Hetty Chidwick visited Monastero Santa Rosa on Italy's magical Amalfi coast, and didn't want to leave.
Perched majestically on the edge of the jaw-dropping Amalfi coast, this hotel and spa, converted from a 17th-century monastery with many of the original features remaining, has just 20 bedrooms and suites.
The weight of history adds to the romance of the setting – we had big plans to visit many local tourist spots, but couldn’t drag ourselves away from the serenity of the hotel.
It’s set on different levels, with the restaurant on a pretty terrace that’s heated in the chillier months, so there’s no need to retreat inside and miss out on the view.
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The thermal spa is designed around the ancient monastic spaces and the alfresco gym overlooking the sea very nearly had me on a treadmill.
This is a place I would return to time and time again, to escape, indulge and find a little bit of peace – or perhaps to visit the 12th-century chapel in the grounds, which hosts weddings.
Rooms from €400 for bed and breakfast, excluding taxes call +39 089 832 1199 or see www.monasterosantarosa.com for more information.
Breakfast here is a veritable feast and includes the juiciest strawberries, fresh from the hotel’s kitchen garden, from which much of the food is sourced.
Chef Christoph Bob serves up the most delectable pasta and fish dishes I’ve tasted in Italy, expertly paired with wines by the sommelier. Request a word with Bob himself and he’ll put together an inspired tasting menu for you.
Taking a boat trip
It’s often the people that make a place and all the staff here are absolute heaven – low-key and relaxed, they’re a far cry from the stiff-collared waiters so often found in five-star hotels.
Ask them about a boat trip with Salvatore from Lucibello Boats, who has ‘more Prosecco than gasoline’ onboard and will take you on a tour of the coastline and private islands (www.lucibello.it).
Around the area
When not on the water, buses are the best way to get around. Take the hotel’s free shuttle to Amalfi, then hop on an open-top bus tour up to Ravello in the hills and visit Villa Cimbrone.
Here, you can potter round the gardens and find the perfect backdrop for a photo on Terrazza dell’Infinito (the Terrace of Infinity).
Into the wide, blue yonder.
A private island paradise only accessible by boat.
A Caribbean world away.