This beautiful five-star hotel on the Amalfi coast is steeped in history

Words: Selma Day

Perched on the cliff edge of Sorrento, the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is the grande dame of this historic town which lies at the heart of the Amalfi coast.

Overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, the hotel has been run by the Fiorentino family since 1834, and is steeped in history.

There aren’t many hotels that can boast ancient Roman ruins or 18th-century columns, antiques and frescoed ceilings.

It’s no wonder the hotel was part of the Grand Tour, welcoming royalty, politicians, artists and celebrities including the likes of Richard Wagner, Oscar Wilde, Jack Lemmon, Marilyn Monroe, Luciano Pavarotti, Sophia Loren and Lucio Dalla. The latter wrote the song Caruso when he stayed in what is now the Caruso suite in 1986 – dedicated to Enrico Caruso who spent two months in the same room in 1921. It is kept pretty much as it would have been when the famous tenor stayed there, complete with his piano and writing board, alongside letters and photographs.

There are six one-of-a-kind suites that honour past celebrities who have stayed at the hotel, each with their own look and feel but all boasting a lavish bedroom and lounge area. There are 80 rooms in total including these, along with 49 other suites, spread over the hotel’s three adjoining buildings: La Vittoria, La Favorita and La Rivale. Most have a balcony or terrace with stunning views over the bay or the gardens.

The location of Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria couldn’t be better. It’s in the centre of town but as soon as you step into the hotel grounds you feel you are in a mini resort, away from the hustle and bustle but close enough to stroll through the narrow streets and soak up the atmosphere.

The gardens are lush with Mediterranean plants, citrus and olive groves and a quick elevator ride sweeps guests directly to the port.

Piano dedicated to Enrico Caruso

The (heated) swimming pool is open from April to October. Decorated in an antique Roman style, it is surrounded by a wooden walkway and features a water massage area, water jets and waterfalls. It has its own snack bar and a poolside bar and restaurant.

L’Orangerie offers local favourites in a relaxed setting, while at night, the bar transforms into a glamorous lounge area serving small plates, accompanied by local and international wines and speciality cocktails.

For fine-dining, the Michelin-starred Terrazza Bosquet offers regional and Mediterranean cuisine using fresh, local produce. Meanwhile, Terrazza Vittoria serves Neapolitan specialities while you take in the magnificent views of the Bay of Naples, while La Pergola Bar à Champagne is the perfect spot for an aperitivo.

Exterior view of the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittori

If you can tear yourself away from the hotel, there’s plenty to discover in Sorrento itself and further afield. It’s worth taking a private boat to explore some of the attractions of the Amalfi coast – Capri, Amalfi, Ravello, Nerano and Positano are all within striking distance, while the archeological sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum are also within easy reach by hydrofoil, car or train.

With children well catered for – there’s a special pool for younger visitors as well as activities from pizza cooking classes to snorkelling – the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria offers something for everyone. Whether it’s a family holiday or a romantic escape, this hotel has it all.

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