We arrived on the wrong side of midnight in a torrential rainstorm and, when the night watchman showed us to our room, in one of the hotel's two modern annexes, we unpacked, cleaned our teeth and went to bed. The next morning, we opened our shutters and gasped. There before us was the Mediterranean, the Amalfi Coast a larger-than-expected smudge in the distance, and right in front us was a canopy of trees. This, I later learned, was the Palazzo's mature gardens, and the best bit of the hotel by miles.
Every morning we wandered in them before sitting down to breakfast--in fact, any excuse we had to walk through the grounds, taking the long way round instead of the more direct route to the main buildings, we took. The hotel is situated on the edge of Santa Maria Di Castellabate, a picture-postcard Italian seaside town, with a dinky beach that was hosting a 5-a-side football tournament the evenings that we were there, and a promenade where we could sit and have a beer as we watched the sun go down. We hit the town every night as, this being a mid-season trip, there was no dinner provided by the hotel, and ate very well.
Our room was immense--about twice the size of most hotel rooms I've been in, with a wonderful sun terrace and large bathroom, with bath, shower room and twin basins. The flooring--white tiles--was a little bit bare but, hey, we had pretty dire weather for three days. We never saw our neighbours, but it was easy to strike up a conversation with other guests--two of whom we have seen in London since.
The only black mark for me is the lack of a drawing room down at the main palazzo for guests to use. The weather didn't really brighten up until the last few days--this was the tail-end of May, however, and European weather never really scorches until well into June (I should know, I spent a decade in Madrid)--and so we were slightly stuck in our rooms when it was too chilly to sit in the gardens.
Would we go back? Definitely. Not only is the hotel so glorious, with its own private entrance onto the beach, but the town is so much more than the holiday resorts that you find further down the coast--i.e., ghostly--that when you tire of the tranquility of the hotel, you can venture out of the gates of the Palazzo and be entertained on the beach or in the town's bustling streets.
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- Also Known As:
- Palazzo Belmonte Hotel Santa Maria Di Castellabate