Orangerie is your best pick. The poolside restaurant serves beloved classics like pizza napoletana (it’s important to note that the crust is indeed different from a Sicilian pizza) and gnocchi alla sorrentina. And for those who are still a bit peckish at night, there’s always the option of ordering some tapas at the adjoining bar.
You really must
Take the boat to Capri
With a private elevator taking you straight from the hotel’s clifftop location to sea level, it couldn’t be easier to access the charming port of Sorrento. From there, a boat can transfer you to the beautiful villages of Positano and Amalfi, or the isle of Capri, in less than 30 minutes. It’s worth asking for a sightseeing tour of the Bay of Naples. You’ll get a view of the iconic Faraglioni rock formations (the ones featured in the infamous Dolce & Gabbana advert) and you might even be able spot a blue lizard or two.
Book in a spa treatment
Built in a 19th century greenhouse according to feng shui, La Serra isn’t your usual spa. Instead of communal facilities, the hotel offers four private treatment rooms (two double suites and two single suites) equipped with a Jacuzzi bathtub, shower, dressing room and private garden with loungers. The treatments at the spa range from facials and eye treatments to body massages and manicures, using products by Cinq Mondes – a French pharmacy brand that opts for organic and natural ingredients – and Swiss skincare brand Valmont.
Learn how to make pizza
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria offers its guests cooking classes upon request. Dressed in an apron and chef’s hat, you can join one of the hotel’s designated chefs in the open kitchen of the poolside restaurant for a pizza-making lesson. He’ll teach how to make the dough from scratch, the one and only way to layer on the tomato sauce and mozzarella, and the exact technique to get that pizza in and out of the wood fired oven – and you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy your creations afterwards.
Classic Collection Holidays offers 3 nights, 5 nights and 7 nights at Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento from £1,329, £2,409 and £2,709 per person. Price based on two people sharing on a bed & breakfast basis and includes return flights from London Gatwick and private transfers. For further information, visit classic-collection.co.uk or call +44(0) 800 047 1064.