At a Glance
Built into the hillside of the pastel-colored fantasy that is Positano, Le Sirenuse is one of Italy’s most iconic hotels: it embodies this location so perfectly that one without the other is unimaginable. Founded as an albergo in the early 1950s, the 58-suite hotel has been run by the Sersale family for over six decades and exudes the intimacy of a glorious Italian home. Every corner is exquisite (museum-worthy antiques; lemon-tree-planted terraces; bougainvillea-clad dining room), but what sets it apart is the way the creative Sersales (now the third generation is involved in running the hotel) keep innovating. The recently launched Dolce Vitality, a fitness-andwellness program overseen by Antonio and Carla Sersale’s son Francesco, is introducing the next generation to this fabled destination. As John Steinbeck, one of Positano’s original fans, once wrote: “It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you’re there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” Generations of Sirenuse loyalists would certainly agree.
The Standout: The perfect coastal- Italian scene—the Sersales love to entertain and anyone staying here becomes part of the family
Don’t Miss: Fashion and homewares at Emporio Sirenuse, the hotel’s super-chic shop curated by co-owner Carla Sersale and featuring special collaborations, including one with Lingua Franca
- Guided hikes like the challenging Path of the Gods
- Sunset drinks at Aldo’s, on a terrace that seems to hover between sea and sky
- The supremely relaxing pool scene, floating high above the summer crowds
- Hospitality touches, like the self-guided art tour and handwritten weather forecasts left in the rooms
- Dinner at La Sponda, which is lit with hundreds of candles
A Capri local once told me, “Positano is Le Sirenuse,” referring to the legendary hotel that has been expertly run by the Sersale family for over six decades. Since it opened as an albergo in 1951 (in one of the town’s most beautiful private homes), the Sirenuse has garnered an international reputation that precedes any stay here, but it lives up to the hype with Italian aplomb. The 58-suite property is built into the steep hillside of Positano, whose stacked tangle of pastel-colored houses, lush gardens and crumbling palazzos look like a cross between Egon Schiele’s dramatic cityscapes and the colorful whimsy of Dr. Seuss.
In contrast to the frenzied setting—Positano’s narrow streets are eternally overrun and overheated and, for a first-time visitor in particular, can be overwhelming—the Sirenuse exudes an uncanny mix of serenity and elegance; it’s the kind of place where you audibly exhale upon arrival and vow not to leave for the remainder of your stay (it helps that the views, suspended between sea and sky, are stunning).
Many details remind that this was once a handsome private estate: rooms throughout are filled with museum-worthy antiques (guests can take a self-guided art tour, which leads past treasures like a framed passport, issued to a member of the Sersale family in 1754, and a large panorama of Rome dating from the 18th century). The family touch given to Le Sirenuse creates the most impactful and ceremonious sense of place than any other hotel dotted along Amalfi’s coast. The many terraces, patios and sitting areas are lined with heavy terra-cotta pots and urns, which are planted with lemon trees and fragrant flowers.
But even though the decor is classic Positano, with ceramic-tile floors, antiques and tasteful furnishings, the Sirenuse is not stuck in the past, thanks in large part to its dynamic owner and director, Antonio Sersale. Under his guidance, the property has drawn in a chic young crowd with a high-tech spa, a buzzy cocktail bar and seafood grill and the Don't Worry Bar, a discreet drinks-only bar in homage to Martin Creed's neon installation that hangs nearby. There’s Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, and guest rooms come with flat-screen TVs, Jacuzzis and iPod docking stations. Of course, considering the spectacular views (all but five standard rooms open onto the sea), you may forget all about these amenities.
The pool area, on a large terrace overlooking the sea, is one of the most delicious spots for reading and relaxing: sitting on one of the white poolside lounges, it’s easy to feel like you’re on the deck of a giant boat. While honeymooners figure prominently among guests, many of them rarely emerge from their suites; though the lovely staff is happy to arrange day trips, including boating excursions on the hotel's Riva boat, considered by many the only way to “do” the coast (there are few pebbly beaches along the Amalfi Coast, and the one in Positano gets very crowded in summer).
Who Should Stay
Romantics, sybarites, scenesters, art aficionados and those willing to splurge on one of Italy’s most iconic resorts; perfect for first-time Amalfi Coast visitors
Written by Simone Girner