Location: Praiano, close to Positano on Italy’s stunning Amalfi Coast.
Style: Modern and minimalist small-scale luxury hotel with a focus on devoted service for every guest.
Perfect for: A romantic, high-end holiday in one of the world’s most glamorous destinations.
Price: The hotel opens from April to October, with prices ranging from €625 ($1107) up to €2500 ($4427) per night, depending on season.
First impressions: Our transfer from Salerno, a gritty port town that is the gateway to the Amalfi Coast, had taken two and a half hours, thanks to bad weather and some traffic jams along the winding cliff-edge roads between the Amalfi Coast’s towns. But all stress of the journey quickly disappeared as we got out of the car – a team of Casa Angelina staff appeared to whisk away our luggage and escorted us to the door under white umbrellas. Inside the lobby, we were treated to an effusive welcome, with easy check-in accompanied by the offer of complimentary flavoured sparkling water (Amalfi lemon and mint). Featuring white-washed walls and an abundance of windows looking out to sea, the hotel is modern and intimate, with only 37 rooms. The staff-to-guest ratio is almost 2:1, meaning you can be assured there’s always someone around to tend to your every need.
We were given a quick tour of the hotel’s public spaces, which are full of modern and abstract art - most notably a series of Murano glass sculptures by Cuban artist Alfredo Sisabravo and oil paintings by Argentinian artist Patricia Valencia Carstens. They won’t be to everyone’s taste - they certainly weren’t to mine! - but they’ll definitely be a talking point.
Rooms: On the third of four floors, our room – like much of the rest of the hotel – was a bright white space, with unadorned walls and white herringbone tiled floors. The absence of colour directs your gaze out to the view – a perfect sweep of the Tyrrhenian Sea and the curving cliffs leading along the Amalfi coastline. Even better, an uninterrupted view of Positano, the pretty pastel-coloured houses and hotels climbing up the cliffs like a tower of licorice allsorts. Even on rainy days, which unfortunately were the only days we had on our visit, the light was stunning and the view absolutely mesmerising. The small balcony with a table and two chairs was the ideal spot for watching the sea and breathing the fresh air.
The room was compact but comfortable, with divine memory foam mattresses and pillows, high thread count linen, and tasteful lighting. All the amenities were high spec – like a Bang & Olufsen TV, Nespresso machine, in-room information on an iPad, and lighting controlled by electronic panels by the bed.
My only gripe was there were no USB charging ports by the bed – these usually come as standard in luxury hotels these days and it’s annoying when they’re not there – and a lack of storage for two people travelling together. We felt particularly messy because there wasn’t enough space to put everything.
Turn-down service was a delight – each night we received chocolates, glass bottles of water, a Casa Angelina-branded silk eye mask, and L’Occitane pillow mist and hand cream.
Bathroom: Again, a relatively small space, but everything you need – shower over bath, toilet, bidet, sink and white cotton robes. Toiletries were L’Occitane and Malin & Goetz.
Food and drink: The hotel prides itself on its fine-dining offering but it’s important to note that things are very expensive – €10 euro for a bottle of water, €20 for a glass of wine, €30 for a cocktail, €35 for a club sandwich … if you plan to eat and drink only at the hotel, you’re going to rack up quite the bill. However, the standard is high, and you should absolutely book a dinner at the fourth-floor fine-dining restaurant Un Piano de Cielo, if only to sample the freshly baked bread. My travelling companion, Deb, said it was the best bread she’d ever eaten and I really have to agree. We enjoyed a four-course a la carte dinner, featuring seafood, handmade pasta from the local Gragnano region, and many complimentary extras, like miniature tuna tacos and guacamole spring rolls, and refreshing petits fours made from Amalfi lemon cream and an “osmosis” of pears.
Breakfast is served daily from 7am-11am and it’s a feast for the senses – an array of fruit, granola, juices, freshly baked breads, tortillas, frittatas and incredible patisserie treats, as well as flavourful fresh tomatoes, prosciutto and local cheeses. You can also order eggs, omelettes and pancakes, and wash it all down with a fresh juice (although the juice is the only thing you’ll pay extra for at breakfast, at a cost of €20).
Make sure you treat yourself to an evening cocktail, wine or aperitif in the Seascape bar – yes, it’s pricey, but in the great Italian tradition, it’s served with a selection of complimentary snacks. At Casa Angelina, this is more than just a bowl of nuts (although you’ll get that too) – we were served arancini, sashimi, olives, chips, and a delicate ricotta pancake.
Facilities: A beautiful selection of coffee-table books and daily international newspapers are available to borrow in the business centre. The fitness centre has a small selection of machines and equipment, and there’s an indoor heated pool and sauna if you want to have a day of pampering. The weather was terrible on our visit, but on good days you can enjoy the outdoor pool or the hotel’s private beach club – down an elevator and 250 steps.
Service: Kiwi guests should take note of the 2:1 staff-to-guest ratio because it could be something that either makes or breaks your stay. All of the staff were incredibly friendly, efficient and eager to please but for our stay, when there were few other guests around, it was a bit much. It felt like we were being watched at all times, in order to anticipate and action our every need. Some people will enjoy that level of attentiveness, but I found it a little suffocating. For example, going down to use the gym, I was the only guest there, but there were two staff members, just standing quietly in the small space. Not talking to each other, not talking to me, just ... there. At breakfast one morning, I was literally in the process of bringing a forkful of food to my mouth, and a waitress stood next to me and placed another knife and fork on either side of my plate. I guess just in case I needed fresh cutlery for every mouthful? It was a little overwhelming for me, but I’m sure there are many guests who would appreciate being so well taken care of.
In the neighbourhood: Praiano is in between Amalfi and Positano, both about 25 minutes’ drive away. Skip the terrifying ordeal of joining a crammed public bus juddering along the winding clifftop roads and instead take advantage of the hotel’s free luxury shuttle minivan, which departs from the hotel to Positano every hour. Or, if you want to avoid Positano’s crowds, talk to the hotel’s concierge, who will give you tips for exploring Praiano itself, where you’ll find shops, cafes, bars, restaurants and beaches, churches and a more authentic vibe than the more well-known tourist towns. Cheaper food and drinks prices than the hotel too, I’d imagine.
Family friendly: Casa Angelina is only for adults and children older than 12.
Accessibility: The hotel is not recommended for guests with accessibility needs, and the Amalfi Coast itself could be a challenging destination for those with mobility issues.
Sustainability: Casa Angelina’s environmental initiatives include energy-efficient systems for lighting, heating and cooling; leftover food is composted and recycled in garden soil; there are charging ports for electric vehicles; and much of the restaurant’s produce comes from the on-site gardens, while external vendors are green-certified. Coffee is fair trade, and there’s a focus on water conservation.