Here's the short review...When we return to Sorrento, we will stay again at Maison Tofani! Our favorite spot was the roof-top terrace where we took in 360 degrees of the city skirted by the rooftops of the town with the hills, water, vesuvius and the stars as a backdrop.
Here are more details... (It's long, but we like when people give specific examples, so we're going to do the same. I am not including names to protect privacy, but also because we couldn't single out just one person--the whole "family" is fantastic. Scroll to the bottom for some general tips on Sorrento.):
We measure our stays on: 1) the warmth and helpfulness of the people 2) the services (i.e., welcome desk, cleaning team and/or concierge) 3) the quality of the food and 4) the location of the place to the sights.
Our new friends at Masion Tofani exceeded any expectations we had on all four.
1) We didn't meet anyone who wasn't warm, charming, friendly and concerned with how well our stay was going and how they could make it even better. We were always greeted with a smile. Each person treated us like we were guests at their personal home.
2) Each welcome desk person was more than helpful, offering directions and suggestions, booking a nice table at dinner and other services, and even offering to let us use their computer when we were having problems checking in to our flights from our phones. Our friends at Maison Tofani saved us a few times from our own lack of experience and preparation--without making us feel bad about it -- their sincere "No problem!" was always so reassuring. Our bags were well taken care of coming and going. Daily, they do a nice cleaning of the room and then a separate turn-down service, which we appreciated. We had a few requests which were always fulfilled and taken to the next level. For example, we bought a white wine to drink on the roof-top terrace and asked for it to be opened. They did that, and without hesitation provided glasses and even a bag of ice to keep it chilled. The next night, we sat in the bar area to talk and have an after dinner drink and were again presented with ice and glasses and a few delicious pastries.
3) Breakfast at Maison Tofani is a large buffet that looks exactly like the photos you see on the site, only maybe there is more. Meats, cheeses, breads, ripe fruits, cereals, salmon, tuna and corn salad (really good!) and so much more. The pastries deserve a special mention and we were told that many of the sweet treats were made by the owner! My favorite every morning was a perfectly cooked soft egg on a piece of toasted italian bread with a light drizzle of olive oil and an almond cookie "to die for" for which I would love to get the recipe.
For dinners, we enjoyed L'Abate for fresh fresh fresh mussels and alfresco dining. We enjoyed La Lanterna for our more formal splurge night and it was a fantastic evening... we rolled out of there full to the top. :)
Lunches were usually at a nearby gelato place (we walked off any calories from that!). Just down the way from Maison Tofani is what we describe as an organic/all natural gelato place that we liked as well as a more "famous" place down the other way.
4) Maison Tofani proved to be a great springboard for any activity we wanted to do. It's a 10 minute (or less) walk to the train station for excursions to Pompeii or Vesuvius, etc. and you pass a super market on the way on the right (prices weren't any better than the markets near the hotel, though). It's located within 5 steps of a currency exchange. The pier is easy to get to for excursions to Capri or other places like Ischia or Naples. Positano, Amalfi and Ravello were so much closer than we'd expected. You can do all three in a 9-5 day. Our balcony overlooked one of the most charming street with fresh food markets, gelato places, leather shops, limoncello places and there was even a fish market right around the corner. There were plenty of streets like that around, but we found ours the most charming. One street up you'll find more mainstream shops mixed with local fine boutiques. Maison Tofani booked a great driver for us who we would book again.
One tip: Unless it is very early in the a.m. when you arrive, don't plan to drive (or get dropped off) right up to the hotel because it is on a street that during the day has merchant wares and stands, so the street is too narrow for cars during the day. It's easily accessible by a short charming walk, though, and the lack of cars and motor scooters on the street was welcome and worth the short walk -- our luggage was carried for us. Our room location was great with a balcony over looking the bustling street below - so fun for people watching. The wooden ceiling must be 18-20 feet up so the room felt huge and there are these great big wooden doors you close over the windows to block out any sun or activity from below. We slept so long and so soundly that we almost missed breakfast on a few days. :)
We know our friends at Maison Tofani will read this, so we want to say Hello to all of you and thank you so much. We miss your smiling faces and we look forward to our return. We hope for only the best in your futures! Think of us when you pass through the roof-top terrace--it will be in our minds when we daydream about our trip to Sorrento.
Tips on Sorrento:
The restaurants almost always have someone out front asking you to view the menu and join them for dinner for the evening. They are so nice to you even if you don't go in that you can feel free to stop and take a look at the menus to find just the right one for your tastes. I got the feeling, too, that many of the people out front were the owners. It seemed customary that the owner be present - making sure all is well.
The train/bus station offers an inexpensive way to get around and it is fairly easy to find (when looking at a general map, please note it's entrance is up a short side street on the right rather than directly facing/on the street, so be watching for that side street). It is easy to buy train tickets and make sure to get clear instructions about what platform (binario) you need to wait by. We got help from a guardian angel. We never did figure out ticket validation, so ask your ticket person about that, too.
Three words - Good walking shoes.
Pompeii is huge and well worth the visit if historical sites interest you. We found it helpful to bring water, comfy shoes, sun protection lotion and a hat. We saw one bathroom once we were in the ruins (about in the middle), so while you want to be sure to take care of that by the ticket office before you go in, you still have an option once inside. We didn't do an audio tour or a guide and regretted that. We found ourselves asking "Wonder what that is?" or "Wonder what they used that for?" with no answers. We even had to ask which side was Vesuvius! At the very least, the audio tour probably would have been a good decision.
Positano, Amalfi and Ravello were must-sees for us, but we would not have wanted to drive it ourselves. It's winding and narrow at spots and there are rules of the road that we never could learn in the time it would take, so we suggest either a bus or driver (driver would be easier to stop and get out for photos). If you take a bus, sit on the right hand side (if you are looking at the back of the driver's head) on the way out if you want to take photos of the water, etc). Oh, and look backward from time to time. It's breath-taking.
Capri (CAP ri) - the pier was easy to get to, but once there it took us a few minutes to figure out which place to buy just a ticket over and a ticket back rather than an excursion. If that's your goal, too, find the half circle ticket window building nestled right up next to the pier (there's a restaurant, too) for tickets. By chance, our ticket person suggested a time to return that was later than we thought we would need, but we were glad to have more time simply because of the time you wait for the boat going and coming back. It seemed as though you could come back at any time from Capri (prior to your ticket time) if there was room, though. We ate at Lo Zodiaco and got the Sfilatino which was amazing and different from any pizza we had while we were there. It was a cross between a calzone and a pizza. The host was very nice, the outside dining area was worth sitting there and there was a man there who entertained people by what can only be described as the most creative pizza "juggling/tossing" that I've ever seen.
Long... I know. Hopefully it was helpful.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.