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Il San Pietro di Positano, A Hotel Carved into the Cliff Side on the Amalfi Coast

Have you ever looked at so many pictures of a place that you’ve feel like you’ve been there? Well that’s how I felt about the Amalfi Coast, a place I’d dreamt of visiting for so long and a place that I was already in love with. As we rounded the corners of those cliff hanging roads and the pastel hues of the villages came into view, I breathed a sigh…it was just as beautiful as I hoped…perhaps even more.
After an hour and half drive from Naples, our car pulled to a stop at the cliff side…where was the hotel? Well that’s the thing about Il San Pietro di Positano… it’s no ordinary place. Described as ‘suspended between sea and sky’ this glorious Relais & Châteaux hotel in Positano is actually carved into the cliff face so it is totally at one with it’s surroundings.

With only the subtle imprint of the hotel’s initials on the ground to alert us we were there, we were led to a flower-lined cliff side path into the hotel whilst our luggage was smoothly transferred into a lift.

First impressions seriously count and when you’re greeted by a hotel lobby like this, you just know a hotel is going to be good. Huge picture windows, natural white fabrics, colourful fresh flowers and antique furnishings. And just outside those picture windows was my favourite part of the hotel… 
This glorious terrace wrapped around the hotel with the most beautiful mosaic tiles seats I’d ever seen. On one side views looked out to Positano, located around a ten minute drive away and easily accessible by the hotel shuttle.

And the other looks out to the rugged cliffs beyond. 
Welcome rossinis were pressed into our hands and from here we admired the beautiful view of the front of the hotel and it’s flower covered facade…
By night terrace was alive with sophisticated guests sipping bellinis and enjoying treats from the popcorn machine, lit up by the twinkling lights of Positano. 
Honestly, if I could capture a moment in my life and return to my happy place, it would be here enjoying cocktails on the terrace at Il San Pietro di Positano. The perfect location of this hotel is no accident. Back in 1962 Carlo Cinque – known to his friends as “Carlino” purchased the property that he felt gave the perfect view of his beloved Positano and of the coast. Carlino was dedicated to looking after his guests and paying attention to detail to make sure every stay was like paradise – he became a well-known figure in the history of Positano owing to his charisma and geniality.

Even after his death, the hotel was kept in the family, passing first to his niece and nephew Salvatore and Virginia and after Salvatore’s death, Virginia and her sons Carlo and Vito Cinque, took charge. Despite the hotel’s age, the longevity has been in the care and maintenance of the place as well as the continual evolution.

Another reason for the hotel’s popularity is the Michelin-starred restaurant, Zass. Not only is Zass the jewel in the crown for its magnificent food created by multi-Michelin starred Chef Alois Vanlangenaeker but it is also one of the most beautiful restaurants I’ve ever been to.   
That glorious terrace, pink flowers and table clothes and beautiful lanterns… not to mention the view. 
On our first day we had lunch out on the terrace at Zass, I can certainly see why this restaurant has had a Michelin star since 2002 and why it is ranked amongst the best in the Amalfi Coast.

We have (just about) learnt our lesson when it comes to ordering Italian food and we’ve stopped eating four courses for lunch. We both had pasta to start – one mixed sea food and one lobster.

Main courses were light fish dishes without any heavy sauces. Where possible ingredients are local here, some products even come from Il San Pietro’s own vegetable garden.
I don’t think lemon sorbet will ever live up to the exquisite taste of Amalfi lemons, oh well just one of ten million excuses to return!
Breakfast can be chosen from the buffet; exquisite pastries made by the five pastry chefs, fresh meat and fish, delicious balls of mozzarella, little pots of fresh fruit… washed down with the very best coffee, fresh fruit juice or prosecco. Or an à la carte order of eggs or anything else that you desire. 
Dinner at Zass was perhaps our favourite of the holiday, lit up by lanterns, delicious food and we were serenaded by an opera singer. 
Knowing where our heart laid, they started us off with pizza and from there it was a choice between the tasting menu or a la carte.  
We enjoyed a classic deep-fried egg dish, a beautifully cooked lobster spaghetti and a whole sea bass to share prepared table side. All the while be serenaded by the rather handsome opera singer and enjoying the elegant environment of the restaurant.

The hotel can be explored via vertiginous cliff side paths or you can relax and take the lift built right into the rocks everywhere…
I’d recommend taking at least one walk along the path and taking in the views…
Walk up from the main lobby area and you’ll find the spa and gym…
Honestly did you ever see such a beautiful gym? Underneath lemon groves, by a rose garden and with a view of the coast…it would be almost enough to turn the most relaxed holiday goer to exercise… almost…

We didn’t use the spa itself but treatments use luxury la Prairie products and you can opt for facials, massages or body treatments. Or go all out with the Exclusive Four Handed Massage San Pietro performed by two therapists using sweet almond oil scented with lemon essence.

Around the other side from the gym is the hotel pool…
With a distinctive crescent shape, views over the small town of Praiano, more beautiful flowers and yet more gorgeous tiles… it’s the perfect place to relax. And service is provided from the bar with the signature warmth that we experienced throughout the hotel. 
If you take the cliff path down you’ll find even more beautiful facilities. 
A large tennis court is perfectly positioned by the sea…and take a few steps further and you’ll find the hotel’s private beach. 
Though it’s only a small stretch of sand it’s far preferable to the crowded beaches in the main town of Positano…
And it’s served by a separate bar…rosé for days please!
The hotel also has its own boat offering two-hour complimentary cruises or you can hire a private yacht for the day to take a spin around the coast and to visit Capri. For something casual yet still utterly sophisticated, the restaurant Carlino is located right on the beach, named after the original founder of the hotel, it’s the perfect spot to enjoy lunch whilst listening the waves crashing on the beach.   
The restaurant itself is carved into the cliffside and the interiors hit the perfect notes of rustic yet chic.
The dishes are made with the freshest, local ingredients in order to highlight the wonderful produce of the area. 
We enjoyed a tartare of local fish.

Mozzarella wrapped in lemon leaves.

A simple but so delicious lemon and chilli spaghetti. 
And sea bass with courgettes. Everything was just totally perfect and the atmosphere was lovely as we watched fellow guests clink glasses of rosé and munch on salads and pasta.
Every single one of the 57 rooms at Il San Pietro di Positano has a sea view and each one is decorated differently. The interior of ours was white with blue accents, giving it the feeling of being sprayed by the ocean and the iconic tiles on the floor are not only beautiful but cool against your feet. Our Elite room was spacious enough but I will note that the size of the rooms in the Amalfi Coast do not reflect the cost, unfortunately they are quite bad value for money so be aware of that when booking. 
Though the design is overall crisp and clean there are delicate details that add to the overall feel of it and give the rooms a sense of place. Such as this gorgeous door, the ornate headboard and hand-made fabrics.

With double sinks, Italian marble touches and beautiful full-sized amenities, it’s the perfect place for a pamper. Many of the rooms have recently undergone a revamp, the Cinques like to keep their beautiful property glowing and new!

And that beautiful terrace? Well, it was perfect in the day time, waking up to the view of the sea and Positano beyond. 
Or a place for Aperitivo and showcasing outfits in the evening…
Before I finish I wanted to make a comment on the service here which hit the perfect notes of warmth and friendliness with that touch of formality that you expect from a luxury hotel. Nothing was too much trouble from booking restaurants, sourcing sea sickness tablets and arranging a hairdresser to our room. Many of the staff had been there for decades, true testament to the wonder of this place.

It can be hard to write about a place that you didn’t like but it can be even harder to write about a place that you loved. How do you put into words that warm and magical feeling the a beautiful hotel inspires… I just hope I’ve done justice to a hotel that I fell so much in love with!


Il San Pietro
via Laurito 2,
84017 Positano (SA)
Somewhere between Heaven and Earth
Tel. (+39) 089 812 080