Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Italy

Il Pellicano, Porto Ercole, Italy

Ercole’s most storied hotel, Il Pellicano proves that old
school is new school thanks to lasting charm, sublime food and
unending views across coastal Italy.

Unreachable places are magnetic. Going to the ends of the earth
for a holiday gives a trip a sense of added value. While a stay at
Il Pellicano isn’t exactly off grid (or a graft to get to), the
property’s hideaway status imbues a similarly secluded feel. A
beacon of casual luxury, Il Pellicano is an understated playground
for affluent Romans and VIP yachters who moor here for lunch. Rub
shoulders with longstanding hotel guests (predominantly from the
US) who return every year, often to the same suite or cottage. They
will gladly tell you why they’ve returned here for a second, third
or even twelfth helping of la dolce vita.

Founded in 1965 by American socialites Patricia and Michael
Graham, this cliffside resort was frequented by anyone who was
anyone in the 60s and 70s. The Pucci, Missoni and Fendi families,
the European jetset and even mister Charlie Chaplin all clinked
glasses and nibbled the turn-down chocolates here.

Famed photographs from Juergen Teller (who took a particular
interest in the food) and Slim Aarons (who took a particular
interest in the guests) captured the stylised surrounds. In recent
years, documentary of the hotel and its clientele has shifted to
Instagram. Spot impeccably dressed
‘grammers craning over the quirky pelican statues dotted around the
property and snapping an album’s worth of images along the cement
sunning area on the bottom of the cliff. It seems that here, old
school is new school.


All 50 bedrooms – although of varying sizes and types – share
common aims: calmness and comfort for their occupants. Beds are on
the large size, made up with high-thread sheets and wall-climbing
headboards over which circular mirrors are positioned. The
Tuscan-toned colour palette is muted on the whole, with certain
rooms adding punchy floral prints and intricate tile work to the
mix, while wooden ceiling beams nod to the rustic surrounds beyond
your suite. Flooded with marble, all bathrooms offer both a shower
and a bath – so no need to fight over room allocations – and
products are inspired by Il Pellicano’s locale, with whimsical
names to match, such as “warm summer breeze” and “windswept hair.”
The cottages are well suited to those who enjoy their privacy, with
hedging cleverly constructed to create a tunnel or scrim effect
across the property.

What’s for breakfast?

Breakfast is served between 7.30am and 10.30am in Il Pellicano.
Pastel rainbow pinstripes dominate the decor but scenic as the
breakfast room and its adjoining patio are, nothing quite pips the
food. Breakfast is a sophisticated spectacle offering everything
from sliced mortadella and scrambled eggs with vegetables to
thin-crust pear and almond tart. Basically imagine everything you
shouldn’t have for breakfast but secretly always wanted to eat and
you’re there.

How about lunch and dinner?

If you’re looking for a light lunch or dinner with a sea breeze
opt for Pelligrill. Start with the baby cuttlefish salad topped
with pine nuts, celery and lemon sauce and pair with the Tuscan
panzanella salad, all plated on Richard Ginori delftware finished
with a pistachio scalloped edge (which almost sounds like a
description of a menu item itself). Lunch on salt-baked catch of
the day served with potatoes and tag the pici pasta with Tuscan
pecorino cheese to your order for good measure – it’s one of the
best cacio e pepe we’ve tried. Finish with tiramisu and savoiardi
biscuits for dessert. For dinner, Michelin-starred Il Pellicano is
led by chef Michelino Gioia and offers top-notch Italian cuisine made from the
best organic produce. Seafood is what you should order here – the
John Dory is particularly noteworthy.

Is there a bar?

Yes, there are several. Start off your evening with a Pelican
Martini at All’Aperto. The outdoor space (weather permitting) is
open until 9pm from June
through to September.
Bar Roberto, located in the lobby, serves great cocktails in a
low-key setting, but for something more elemental, why not head to
the beach bar for views of the Tuscan sea and Aperol spritz’s


Grab a sun lounger at the Beach Club, positioned at equal
distance between the sea-water pool and the Tyrrhenian Sea. Follow
with a game of tennis on the hotel’s private courts and, when the
Tuscan sun gets too intense, retreat to the Pelliclub for a spa
treatment or a workout session. Come evening, survey La Cineteca’s
DVD library
selected by Marie-Louise Sció, which is located in the hall’s
library. We’ve narrowed our selection down to anything by Ingmar
Bergman or Luchino Visconti for a post-dinner binge watch.

Things you should know

The Boutique at Il Pellicano is much more than a hotel
gift shop
. Browse a well-edited selection of items by the likes
of Chinti & Parker and Missoni and you’ll soon wish your
suitcase had got lost en route. We’re picking up classic hotel
merch – in the form of the Il Pellicano tote – and a couple of
pairs of bespoke Birkenstocks while we’re at it.

Within a short walk you’ll find

Il Pellicano’s private beach, a cemented sunning area on the
bottom of the cliff. After having your sunglasses cleaned by
attentive staff and downing your morning macchiato, head down to
the long wooden dock which reaches out into the sea. If the notion
takes you, hire out the hotel’s dinghy, which is available for
water skiing and excursions along the coast.

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