Like Rome, the best hotels in Italy were not erected in one day. With its expansive vineyards, temple of historic sites, and renowned cuisine, Italy affords something for all. As expected, its urban retreats and seaside resorts are just as unique as its visitors. No matter if you’re invoking visions of Venetian opulence or rolling-hill escapes and swimming in the deep clear-blue Mediterranean sea, Italy is definitely an eternal fixture on every list of must-do Europe and each and every detail regarding its best hotels is bellissimo. Listed below are our most-loved timeless spots, whether urban style setters or idyllic country retreats.
BELMOND GRAND HOTEL TIMEO, Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Perched high on the rocky slopes on the east coast of Sicily, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo has always been regarded as one of Italy’s most prestigious hideaways, the epitome of Italian luxury. The first hotel to be built in Taormina, it’s located in the very best spot with views of the majestic Mount Etna and directly in front of the Greek Theater. Let Sicily welcome you as you marvel at its gardens, relish exceptional local cuisine and relax out on the Literary Terrace, while admiring the expansive vistas that extend out beyond and overlook the coastline.
Photo Credit: Belmond.com
FOUR SEASONS HOTEL FIRENZE, Florence, Italy
Four Seasons is Florence’s 117-room hotel, situated in the fifteenth/sixteenth-century palazzo – with enormous halls and rooms decorated with frescoes and murals. The décor ranges from luxurious Renaissance suites to a subtly sophisticated, almost Georgian style in most rooms. Amenities include a two-story herbal spa, an outdoor pool, and an 11-acre botanical garden that is “like heaven.” Dine alfresco at Il Palagio, amble along tree-lined paths to the spa, where wet-treatment rooms feature glass mosaic walls and floors.
Photo Credit: FourSeasons.com
CASTELLO DI CASOLE, Tuscany, Italy
A cypress-lined lane ends in a beautiful courtyard of a rolling 4,200-acre Tuscan wine estate that was built atop the ruins of a 10th-century castle. Superbly appointed, this 41-rustic-luxe suite hotel gracefully blends Old World Tuscan elegance with contemporary luxuries, and divine relaxation with splendor and elegance. It boasts a spa, three restaurants, and a mega-sized pool with one of the best views in Tuscany. Its aesthetic includes recycled terracotta tiles, oil paintings, local antiques, exposed wood-beamed ceilings, heavy silk curtains, velvet-upholstered furniture, Carrera-marble bathrooms, and a central courtyard with fountain. And Essere Spa, originally the estate’s wine cellar, features seven treatment rooms and massages incorporating orange and basil essential oils.
Photo Credit: CastellodiCasole.com
LE SIRENUSE, Positano, Italy
This hotel is a previous summer home of a noble family, is renowned for its classic, distinguished luxury and is nestled “in a beautiful fishing village” on the Amalfi Coast. The style is Moorish Baroque, with whitewashed walls and domed ceilings. Almost all the accommodations in the poppy-red, 18th-century villa, with museum-quality artifacts, hand-painted ceramic-tile floors and shuttered French doors, feature a private balcony or patio looking out on the bay. Amenities consist of an alfresco champagne-and-oyster bar, open from mid-May through mid-October and occupies its own terrace, a pool and Aveda spa, and a classic wooden boat for cruising up and down the coast like a superstar in the 1960’s.
Photo Credit: Sirenuse.it
ST. REGIS FLORENCE, Florence, Italy
This 15th-century former palace on the Piazza Ognissanti features “super-grand guest rooms”. It’s conveniently situated along the Arno River, stone’s throw away from the region’s finest high-end outlets, including Armani, Gucci, Fendi and Valentino, museums and the legendary Ponte Vecchio. The general areas are decorated with antique Murano chandeliers and restored 16th-century frescoes. The 100 guest accommodations boast high coffered ceilings, antiques, wall frescoes or tapestries, warm hues, and beds set beneath swags of brocade fabric. The St. Regis Florence experience affords an ingenious cuisine approach dishing unforgettable flavors, from classic Florentine recipes to tastes from the Mediterranean. It also boasts a wine cellar fashioned from a medieval cave. The full butler service includes an eButler feature—e-mail requests around the clock.
Photo Credit: TheLuxTraveller.com
IL SAN PIETRO DI POSITANO, Positano, Italy
A veritable architectural masterpiece, combining luxury with technical prowess, Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano is carved into the hillside overlooking the sea and the Bay of Positano. Designed so as to be in perfect harmony with the natural beauty of this unique stretch of Italian coastline, the hotel has a total of 62 rooms, all with terraces discreetly hidden amid a profusion of flowering plants. The elegant guest quarters all afford stunning sea views from these private balconies (and, in some cases, from the showers). Decorated in a singularly odd mix of gilded 18th-century-style elegance and 1970’s fab, they feature tiled floors, huge windows and bright curtains. Tiled benches scattered around the grounds are ideal for sunset cocktails. Though there is a small pool, most guests opt for the private sunbathing patio and small, sandy beach. The beach is located at the foot of the cliff on which the hotel is built, and is reached through the main lobby via a dramatic elevator ride down through the cliff. Here guests relax in the sunshine, soothed by the sound of the sea lapping the shore.
Photo Credit: Positano.com
HOTEL CIPRIANI, Venice, Italy
Situated on the edge of Giudecca Island, adjacent to St. Mark’s Square, the Hotel Cipriani boasts unequaled views of the Venetian lagoon and Doge’s Palace. Guests are provided with complimentary ferry rides across the lagoon to the famous piazza. Infused with Venetian opulence—silk lampshades and all-marble bathrooms, this luxury hotel is known for interiors embellished with exquisite local antiques, classic cuisine with a contemporary flair and pastel rooms looking out on the lagoon and greenery. A number of rooms are in the adjoining Palazzo Vendramin, and come with butler service. Swim in “the best pool in Europe” filled with filtered seawater. Pasta, pastries, and croissants are made fresh daily at Fortuny Restaurant.
Photo Credit: Belmond.com
GRAND HOTEL EXCELSIOR VITTORIA, Sorrento, Italy
Three adjacent 19th-century buildings on a cliff looking out on the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius, the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is a luxury hotel with great charm and a long history, unlike any other in Italy. Many of the original furnishings still remain. Rooms are designed in styles ranging from Pompeian to Victorian, with trompe l’oeil walls and parquet floors—not to mention verandas offering breathtaking views of the gulf and Vesuvius. Terrazza Bosquet serves Neapolitan dishes using ingredients from the hotel garden, but guests can always sip a Sorrento Mon Amour on Bar Vittoria’s terrace, overlooking the water. The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria is easily accessible by both land and sea, and also perfectly positioned for visits to the Amalfi coast, Capri, Ischia, Naples and historic sites of Pompeii and Herculaneum. Stroll through the property’s sprawling five-acre grounds full of colorful flowers, Italian olive trees, and citrus groves. Shiatsu massages are given in a converted greenhouse.
Photo Credit: ExVitt.it
HOTEL SANTA CATERINA, Amalfi, Italy
A late 19th-century liberty style villa immersed in the beautiful scenery of the Amalfi Coast, the Hotel Santa Caterina still reigns in Belle Époque splendor. An elegant seaside residence surrounded by the perennial blue of the Mediterranean sea and sky, by luscious bougainvillea and by lovingly cultivated olive groves and fruit orchards, this timeless beauty of the Amalfi Coast is a special place to experience the finest of Italian hospitality and lasting sensations of well being. Guest rooms are spread across the main building, two villas, and a triplet of honeymoon cottages. The rooms have colorful draperies, hand-painted tile floors, ceramics, and family heirlooms. An elevator descends to a private beach, saltwater pool, fitness center, and thatched-roof pizzeria and fish grill. Decompress at the spa, which offers Scottish showers. The open-air Ristorante Al Mare overlooks the pool, and lapis lazuli floors and vine-covered arches accent the main restaurant, where the menu is Italian. As you stroll through the secluded grounds, where natural terraces are planted with citrus groves and gardens, it’s obvious why Liz Taylor and Richard Burton chose to hide out here.
Photo Credit: HotelSantaCaterina.it
PALAZZO AVINO, Ravello, Italy
Previously the Palazzo Sasso, this lavish 12th-century medieval and Baroque palazzo along the Amalfi Coast continues to afford some of the most captivating sea views in Italy—from the gym to the underwater window in the heated pool to the twin jacuzzis. Accommodations are layered in period pieces from the 17th century, handcrafted Vietri tile floors, brass accents, and Frette and Bulgari furnishings. Another plus? The hotel’s proximity to Ravello, undeniably this coast’s most charming town. At Rossellinis, have dinner on one of the terraces as you look down on fishing boats a thousand feet below, savoring dishes like cod fillet with Gaeta olive crust. Caffé dell’Arte, with a black-and-white-tile floor, serves casual regional cuisine.
Photo Credit: PalazzoAvino.com
IL SALVIATINO, Fiesole, Italy
A hideaway in Florence’s provincial Fiesole region, this historic 45-room palatial estate consists of 12-acres of meticulously restored grounds, an entrance hall with a vaulted brick ceiling (which used to be a shelter for carriage horses), and a wood-paneled library with antique leather-bound books. The magnificently restored guestrooms have original features such as black-and-white-checkered marble floors and frescoed ceilings, alongside contemporary furnishings that are timeless—custom king-size beds with tufted leather headboards, TVs that ingeniously double as huge mirrors, deep soaking tubs, and rain showers illuminated with LED lighting—and fashioned not to detract from their Renaissance surroundings. White leather chesterfields on the terrace are for taking in the breathtaking panoramic views of the Duomo. At night, the property lights up with silver sconces and outdoor lanterns, creating a romantic atmosphere. Il Salviatino also features a split-level pool, two restaurants serving classic Tuscan cuisine, and Italy’s only Devarana spa. Dine at La Terraza, where potato dumplings with white meat ragout is one of the celebrated entrées. There is no formal check-in, but “service ambassadors” are concierges and butlers in one.
Photo Credit: Salviatino.com
HOTEL BRUNELLESCHI, Florence, Italy
The classic Hotel Brunelleschi is located in the historic center of Florence, where culture, mystery, religion and trade merge, creating a haven for charming corners, museums and sanctuaries. It’s formed partly from a medieval church and established in the Byzantine Torre della Pagliazza, only a stone’s throw away from the Uffizi Gallery, “Piazza della Signoria” and one of the most famous Italian and international shopping streets. Rooms have a modern aesthetic, with parquet floors, marble bathrooms, four-poster beds, and velvet headboards—in bright solid colors such as purple and red. From your guestroom, you can admire the remarkable Brunelleschi’s cupola or an eye-catching scenic terrace, both of which are unique opportunities to live history in all its essence. At the embedded seven-table restaurant, Santa Elisabetta, exposed stone walls and wood-beamed ceilings set the stage for Florence’s pure flavors and some of the most joyful moments of your life. The Tower Bar is the place for a midday snack, afternoon tea, or an aperitif. It also offers delicious, award-winning ice cream tasting, that’s sure to give your appetizers a different nuance. Three different flavors are matched with a sweets choice or spirits selected by the maître d’, to bring out the best in the ice cream.