COASTAL SPLENDOUR AT THE BELMOND HOTEL CARUSO, RAVELLO
Perched high up on the rocky Amalfi coastal town of Ravello, lies The Belmond Hotel Caruso. It’s set on beautifully immaculate gardens with awe-inspiring views from just about every angle of the property. Follow me as I embark on a special anniversary stay at The Belmond Caruso, to celebrate eight years of marriage to Dr C on the first stop of our coastal jaunt.
A COASTAL HISTORY
This property dates back to the 11th century when an aristocratic Roman family were en route to Constantinople and were shipwrecked off Ravello. They decided to stay in the area and built Palazzo d’Afflitto high on the cliffs, symbolising their survival.
By the 16th century, the palace was completely rebuilt featuring a colonnade in the raised gardens, leading to a look-out tower, which still gives the best views of Ravello. In the late 17th and 18th centuries, frescoes were added by local artists and a painted chapel was constructed and grand marble columns were erected at the entrance.
In 1893, hotelier and vineyard owner, Pantaleone Caruso and his wife began renting the rooms in one of the wings of the palace, but eventually took over the whole of the palace and named in Hotel Caruso Belvedere. During the early 1900’s and many years later when Caruso’s sons were running the hotel, it’s thought to have became quite the haunt with the rich and famous. Stars such as Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart and Jackie Kennedy were attracted by its privacy.
Belmond acquired the hotel in 2000 and undertook a four year restoration, involving exposing the frescoes and the foundations of the medieval palace. It re-opened as Belmond Caruso in July 2005, with a stunning infinity pool and 50 rooms and suites supporting the palaces original character. Guests are greeted by two stone lions guarding the entrance along the breath-taking vista of this coastal property.
THE BELMOND RECEPTION
A steep winding road leads you to the top of a beautiful cobble stoned Palazzo, with a chapel on one side and a traditional Belmond reception, that I have become familiar with over the years.
The fantastic Alfonso led us into the entrance of the hotel, our bags were dealt with swiftly and before we knew it we were checked in, with glasses of fresh lemonade and led by the hotel manager, for a seat in the al fresco Belvedere restaurant. Here we nibbled on sweet snacks and discussed the plans of the evening to celebrate our anniversary, which included a private dinner in the hotels’ Herb garden overlooking the coast.
A PERUSE OF THE COMMUNAL AREAS
The smell of lemons and signature scent filled the communal spaces including the lobby area, which leads off onto numerous balcony’s, alcoves and beautifully upholstered sofas and chairs.
The hotel is very much of a grand style featuring sweeping archways with vaulted ceilings, weathered but timeless old floors, restored frescoes and ornate crystal chandeliers.
The salons comprise precious antiques and the walls are adorned with masterful art collections. With all this you may assume that the place sounds quite stuffy and pretentious but this is not the case. In fact the style of management and the friendly staff just characterise the brand’s ethos, ‘the art of Belmond.
There are 50 bedrooms and suites scattered around the grand property. A handful of the rooms have a sea views and all have some sort of terrace or outdoor space. The rooms are decorated in Mediterranean coloured fabrics and are all super spacious with tea and coffee making facilities, Bosé sound systems.
Our deluxe double sea view room had a sofa by the window to admire the views and as with the usual Belmond touch, mineral water, a welcome note, fruit and a chilled bottle of Prosecco was awaiting us to unwind to at check-in.
The bathrooms are huge covered in marble with a separate walk-in shower, dressing area, double vanity sinks and a bath tub with killer Amalfi coast views! The amenities are an endless supply of Bvlgari and Penhaligons luxury!
WINING & DINING
THE WOOD PANELLED BAR
Start and finish your evening here and I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with the service, the fine chat and the drinks of course. Mine was an Espresso Martini both times and head barman, Tommaso and his team are well versed in not only the art of Belmond but also in the art of cocktail making!
This is the hotels main restaurant, which focuses on fresh local ingredients, blended with traditional Italian specialities. You can either dine in the beautifully draped indoor dining room, on the outdoor terrace or in the alfresco area surrounded by ancient rose bushes.
We had breakfast in the Belvedere restaurant, which comprised of a lovely American buffet spread but also cooked to order delights such as eggs, bacon, pancakes, French toast and the option of a champagne breakfast is always available upon request with salmon and caviar.
POOL SNACK BAR
Set beside the breath taking infinity pool, there is an informal alfresco dining experience awaiting serving, pizzas, salads all you may need if spending a free day of relaxation by the pool. Pizza making classes are also run here for children and adults alike.
COCKTAIL & PIANO BAR
A sophisticated venue, featuring frescoes and views of the Amalfi coastline. A beautiful place to sit and relax any time of the day and listen to the sound of the sea.
Our private anniversary dinner on the terrace was cancelled due to a coastal gust around the herb garden and we were moved to the Cocktail and Piano Bar, which was exclusively ours for the evening!
Restaurant Belvedere’s Executive Chef Mimmo di Raffaele cooked up a personalised menu, which was fit for a King and Queen and at our service throughout the evening was Martina, our waitress. It was truly incredible cuisine and atmosphere and if you are staying at the hotel for a special occasion it’s worth contacting the Belmond Hotel Caruso prior to arriving as they can offer many fantastic suggestions like this.
The light was beautifully romantic however not the best for photography. I wanted to include the photos to represent the quality of food that Chef Mimmo presented us with. If anyone is considering booking a private dining experience which incidentally can be tailored fully to any dietary requirements, I would thoroughly recommend the experience.
We started our dinner with a pre-starter from the chef of a medley of oysters, ricotta cheese, shrimp, burrata and ham.
This was soon followed up with an amuse bouche of bread, tuna and tomatoes sauce, which got us in the mood for a special dining experience.
The next dish was named ‘summertime in the garden’ and after seeing it you can understand why, with the beautiful colours of the veg accompanied by purees. Dr C also ordered a medley of fish bites.
This was swiftly followed up with a selection of Buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil.
The pasta course consisted of a seafood linguine with a generous helping of fresh truffle, which Chef Mimmo came out to serve specifically for us. It was rich and decadent and justified for a special occasion.
Next it was time for the fish course, we both ordered different seabass dishes, served with an array of blanched vegetables, figs and a beautiful tomato based sauce.
We were succumbed to dessert and with that came a sorbet style pre-desert, which was just the refreshing taste we needed before our final sweet treat.
A lemon mousse on a flavoured basil biscuit served with a citrus sorbet and a ginger sauce. Absolute perfection!
Oh and finally, lets not forget the petits fours, which consisted of rum soaked baba
Apart from the beautiful infinity pool, I’d go as far as saying one of the most beautiful I have ever dipped in, in fact, it is considered one of the best hotel pools in the world!
There is a relaxing spa, fitness room, daily boat trips to Positano and Amalfi coast and a shuttle service down to the coastline. Additionally, there are a number of child and adult friendly activities such as pizza-making and painting classes with a local artist.
THE BEAUTIFUL TOWN OF RAVELLO
Piazza del Duomo is a gentle five-minute saunter away and I would highly recommend taking a little walk into the town and checking out the main square the restaurants and ceramic shops. It’s a picturesque town and surroundings, with the coastline on one side and the old stone worked village style architecture on the other.
Little parks and meandering pathways line your route. You’ll walk into the odd wedding celebration, a handful of tourist but most of all you’ll be able to grab a drink and watch the world go by at a slower relaxed pace compared to any other town on the coast. Ravello is the quieter of all the towns located on the Amalfi Coast and has a beautiful charm all of its own. One of my favourites among the coastal route in the area.
The Belmond Hotel Caruso has one of the most exclusive, secluded spots in Ravello. It’s a luxurious boutique hotel, where there is plenty of charm from the staff, character from the property and location and quality in terms of cuisine. The service is old school but luring. This is a place where the staff remember your name, where you like to sit and know how you take your coffee or Espresso Martini, should I say!
SHEER UNADULTERATED PERFECTION FOR
Honeymoons, special occasions, child friendly, weddings, luxurious escape
Let me know if this is your kind of coastal escape in the comments below.
Read about my stay at Belmond Villa San Michele in the Fiesole Hills.
Belmond Hotel Caruso
Piazza S. Giovanni del Toro 2
Tel: +39 089 858 801
For best rates, bookings should be made directly via the Belmond Hotel Caruso’s website