It’s the sheer variety that strikes you first. Italy has as many hotels as it has destinations, from old-fashioned family-run pensioni in historic city centres to elegant lakeside resorts where you dine by candlelight at the water’s edge. There are mountain lodges with Michelin-starred restaurants, aristocratic townhouses with museum-standard collections of art and antiques, rock-hewn Amalfi Coast cliff hotels, Tuscan hilltop castles and ancient Sicilian wine estates.
Compiled by Telegraph Travel’s Italy experts, who have stayed at, reviewed and rated all these properties, this list represents a selection of special places that distil the Italian verve for dolce vita hospitality. Some – especially the coastal, island and lake resorts – are seasonal, which generally means that they open from April through to October. Not all are fabulously expensive, but all, in our view, are fabulous. Buona vacanza!
Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como
Dating back to the early 20th century, the hotel is decorated in the Art Nouveau style with lavishly appointed fabrics, period furniture and antique paintings and prints. Rooms are decorated in pastel hues and refined furnishings, and have wonderful lake or garden views. The hotel’s La Terrazza restaurant offers creative Italian cuisine, while L’Escale Fondues & Wine Bar is a good spot to grab a fondue or barbecue in a relaxed setting. Double rooms from £420.
Read the full review: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como
Hotel Belvedere, Lake Como
The hotel is set on a hillside among gorgeous tiered grounds shaded by olive trees, commanding wonderful views of the Lecco arm of the lake. Rooms are set in the main building or in villas dotted around the garden. The atmosphere is relaxed and informal. Standard rooms feature classic Italian furnishings with modern amenities, and some have direct access to the gardens. Added little touches are what really make this place special, such as the wicker baskets with books placed by the poolside. Double rooms from £250.
Read the full review: Hotel Belvedere, Lake Como
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Lake Como
Location doesn’t get any better than this: the gardens of Villa Serbelloni command wonderful views of the lake. The opulent interiors recreate a 19th-century environment, with marble columns and staircases, trompe l’oeil, and Murano chandeliers; walls are adorned with frescoes and gilded frames, while ceilings have floral patterns in light hues of pink and pearl-grey. The formal Michelin-starred Mistral serves sophisticated Italian molecular cuisine, while the more informal La Goletta, themed like a boat, offers traditional Italian dishes in a laid-back setting. Double rooms from £285.
Read the full review: Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Lake Como
Villa d’Este, Lake Como
Grand and traditional, calm and elegant. There are wide hallways and a sweeping staircase, important sculptures, show-stopping flower arrangements and a huge terrace that extends along the lake. The 152 rooms are divided between those in the main Cardinal building, and those in the 19th century Queen’s Pavilion. They are traditionally furnished with antiques, paintings, vintage prints, silks, brocades and marble bathrooms. Facilities are legion, with a beauty spa and a Sports Club, including indoor pool and tennis courts, plus sailing and watersports on the lake. Double rooms from £430.
Read the full review: Villa d’Este, Lake Como
Lefay Resort and Spa, Lake Garda
Set in 27-acre grounds, the resort is crafted into the mountainside above Gargnano, a pretty town with orange trees lining the lakefront. Rooms feature local walnut and olive floors and Italian furnishings. Stone and pink marble bathrooms have bathtub and shower with Lefay Spa toiletries. All rooms have lake views. The resort’s award-winning spa comprises indoor and outdoor heated salt-water pools, infinity pool, hammam, five saunas, a salt lake and 21 massage rooms. Double rooms from £200.
Read the full review: Lefay Resort and Spa, Lake Garda
Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Lake Garda
The entrance hall has coffered ceilings and original 19th-century carved wooden benches, while the library has a wood-burning fireplace and shelves lined with classic works of literature. The elegant salon overlooking the lake has intricate frescoes, antique Venetian mirrors and Art Nouveau lamps. With only 21 rooms, the atmosphere is intimate. Rooms have original antiques and cream-coloured draperies, while walls are embellished with oil portraits and historic prints. The two Michelin-starred restaurant serves exceptional Italian cuisine and fresh lake fish dishes. Double rooms from £800.
Read the full review: Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Lake Garda
Villa Arcadio, Lake Garda
The hotel is located in a former convent dating from circa 13th century. Original fresco details are visible throughout the villa, both in the communal areas and in some of the rooms. With only 18 rooms, the atmosphere is intimate and informal. Rooms, which feature original artworks, are decorated in neutral colours, and have lake or garden views. The experienced chef prepares excellent seasonal dishes with a twist using fresh ingredients from the hotel’s vegetable and herb garden. Double rooms from £255.
Read the full review: Villa Arcadio, Lake Garda
Locanda San Vigilio, Lake Garda
With only seven rooms and five suites, the atmosphere is intimate and exclusive. Interiors are furnished with the owners’ private collection of antiques, oriental rugs, 16th-century paintings and 18th-century prints. It feels more like a private home than a hotel. Most rooms have parquet flooring, wooden beams and crimson rugs, exuding a cosy rustic feel. The Locanda San Vigilio restaurant serves traditional Italian cuisine in a peaceful lakefront setting. There’s also an inviting swimming pool framed by olive trees with lovely lake views. Double rooms from £129.
Read the full review: Locanda San Vigilio, Lake Garda
Relais I Due Roccoli, Lake Iseo
The hotel has a wonderful setting on a hillside overlooking the lake. The oldest part of the hotel is a medieval tower housed in a rustic farmhouse that is today a restaurant. The main villa dates back to the 17th century and has retained much of its original structure. Communal areas are embellished with the owners’ private collection of paintings. Lake view rooms are located in the main villa and decorated with antique pieces of furniture; all have balconies or terraces. Double rooms from £125.
Read the full review: Relais I Due Roccoli, Lake Iseo
Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees, Lake Maggiore
The hotel is on the lakefront of Stresa, a peaceful lakeside resort that serves as the ideal base to explore the Borromean Islands. Interiors are furnished in Italian Art Nouveau style. Six of the hotel corridors have been transformed into miniature art galleries, with a collection of reproduction of works of art dating back to the 15th century. Facilities include a tennis court, three swimming pools, sauna, steam room, Japanese garden and a state-of-the-art wellness spa. Double rooms from £295.
Read the full review: Grand Hotel des Iles Borromees, Lake Maggiore
Villa and Palazzo Aminta, Lake Maggiore
Formerly a private residence, the opulent interiors feature stuccos, chandeliers and antiques. The hotel is set in beautiful grounds with azaleas, camellias and rhododendrons; there’s an outdoor swimming pool and private beach. All rooms have balconies or terraces with garden or lake views, and feature Murano lamps and frescoes. The Palazzo Aminta Spa features the Grotto Camelia, a dimly lit cave housing steam room, ice waterfall, Aromarium and sensory showers alternating between hot and cold. Double rooms from £245.
Read the full review: Villa and Palazzo Aminta, Lake Maggiore
Villa Crespi, Lake Orta
Resembling a Moorish palace, the building dates from 1879 when cotton merchant Cristoforo Benigno Crespi, inspired by Baghdad’s architecture, built a private villa on the shores of his native Lake Orta. Surrounded by verdant gardens, the villa has its own minaret, while the interiors resemble an emir’s palace, with intricate handmade stucco motifs and marble columns. The warm, elegant rooms retain their original parquet flooring, and are embellished with rich fabrics and drapes. Renowned chef Antonino Cannavacciuolo runs the hotel’s excellent two Michelin-starred restaurant. Double rooms from £305.
Read the full review: Villa Crespi, Lake Orta
The Gritti Palace, Venice
The hotel occupies a palace that dates from 1475 and was owned by Andrea Gritti, doge of Venice from 1523 to 1538. Three years ago it emerged from a 15-month restoration that involved the revamping of the entire building, including the rooms, the restoration all of the hotel’s hundreds of precious paintings and other artefacts, and the addition of a small (two double treatment rooms) but exquisite Acqua di Parma spa. The Club de Doge restaurant has one of the most beautiful dining rooms in this or any other city. Double rooms from £425.
Read the full review: The Gritti Palace, Venice
Aman Canal Grande, Venice
Guests can arrive by boat to enter by the formal 'porta d’acqua’ into a vast, beamed reception with marble chequered flooring and original frescos. A trompe-l’oeil grand staircase leads up to the piano nobile and rococo ballroom with gilt mirrors, frescos, Murano chandeliers, terrazzo floor and windows overlooking the canal. Dining room, bar and salons have sumptuous Rubelli silk wall coverings, oil paintings and carved stone fireplaces with bowls of exotic white amaryllis as table centrepieces. Double rooms from £935.
Read the full review: Aman Canal Grande, Venice
Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice
The feel here is luxuriously elegant modern classic with lots of Venetian touches, rather than atmospheric historic pile. There are 79 rooms and suites in the main hotel and all have private balconies, gorgeous fabrics, Fortuny light fittings and sumptuous bathrooms. The Cip’s Club restaurant, on the lagoon-side walk of the Giudecca canal, is an informal dining option; for something more elegant, there’s the Oro restaurant inside. A spa, exclusive on-site boutiques, extensive gardens and a huge swimming pool complete the picture. Double rooms from £525.
Read the full review: Belmond Hotel Cipriani, Venice
Four Seasons Florence
As soon as you walk into the lobby – a Renaissance loggia, decorated with original bas reliefs and stuccoes – you realise that this is no ordinary luxe kip. The hotel spreads out between the main building – 15th-century Palazzo della Gherardesca – and a 16th-century former convent on the other side of the 11-acre park, which is the largest private garden in Florence. With its oil paintings, antiques and slightly Old Parisian décor, it’s all elegantly sumptuous, and in the best possible haute-bourgeois taste. Double rooms from £290.
Read the full review: Four Seasons Florence
J. K. Place Firenze, Florence
A distillation of Florentine elegance, the classic-contemporary décor is the result of a meeting of minds between Italo-Israeli hotelier Ori Kafri and local interior designer Michele Bonan. It all feels a little like you’ve stepped into the house of a classy collector, a rich Florentine uncle who likes to set classical French and Italian antiques off against Moroccan lamps and Chinese lacquered sideboards. The hotel restaurant, J.K. Lounge, gets the balance between smart and informal just right. Double rooms from £265.
Read the full review: J. K. Place Firenze, Florence
Villa Cora, Florence
The main villa at the centre of the estate is an astonishing sight, an opulent riot of trompe l’oeil frescoes, stucco-work, huge mirrors, polished parquet floors and chandeliers, in a series of reception rooms that mix styles from Art Nouveau to neo-Moorish. Connected by a tunnel (handy if it’s raining), smaller guesthouse Villino Eugenia houses a third of the hotel’s 46 rooms, as well as the deliciously operatic spa. The large park that surrounds the two buildings boasts more than 100 varieties of rose. Double rooms from £450.
Read the full review: Villa Cora, Florence
Babuino 181, Rome
A home away from home, the intimate vibe is emulated in Babuino 181’s Back-to-the-Future décor. Original ornament details, such as the townhouse’s restored marble staircase and cast-iron railing, and Art Deco reproductions intermingle with contemporary art and photographs, while the earth-tone palette keeps the vibe calm and cosy. The 14 rooms and suites are dreamy hideouts of Frette linens, king-sized beds, comfortable couches, large windows, and natural woods blending with the hotel’s delicious warm tones of umbers, ochres and beiges. Double rooms from £290.
Read the full review: Babuino 181, Rome
Villa Spalletti Trivelli, Rome
Imagine having an antique- and art-stuffed palazzo, complete with elegant formal garden, that has been in your family for over a century – a place with opulent interiors of such historic significance that they are listed by the Italian heritage ministry. Well here, rather than imagining it, you can experience it. If the museum-like reception rooms downstairs inspire a certain don’t-touch awe, the 12 first-floor bedrooms are warm and welcoming with their rich fabrics, pastel hued walls and bedcovers, Fiandra linen sheets and alpaca or cashmere throws. Double rooms from £420.
Read the full review: Villa Spalletti Trivelli, Rome
Residenza Napoleone III, Rome
Some hotels model themselves on stately homes or aristocratic townhouses; Residenza Napoleone III is one. The Old Master paintings you see on the walls, the busts of Roman emperors that line the grand entrance staircase, the heirloom antiques that decorate the place – all these things have been in the Ruspoli family for generations. But this is no draughty castle – it feels warm despite the grand setting. A fresh, organic breakfast is served on Bulgari silverware by the maid, at an hour of your choosing. Double rooms from £700.
Read the full review: Residenza Napoleone III, Rome
J.K. Place Rome
The design – based on a discreet, quietly opulent Dolce Vita retro look – is as impressive in the bedrooms as it is in the downstairs communal areas. The ground floor feels a little like a stylish contemporary gentleman’s club – especially the chic little lounge/library. If the décor nods, in parts, towards the Orient, the food looks more to Manhattan, with a range of burgers, club sandwiches and main-course salads, backed up by a trusty range of Italian stalwarts. This is a place that lends itself to cocktails – just as well as they’re excellent. Double rooms from £300.
Read the full review: J.K. Place Rome
The Yard, Milan
The modish interiors feature sporting items that over the years the owner has collected from European flea markets. Each room is themed after a different sport, from hunting to motorcycling, and appointed with unique pieces of furniture, such as antique mahogany chests and cocktail cabinets. Most rooms have private balconies. The hotel’s lounge bar attracts a hip crowd. Double rooms from £195.
Read the full review: The Yard, Milan
Mandarin Oriental Milan
The hotel occupies four 18th-century buildings, formerly the headquarters of a bank. Interiors aim to recreate a Milanese residence of the early 20th century, with mellow pastel-coloured walls and an open-plan fireplace complemented by Oriental-inspired details that echo the hotel group’s Far Eastern heritage. Purple and beige dominate in the rooms, with plum-coloured armchairs and velvet textiles complemented by smoky linen curtains. With its black and white geometric mosaic patterns, the Mandarin Bar is a modish spot for an aperitivo or cocktail. Double rooms from £520.
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Park Hyatt Milan
Location doesn’t get any better than this. The hotel is in the heart of Milan overlooking the sumptuous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II shopping arcade and located within a beautiful palazzo that dates back to 1870. Interiors feature sophisticated classical décor with cream-coloured travertine and black marble throughout. Travertine marble with black inlays and Venetian stucco dominate the 106 rooms and suites. All rooms have king-sized beds and most have hand-blown Murano lamps. Michelin-starred VUN restaurant offers exceptional Italian cuisine with a twist. Double rooms from £390.
Read the full review: Park Hyatt Milan
Set in a leafy private garden in Brera, Milan’s artists’ quarter, the hotel enjoys a wonderfully tranquil location. Interiors are stylish and contemporary with black marble and granite, bronze, teak and oak fittings, and Italian furniture. Black and earthy tones prevail in the rooms. Bleached oak marries well with the pale hues of the fabrics and cream-coloured linen wallpaper. The excellent spa has a 12-metre gold mosaic swimming pool and glass-fronted hammam with stone seating. Double rooms from £500.
Read the full review: Bulgari Milan
Rosa Alpina, Dolomites
Summer visitors can enjoy hiking, biking and climbing, while winter visitors have 130km of slopes on their doorstep in the surrounding Dolomites. The original building dates back to 1850 and local antiques, wood carvings and old photographs complement its wood-panelled ceilings and thick, frescoed walls. Rooms offer contemporary design, with glass-encased fires and sleek timber furnishings, yet still nod to local Ladin traditions with wood-panelled ceilings, fire wood baskets and ceramic stoves. The two Michelin-starred St. Hubertus Restaurant is undoubtedly the culinary highlight. Double rooms from £580.
Read the full review: Rosa Alpina, Dolomites
Borgo Santo Pietro, Tuscany
This lovely cocoon-like property feels more like the house of a collector with exquisite taste than a hotel. Each room is unique, and all are spacious. Though the decor is unapologetically antique, the technology is not: guests are presented with pre-loaded his-and-hers iPods on arrival. The Meo Modo restaurant recently won a Michelin star, while the Treehouse Bar, near the pool, does pizzas from a wood-burning oven, salads and grilled meat or fish. The Borgo’s lovely spa occupies a whole Tuscan farmhouse in the garden. Double rooms from £400.
Read the full review: Borgo Santo Pietro, Tuscany
La Bandita, Tuscany
Cool Tuscan minimalism. The main building is a conversion of a 20th-century farmhouse – something that allowed the owners not to be constrained by the usual tiny Tuscan rural rooms and low ceilings. The result is an airy, luminous feel, with an open plan lounge, dining area and kitchen that becomes a focus for a kind of ongoing house party, plus eight very cool bedrooms. The cute infinity pool flirts shamelessly with the view. Standards are high in the restaurant. Double rooms from £185.
Read the full review: La Bandita, Tuscany
Villa Bordoni, Tuscany
Ceiling beams are painted ivory rather than left exposed in the usual Tuscan farmhouse way, walls are daubed with boldly-hued lime washes, and jazzy tiles, rustic furnishings and antiques – as much Moroccan, Neapolitan or Parisian in style as Tuscan – ramp up the eccentric verve of this charming retreat. In line with the hotel’s unpretentious chic approach, the food in the stylish restaurant is gourmet without being fancy: seasonal availability and the Tuscan traditions set the pace. Double rooms from £265.
Read the full review: Villa Bordoni, Tuscany
Castello di Casole, Tuscany
Dominating glorious wooded countryside from its hilltop near the town of Casole Val d’Elsa, the Castello is surrounded by its own 4,200-acre estate: guests can trek or mountain-bike on miles of marked trails without ever leaving the property. Levels of comfort and service are extremely high, and there’s a generally sophisticated atmosphere. An indulgent spa with pools inspired by ancient Roman thermae in the castle’s former wine cellar completes the experience. Double rooms from £385.
Read the full review: Castello di Casole, Tuscany
Palazzo Seneca, Umbria
Housed in a converted 16th-century palace that for years was the Posta hotel, a classic posthouse, complete with stables. It was immaculately converted by the Bianconi family, Norcian hoteliers for several generations, and the result is one of central Italy’s finest and most stylish hotels. The palace’s many original features – glorious flagstone and terracotta-tiled floors, beamed ceilings, a vast fireplace – have been retained and overlaid with the latest technology, tasteful furnishings and much fine local artisan work (leather-topped surfaces, linens, oak panelling). Double rooms from £125.
Read the full review: Palazzo Seneca, Umbria
Villa Cordevigo, Veneto
The original villa dates back to the 16th century; the southern wing of the building housed a mill in the 18th century, while the northern wing was once a stable and cellar. Classic rooms have queen-sized beds and terracotta or marble bathrooms. Some have stone fireplaces and wooden ceiling beams. There’s Michelin-starred dining in the hotel’s Oseleta restaurant. Double rooms from £175.
Read the full review: Villa Cordevigo, Veneto
Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot, South Tyrol
A glitzy, glossy palace, this is where you come to hail the king of Italian detoxing, Henri Chenot, and lose vast amounts of weight (up to half a stone in a week is the norm). Consultations in the slick spa are broken up by tiny but tasty meals in one of the two dietetic restaurants. And it’s glamorous: you might be only slurping soup for dinner but the dress code is still a little black dress and high heels. Double rooms from £320.
Read the full review: Palace Merano Espace Henri Chenot, South Tyrol
Castel Fragsburg, South Tyrol
Located in a historic hunting lodge that dates back to the 17th century, the hotel is South Tyrol’s smallest five star establishment (there are only 20 suites). It’s not stuffy or pretentious though – think Alpine comforts with a splash of elegance. Interiors feature a harmonious blend of Alpine and Mediterranean, with antique furniture, contemporary fittings and a touch of Art Deco. Run by the Ortner family, the hotel retains a welcoming family feel. Double rooms from £175.
Read the full review: Castel Fragsburg, South Tyrol
Hotel Il Pellicano, Tuscany
Il Pellicano stands in majestic natural seclusion amid stone pines and cypresses with breathtaking sunset views down the coast. Chic in a laid-back, old-school kind of way, the décor might be described as Tuscan elegance (terracotta floors, walnut antiques) with a touch of the Spanish seaside and the French country house. It feels like a home rather than a hotel. There are two restaurants – the fancier and more formal Michelin-starred Il Pellicano and the laid-back al fresco Pelligrill. Double rooms from £300.
Read the full review: Hotel Il Pellicano, Tuscany
Masseria Torre Coccaro, Puglia
Torre Coccaro centres on an ancient masseria (fortified farmstead) with the rocky coast and the hotel’s Coccaro Beach Club just a short bike ride away. Most rooms, done out in Puglian peasant-chic mode with touches of Provencal elegance, are located in independent villas scattered around the resort’s gardens and olive groves, but a few – including the high-ceilinged Suite della Torre and two deluxe junior suites – occupy the 16th-century watchtower at the centre of the property. Double rooms from £300.
Read the full review: Masseria Torre Coccaro, Puglia
Masseria San Domenico, Puglia
Neither castle nor fortress, the Masseria San Domenico is shaped out of a fortified country house with rooms that have character, individuality and panoramic views over Puglia. Pale ochre buildings rise out of stone courtyards that lead to the pool and across lawns punctuated by ancient olive trees amid an ambience that is five-star boutique-style intimacy with elegance, privacy and Puglian cuisine. The grounds are ideal for walks or a stroll to the shoreline, and there are bikes to rent too. Double rooms from £300.
Read the full review: Masseria San Domenico, Puglia
Monastero Santa Rosa, Conca dei Marini, Amalfi Coast
One of the most exclusive and luxurious of all the hotels in this most-exclusive chunk of Italy, the Santa Rosa’s creation is down to one woman, Bianca Sharma, who bought the vast, cliff-top building after spying it from a boat. She spared no expense in transforming the 17th-century monastery into a stylish and cocooning hotel, while fully respecting the building’s origins. There’s everything you need on site: fabulous terraced gardens with a heated infinity pool; the best spa on the costiera; an outdoor gym with a view; and a superb bar and restaurant. Double rooms from £350.
Read the full review: Monastero Santa Rosa, Conca dei Marini, Amalfi Coast
Il San Pietro di Positano, Positano, Amalfi Coast
Guests want for nothing here. You could quite easily arrive in the hotel and throw away the car keys for the duration: just about anything you could possibly wish for is on site, and for a zip up the coast, one of the hotel’s private boats will pick you up from the jetty. There is a bar with a spectacular terrace overlooking the sparkling lights of the village, a gourmet restaurant, fabulous terraced gardens and, on sea level, a private 'beach’, a tennis court, spa and a casual-chic beachside restaurant. Double rooms from £400.
Read the full review: Il San Pietro di Positano, Positano, Amalfi Coast
Le Sirenuse, Positano, Amalfi Coast
An eclectic collection of antique furniture and art helps the hotel retain its atmosphere of the private home it originally was, though over time it has conjoined with neighbouring houses to become a warren of rooms and public areas on several floor. The Michelin-starred La Sponda restaurant is about as romantic as a dining room can possibly be. Entirely lit by 400 candles (the waiters carry torches so diners can see the menu) it has creeper-clad walls, stiff white tablecloths and grandstand views over the twinkling resort lights and sea. Double rooms from £425.
Read the full review: Le Sirenuse, Positano, Amalfi Coast
Santa Caterina, Amalfi, Amalfi Coast
Family antiques pepper the cool, white interiors, which are splashed with Mediterranean colour on patterned tiles and fabrics. The airy dining room has a stunning blue Brazilian-marble floor and a lovely terrace overlooking gardens and sea. The big surprise is the glass lift that whooshes down the cliff to where the delightful pool, bar, beach-shack restaurant (dancing to live music on Tuesdays), sea and boats await. Dining on the terrace is romantic and breakfast in the morning is a joy, too. Double rooms from £320.
Read the full review: Santa Caterina, Amalfi, Amalfi Coast
Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Amalfi Coast
The hotel and gardens enjoy incomparable views over the coast and the Mediterranean far below. The hotel’s romantic English gardens culminate in the Terrace of Infinity, described by Gore Vidal as 'the most beautiful view in the world’. The 19 bedrooms are all different, with antique furnishings and more of those wonderful views, original Vietri majolica floors and stone or majolica fireplaces. The Il Flauto di Pan restaurant boasts a Michelin star. Double rooms from £325.
Read the full review: Villa Cimbrone, Ravello, Amalfi Coast
Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Bay of Naples
Built on high cliffs over a spectacular sheer drop, with a broad terrace that has sweeping views of Mount Vesuvius and Naples. There are plenty of original Belle Epoque features and furnishings, including marble floors, inlaid marquetry tables, stucco cupids depicted over doorways and windows and intricate, metal fretwork. Room categories range from classic garden or sea-view rooms to vast suites with private terraces overlooking the waterfront, some with in-room pianos. The Michelin-starred Terrazza Bosquet restaurant, specialising in seafood, overlooks the water. Double rooms from £365.
Read the full review: Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Bay of Naples
Belmond Hotel Splendido, Liguria
Oozing elegance, style and charm, the building was a family home for much of the 19th century and the décor is reminiscent of that time. On arrival guests negotiate a glamorous red carpet to be met by a small army of bell boys. Large windows frame views of the hotel’s elegant terrace and lush gardens. Take a dip in the hotel’s salt-water infinity pool for the best views of Portofino harbour. The emphasis is on fish at the hotel’s sophisticated Chuflay restaurant (formal attire required). Double rooms from £365.
Read the full review: Belmond Hotel Splendido, Liguria
Capofaro Malvasia, Salina, Aeolian Islands
This is a spread-out resort, with the reception area and small shop at the entrance a short walk (or golf-cart hop) away from the sea-facing pool, bar and restaurant area. Rooms are set back behind the vines, most of them out of earshot of poolside conversations and the occasional ambient DJ set. The mood is one of quietly sophisticated ease, the clientele mostly discreetly well-heeled but not conspicuously rich couples who need nothing more than sun, a stunning natural setting, a pool, and good food and wine to reach holiday nirvana. Double rooms from £200.
Read the full review: Capofaro Malvasia, Salina, Aeolian Islands
L’Agnata di De Andre, Tempio, Sardinia
It was the Sardinian home of the late Fabrizio De André, one of Italy’s most loved troubadours, and today offers discreet luxury and total repose in a stunning setting. This “country chic” hotel is at one with its rural setting, eschewing Costa Smeralda-style glamour in favour of homespun traditional trappings, with sottovoce infusions of luxury. Sardinian art on the walls and a smattering of antiques enliven the ambience. Surrounded by forest, the spacious grounds offer refreshing vistas of lawns, lavender and wisteria. The food is a highlight. Double rooms from £120.
Read the full review: L’Agnata di De Andre, Tempio, Sardinia
Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea, Taormina, Sicily
The hotel is set on its own private stretch of beach surrounded by lush gardens. Built in 1830, the hotel was once a private villa, and has retained the charm of a residence; it exudes classic understated elegance. Facilities include a heated infinity pool, use of the private beach with sun loungers and parasols, and a complimentary boat cruise (mid-May to mid-September). Water sports are available too, including paddle-surfing. The hotel can organise Vintage Fiat 500 and Ape Calessino tours. Double rooms from £300.
Read the full review: Belmond Villa Sant’Andrea, Taormina, Sicily
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina, Sicily
In a list of Great Views of the World, the panorama from the bar and restaurant terrace of the Timeo – over the clustered rooftops of medieval Taormina, past the coves and headlands of eastern Sicily’s volcanic coastline and across to the puffing peak of Mount Etna – would surely merit a place in the Top 10. Opt for a room in the main building for classic elegance and a special antique atmosphere. The cuisine at the Timeo’s terrace restaurant is fresh and reliable, with classic Sicilian dishes predominating over fancy preparations. Double rooms from £365.
Read the full review: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina, Sicily
J.K. Place Capri
Talented Florentine designer Michele Bonan has excelled himself in a hotel that is a paean to a certain upscale version of vintage, globetrotting Mediterranean elegance. Whether it’s the well-stocked and well-curated library of art, photography and design books, or the playful marine details – duck egg blue wall tints, porthole windows, framed photos of vintage yachts –the whole place exudes a sense of relaxed class that invites one to dress for dinner. Double rooms from £450.
Read the full review: J.K. Place Capri
Contributions from Kiki Deere, Fiona Duncan, Anne Hanley, Tim Jepson, Gabriella Le Breton, Lee Marshall, Belinda Maude, Mark Nicholls, Nick Trend and Nicky Swallow.