Sorrento is dramatically perched on the cliffs of a headland between Pompeii and the island of Capri, affording panoramic views of the Bay of Naples including the dramatic outline of Vesuvius and islands of Procida and Ischia. The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is a proud guardian of the town's past; a luxurious southern European outpost for royalty, musicians and artists to pass the winter on the Grand Tour circuit. Steeped in history, this old-school glamour at its finest; the only purpose-built hotel on the coastline and family run since its inception in 1834, incorporating modern touches like USB charging ports at your bedside and a sprawling pool amid luscious citrus groves.
There are 83 rooms spread across three distinct but interconnected buildings. They range from palatial apartments with private terraces, to a room in the Austrian-style honeymoon chalet built to honour the wedding of Princess Sissi to Emperor Franz Joseph I. Expect oak wardrobes, twinkling chandeliers, sweeping silk curtains in jewel tones, antique clocks and a whole lot of gilt. Living up to its name, this place screams royalty.
What's for breakfast?
Included is a full buffet service and egg station. Notable highlights were the cheeses (so many Italian cheeses…) and cake selection with about 10 different local delicacies lined up to tempt. Breakfast is served in the Vittoria restaurant; a ballroom by any other name with painted frescos and marble pillars to accompany your view over the bay and a pianist to serenade you.
How about lunch and dinner?
If you don't feel like leaving the hotel to explore there's a casual pool restaurant where you can join the chefs behind the bar of the open-plan kitchen to flip your own pizza. Dinner is the main event in the intimate Michelin starred restaurant, Bosquet, overlooking the Sorrento sunset and eating food that would keep both adventurous palettes and traditional Italian nonnas happy. Tasting menus are reasonably priced and served up by local young chefs and waiters who are only too happy to chat to you about the provenance of the food.
Is there a bar?
There are three. From the snug spirits bar to the grand old drawing rooms and winter pavilion heading out onto the terrace with live music. We cannot stress how much you need to watch the sunset on the terrace.
Swimming pool, Michelin-starred restaurant, three bars, pool restaurant, fitness centre and spa.
Things I should know
Take advantage of a lift leading to the hotel directly from the port by taking the 30-minute hydrofoil directly from Naples or booking a kayaking trip.
Within a short walk I can find…
Sorrento's main drag Corso Italia, with lots of boutiques, restaurants and piazzas in the surrounding area.