The lowdown Twelve years ago, American Bianca Sharma was sailing with friends along Italy’s azure blue Amalfi Coast when she gazed up and spotted a 17th-century monastery perched high atop a cliff above the Bay of Salerno, just a few kilometres from the town of Amalfi. There and then, she decided to buy the neglected building; and now more than a decade later, after several legal wrangles with the local authorities and a painstaking renovation, this ultra luxe boutique hotel opened earlier this year.
The rooms Vaulted ceilings and the original nun’s quarters have been retained and linked together to create some of the most luxurious rooms and suites imaginable. Each of the 20 rooms (named after herbs the nuns would have grown in the gardens to make their medicines) is unique with awesome views of the hotel’s tiered gardens, infinity pool and the stunning coastline from every window. Décor is simple, in hues of blue with dark wood furniture and Italian antiques.
Eating and drinking Dine al fresco on the hotel’s terrace on a balmy evening or head into the intimate indoor restaurant with its vaulted ceilings if the air is chilly. It certainly is worth coming here just to sample German chef Christoph Bob’s cooking. The freshest, organic and locally-grown ingredients and fish straight from the sea are used to create his simple yet delicious dishes. We recommend pasta with baby squid, tomatoes and aubergine – mouthwateringly scrumptious! The wine list is impressive with a vast array of some of Italy’s best wines.
The spa You could be forgiven for wanting to spend all day here. Built over four floors into the vaults of the monastery, here you’ll find a tepidarium (a warm relaxation room) with heated mosaic benches, whirlpool footbaths, a herbal steam room, a crushed ice fountain, a sauna and a hydrotherapy pool. Most stunning of all though is the Spa Suite – a double height vaulted space with Rasul, steam room, double wet and dry treatment couches, mani/pedi stations, relaxation area and a garden terrace. The vast array of treatments using Italian-made Santa Maria Novella products will leave you spoilt for choice – whether you’re looking for something totally relaxing and indulgent, energising or hydrating, the facials, massages, scrubs and body wraps will leave you totally pampered.
Out and about It definitely is hard to tear yourself away from this idyllic location, but you really must! Apart from anything, seeing the hotel from the sea – the way the owner first did – is quite magical. We recommend hiring a private motor boat for a day (visit amalfisails.com) - you could hop over to Capri for lunch; or visit Positano for a spot of shopping, an espresso and gelato, and come back by boat to Amalfi for lunch - sit by the waterfront at Lido Azzurro (tel 00 39 08987 1384) and tuck into typical local dishes and the freshest fish.
The details Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel & Spa, 2 Via Roma, 84010 Conca dei Marini, Italy; tel 00 39 089832 1199. Visit monasterosantarosa.com. Rooms from 375 euros per night bed and breakfast.
Getting there Visit British Airways offer a seven night fly-drive to Naples from £209 per person. Visit ba.com
By Jeannette Arnold