The busy road from Naples to Sorrento leads you away from the city, through several tunnels until – pop! – out you come on to the famous winding coastal road with daredevil moped drivers and coaches weaving precariously around steep bends. And far beneath that sharp cliff face is the Bay of Naples, twinkling away in the sunlight and the ‘ahhh’ view that gives you that real holiday feeling you’ve been waiting for.
Sorrento is one of the first towns you will happen upon and it’s an ideal base if you’ve just got a day or two to get a flavour of all this region has to offer, with the beautiful town of Positano or a boat trip to Capri in easy reach for a day trip. Famed for its lemons, and of course, limoncello, Sorrento is a pretty town that is larger than its Amalfi Coast town counterparts. Despite the tourists, you’ll get the sense that it hasn’t lost its genuine local heart. And tourists there are aplenty. Especially if you visit in the blissfully warm but packed-to-the-rafters summer season.
There’s a good choice of hotels in Sorrento, but perhaps none quite so charming, nor so stylish, as Maison La Minervetta. It’s the epitome of a boutique hotel; small, chic and proudly run by its owners. What it doesn’t offer in five-star amenities like a spa or full-service restaurant, it makes up for in style, design and total dedication to its guests.
From the outside, Maison La Minervetta is so wonderfully discrete that when you arrive, you feel that you are privy to one of Sorrento’s secrets, or even arriving at a private members’ club. Which is what makes it even more perfect in the bustling summer high-season where hoards of tourists appear to move around en masse. Maison La Minervetta offers escapism from the crowds where the famous views can be enjoyed away from pushy sightseers.
Maison La Minervetta is built into the cliff side, so there’s no front entrance per se, just the top of an elevator inviting you to descend to the main level below. No matter how many luxury hotels you’ve been to, or how many fabulously opulent hotel lobbies you’ve passed through, you will never forget your first step into Maison La Minervetta. An interiors-enthusiasts dream, the sunlight-drenched lounge you enter into is bright, vibrant and welcoming and lined with glossy and beautiful Mediterranean tiles. Rebelling against the muted greys and sophisticated neutral tones so popular in high-end hotels, Maison La Minervetta is dazzling and colourful yet undeniably tasteful and wholly complementary to its Mediterranean home.
The lounge, spilling seamlessly out onto a terrace, is filled with plump sofas, comfy daybeds and reclining reading chairs, all positioned to give you the best view out to sea. Bright, nautical cushions are artfully scattered and hundreds and hundreds of stylish books and magazines stuff the shelves, are piled high on coffee tables and are propped open on easels. You’ll want to throw yourself onto the nearest sofa, with armfuls of books and order espresso, but an equally beautiful room awaits.
All sea view, the rooms are as colourful as the lounge but oh-so-tasteful, with the attention to detail and painstaking design abundantly clear. Every piece of furniture and artwork has been carefully considered and curated. On the way from the airport, you’ve already been treated to magnificent views across the sea to Mount Vesuvius, but there’s something about your floor-to-ceiling window framing the view that will hold your attention for longer than most hotel window views, however impressive they’ve been.
A set of narrow, twisty steps takes you down the cliff face, past the hotel’s small but perfectly formed pool, past more beautiful art until you finally reach the bottom and find yourself at Marina Grande, where there’s a good selection of over-water fish restaurants, including the excellent Delfino. The heart of the town can be reached from here too. It’s an enjoyable walk through Sorrento’s side streets, passing wine bars, gelaterias, and obligatory souvenir shops.
Breakfast is served in the kitchen at Maison La Minervetta. No, not the stainless steel catering kitchen that may have just sprung to mind. A vibrant Mediterranean kitchen with the surfaces piled high with breads, fruit and only-on-holiday syrupy pastries and sweet treats. Fill your plate — fabulously bright, quirky crockery — then step out onto the sunny terrace, feel the warm sun on your skin and enjoy your morning coffee overlooking the harbour far below alongside only a handful of other in-the-know guests at best. Maison La Minervetta only has 12 rooms after all.
Book Maison La Minervetta with Mr and Mrs Smith from £277 a night and you’ll get rather lovely extras like Prosecco or limoncello on arrival. British Airways and EasyJet fly direct to Naples from London Gatwick. And, at a reasonable two and half hours’ flight time, it makes Sorrento a great option for a short break.