At a Glance
Built in 1850, the sixty-seven room Santa Caterina cascades down a cliff face to the Mediterranean Sea, just outside the town of Amalfi.
- Picture-perfect outdoor spaces that are brought to life with the sounds, smells and tastes of the Mediterranean.
- Long lunches at Al Mare, one of Southern Italy’s most acclaimed eateries. Try the lemon taglionlini, sea urchin spaghetti and seafood crudo.
- The beach club, offering dramatic sea-level views of the coast.
The Amalfi Coast is one of the most iconic and breathtaking seascapes on earth. Curve after curve unveils a magnificent vista: rugged cliff jutting into the blue Mediterranean Sea. On the side of the coastal drive, just outside the town of Amalfi, sits a dignified white stone structure with straightforward black lettering: “Hotel S. Caterina.” No frills, no fancy approach; a sixty-seven room hotel built in 1850 – long before the rest – and managed and owned by the Gambardella family ever since.
The entry and welcome is old school at its finest; there is hustle-and-bustle in the white-tiled lobby, the ceremonious exchange of large brass room keys, and there are winks and warmth from tenured, suit-clad staff. At first, this bygone-era style of hospitality feels dated and formal. And then, like all good things in life, the Santa Caterina begins to shed its layers. This is a rare breed of hotel, imbued with the kind of soul and tradition that these days cannot be created. Slowly she reveals herself and by the end of your first day, you never want to leave.
Rooms and suites are spacious and traditional in style; all are fashioned with colorful Vietri ceramics, 20th-century family-owned antiques, ensuite tiled bathrooms with Jacuzzis, sea views and outdoor space. Junior Suites in the main building are roomy with large terraces or gardens, and they work well for a small family; while couples may want the privacy granted by the outer villas. The hotel’s three honeymoon suites are romantic sanctuaries, virtually hidden on the property grounds. Once a quail-hunting lodge, the Chalet is perched on its own cliff, accessible through the hotel’s famous lemon orchard (all rooms and suites are unique in layout so contact Indagare for assistance in booking).
Outdoor seaside living is at the core of the Santa Caterina, and the hotel is a feast for the senses. Vines creep along the ceiling of the open-air lobby, coiling and gathering as they infiltrate the main restaurant and terrace, which offer panoramic views of the coast. Exterior walkways are draped with low hanging tree branches, garlanded with colorful, fragrant flowers. An outdoor glass elevator shuttles guests to the beach club, where the wafting scent of fresh seafood and brick-oven pizza emanate from restaurant Al Mare. Everywhere a cool saltwater mist fills the air.
This intoxicating atmosphere hooks guests from the start, transporting them on an emotional journey, which is further fostered by the hotel’s nurturing staff, many of whom have been working at the property for decades. Customs and formality are upheld as they have been for generations and attention to service and guest care is top notch. As most luxury hotels desperately catapult into the future, the soulful Santa Caterina has remained a time capsule – and pulls it off brilliantly.
Who Should Stay
Great for couples and families alike, Hotel Santa Caterina manages to satisfy all types and ages. Book early as repeat guests fill the hotel to capacity during the summer months.
Written by Simone Girner