My wife and I came to this hotel almost by accident from 23 October, 2013, leaving again on 1 Nov. 2013.
We are relative “oldies” and when we came we wanted to take a break, and also explore the places mentioned in movies from the 60’s that seemed so exotic…Amalfi, Capri, Naples etc. So on this basis we initially booked, not the GHDG, but a hotel in Amalfi, which was well reviewed in Tripadvisor. So we were all set. On reading more, we began to have more doubts about it and having booked via Booking.com, we cancelled. Hundreds of steps, awkward access, miles from anywhere else etc, etc.
My wife then came up with GHDG. Saying how it had really no bad reviews at all…apart from a few from some from years ago pre-refurbishment. So we re-booked.
We had no idea about what the area or coastline were like really, and so it was a big surprise when we discovered the cliffy coast line with hotels perched in unbelievable positions on top of them.
Our arrival was in the dark, so we knew nothing of this, till the next morning opening our window. Speak about scenery. Views perfectly amazing. But as we got to know the area, we realised that the terrain lends itself to hundreds of hotels etc having breathtaking views perched like Tibetan Monasteries on mountain cliffs. OK, so great view. Hotel itself…..full of cool, golden marble…..practical, yet very pleasant on the eye, leading through into the panoramic lounge area or below to the elegant dining room where the waiters drifted smoothly and smartly among the tables and guests.
All the nice things about the hotel, the rooms etc and public areas we found to be true, as were all the staff, so no need to repeat any of that….take it is as read all through this review.
The big issue we think is this, having read varying reviews about the hotel.
It depends on ---
1. Who you are / perhaps your age / whether you want an activity holiday / beach type holiday / leisurely holiday / base / quiet time or whatever.
2. Where you want to be, if you have not checked the location and read about the area.
3. What time of year you were visiting (high summer or Autumn such as we were), whether it was busy or not at the time.
It then can make it unfair to the hotel if it is not the sort of place you expected.
Sorrento is not Ibiza, nor I doubt will it ever be: beaches are negligible, because the cliffs drop into the water for the most part and it is for that reason that it is described as the most attractive coast-line in Europe…(a quote from elsewhere). So you can’t have both albeit that there are some small beaches here and there below….but access can be difficult…..there are few chances to walk out your hotel door and into the waves. So you can’t say, as it were, about GHDG - it is great as a Ski Hotel, pity it is not on the beach…!
We did not see any Funfairs, Waterparks, supermarkets. The area tends to offer its beauties, scenic trips or archaeology.
The hotel is up the hill behind Sorrento and has a great position. Sorrento is about 3 kms. below as the crow flies but about 8 kms. by the twisty-turny roads. So you don’t get the noise and bustle of Sorrento, but then you are not a quick walk from everything either.
The point has been made that it is near a main road (as so many of the hotels are, given the geography and access). The back is…but not right on it: it has its own grounds between. As someone commented, you can hear the traffic if the window is open…but we noted that it did not go on a lot into the evening and was quiet at night which is more than can be said for hotels situated within a resort….delivery lorries, dumpers, returning party-people at all hours of night….you are spared that at GHDG.
Also, on the front (sea) side of the hotel, one gets the echo of the jet-foil boats going off on their cruises: the bay is a natural amphitheatre, and so the big vehicle-carrying ferry was my alarm clock on several mornings ! But otherwise the place feels calm and peaceful.
Further, right outside the entrance gate is the Bus stop…buses are comfortable and going in various directions from that junction. You can go on lots of tours anyway, but, for 8 euros, you can hop on / off the pretty frequent buses all day with a day-pass, so long as you don’t worry too much about a precise timetable.
It became a joke looking at the local cars with their scraped doors and bumpers…..so hiring a car, unless you are an expert driver on these roads with their hair-raising drops and hair-pin bends is only for those with steel nerves and enough cash to pay a large excess on the insurance. !! Further, while driving you would have to watch the road like a hawk, so being able to enjoy the vistas would often not be easy for the driver.
Taxis are ridiculously expensive. So avoid if you possibly can. The hotel provides a free shuttle…many places do not. Some criticism was levelled that if one did not book the day before, one could not just turn up, even if there were seats free for any particular run Later we learned from the hotel, that booking the day before is not mandatory, merely advisory. Also, just as the shuttle does not run if there is no one to take, so it stands to reason that at peak times, one could squeeze in more round trips in the morning, when there was pressure. The coach has about 18 seats…the hotel has about 67 rooms /140 beds….so not everyone is suddenly going to want to rush, en masse, to the same destination all at the same time…..so being flexible about this need not be a big imposition on the hotel or the guests. The hotel is not offering an “on demand” / transfer service….so one has to be fair about what it does offer.
As regards being “nowhere” the hotel is on the edge of a very charming village – St. Agata. It is not a very touristic village although it does have hotels and restaurants and is a functioning living local place where the locals are getting on with their lives if one takes a walk.
Getting to St Agata is a game. The centre is about ½ mile away and as mentioned by previous guests, it is like playing dodgems with the traffic to get along the stretch. So, to make it, there are plenty of gateways and we watched the traffic and scuttled from one to the next….sometimes crossing over to take advantage of gaps on the other side. Once you round the corner where the I Quatro Venti restaurant is, you are nearly home and dry as a good pavement takes you the rest of the way into town. But it needs a bit of figuring out first !
St Agata has several reasonable restaurants.
We had booked bed with breakfast as we like to explore other eating places.
The first night one of us had the set dinner in the hotel (3 choices as set out by others) The food seemed good, if not exciting. So we thought this is not for us, even if the 3 choices changed each night…nor did we particularly go for the “Snack” menu. So off we went to other places in St. Agata. First we tried La Pergoletta next door. Food actually good, until we paid bill….we put down notes to cover it and were asked “How much change do you want back ?” The bill had been around 31 euros and we had put down 2 x 20 euro notes. So we said “Keep It” but the place went on our Black List ! Next night Mimi’s - food really nice and very well presented, waiters pleasant but not in your face or fawning. It became our favourite place.
Next the Stuzzichino. Very good reviews…..but when my wife asked just for soup, and me just a glass of wine along with some pasta… a cloud seem to move in over the waiters head…..so nice food - but blacklist again. Later the reception staff at GHDG defended the Stuzzichino when we were chatting about this…..so maybe we have been a bit tough on them….so don’t be put off by this comment of ours. We were not going to go near the Buenes Aires place, given that they locked in some ladies car and it looked a bit of a dive anyway. Then we tried the I Quatro Venti…..in a rather awkward position on the road, and not with a very cheerful front. Once inside we thought it looked very professional and pleasant, the waiter was very sensible and good and the food again excellent…..1/4 litre carafe of great local wine for 2.5 euros. So another Star. We did not try Don Alfonso’s as that seemed out of our league.
However, the big revelation was this: - towards the end, we started to use the hotel once again…..and at times there was not that much we might have raved about on the main menu. But we saw some of it being served and we thought “This is good stuff” and at a very good price if one compared. Then we saw that the Snack menu follows the pattern of a normal restaurant menu except, being in list form, it is not very obvious. So we found that we were able to put together really nice meals with various elements from the snack menu. We concluded that if one chose the set menu when it really suited OR put together a dinner from the various snack menu elements , one was getting excellent food at amazingly good value and quality….so it is worth close examination as we found out, rather late in the day. So our opinion of the GHDG restaurant went up very high towards the end of our stay. Our favourite remained Mimi’s. But to say the GHDG restaurant is a bit plain is not to give them a chance.
In the hotel, we needed one or two things and the staff obliged.
Really we could not have asked for more from the hotel: we may not be able to go back ourselves…but we plan to twist the arms of our family to go. The furnishings are of good standard and solid. I was amused by the comment of one previous reviewer….who talked about the sliding door into the bathroom….using this to say something like “says it all”…meaning a sliding door is a shabby downmarket solution.
Being a reasonable hand at DIY in my time, I had noted that. Indeed some sliding doors I have come across run across a wall, flapping at the bottom and gaps around the frame – not here. The sliding doors at GHDG are pretty heavy duty, ran into the thickness of the wall and the leading edge into a groove in the frame on the latch side. That is not shoddy stuff: I thought that the people who installed it must have had some real headaches…it was so well designed and functional……so just a small thought on how things can be seen differently. So our thoughts in summary is that one should judge the hotel on what it is and who it can cater to….not to some different spec. that it is not able to meet for no fault of its own. We had a totally delightful stay: thanks to all of staff and the place itself.
PS, we haven't given a rating re fitness centre or spa as we did not use.
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Sorrento
- Grand Hotel Due Golfi Italy/Province Of Naples