While new hotels are exciting, there’s so much so be said about those great hotels that have stood the test of time. Those legendary places, famous for their history, unique architecture, famous guests and maybe even a hint of scandal? Well Le Sirenuse in Positano easily falls into the category of legendary hotel and I can’t wait to tell you why.
As someone who is passionate about beautiful hotels, Le Sirenuse had been on my bucket list for years and I just couldn’t visit the Amalfi Coast and Positano without staying there and ticking it off. Our first glimpse of the hotel had been from the boat, the second was as we drove from Il San Pietro along the vertiginous roads of the Amalfi Coast…
Having seen the hotel so many times, in magazines, blogs, on Instagram, in my dreams…there was simply no mistaking the iconic red facade among the multi-coloured buildings of Positano.
What also makes Le Sirenuse legendary is the view, which I spotted as soon as I walked in. Just step out of the lobby and on to a balcony and the curve of Positano is at your feet, with views of the Cathedral of St Mary and Positano beach. In the words of legendary author, John Steinbeck, ‘Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.’ Steinbeck himself stayed at Le Sirenuse and little has changed since his 1953 visit when he described it as ‘an old family house converted into a first class hotel, spotless and cool with grape arbors over its outside dining rooms.’
His visit came soon after the hotel opened in 1951 when four Neapolitan siblings, Aldo, Paolo, Anna and Franco Sersale decided to turn their summer house in Positano into a beautiful hotel. I was as enchanted as Steinbeck as I stepped through those doors and was not only surrounded by beautiful views and architecture but by the warmth of the staff. It’s easy to see why Le Sirenuse is not only one of the most luxurious hotel in Italy, it is one of the most celebrated around the world.
Franco Sersale, an art connoisseur who was the forerunner in establishing the signature style of Le Sirenuse, sadly died in 2015 but the baton was passed to his son Antonio who looks after the running of the hotel.
If like us, you arrive at around 1pm, the restaurant will probably be your first port of call. Michelin-starred La Sponda serves light Mediterranean cuisine, inspired by the Amalfi coast.
The interiors of the restaurant are just gorgeous with turquoise tiles and huge picture windows framed by vines, looking out onto that spectacular view.
There is an outdoor covered area so that you can escape the heat of the midday sun…
Or you can take the best seat in the house on the terrace by the pool – an area reserved for hotel guests only.
The food was just divine and we ate there for lunch twice enjoying a bowl of steaming mussels, pizzetta, fresh fish and plenty of pasta all paired with out favourite rosé. Chef Gennaro Russo was 29 when he took the reigns at La Sponda in 2016 having worked in legendary Parisian Michelin-starred restaurants Lasserre and L’Ambroisie. His menu here focuses on Mediterranean cuisine with the top priority being use of local and high quality ingredients.
Breakfast as an absolute dream, served in the most beautiful room and eaten out on the terrace with that view… a true-pinch-yourself moment.
With a buffet of every kind of baked good that you can imagine, as well gorgeous fresh fruit, fresh meats and cheeses, there was also an à la carte menu and eggs to order.
By night La Sponda turns into the world’s most romantic restaurant…illuminated by the light of 400 candles and sounds of accordian music in the air, the atmosphere is just utterly magical.
The dinner menu showcased the freshest of seasonal vegetables, beautifully made and prepared pasta, fresh seafood and a deliciously light dessert.
Or you can spend your evening in the hotel’s dazzling Champagne Bar & Grill taking in the gorgeous views. Relax with an aperitif of bubbles or spend the evening here eating from a more casual menu with options from the fresh seafood bar.
A newish addition to the hotel, but already legendary, is Franco’s bar, named after the late owner. Before was arrived at the hotel, other people that we met spoke of the atmosphere at Franco’s Bar as easily the most beautiful and sophisticated bar in the area. Unfortunately we were never told Franco’s was separate from hotel and I assumed it was the terrace next to Champagne Bar, I only realised later that it was next door and we’d missed out on experiencing it.
And what I’d most be looking forward to seeing? That iconic pool, fringed with lemon trees…
Did you ever see such a beauty? And if you’re looking for beachwear to match the Italian elegance then you can check out the Emporio Sireneuse boutique located opposite the hotel. Carla, Antonio’s wife designs Le Sirenuse Positano Mare Collection, beachwear and womenswear inspired by the location. You can also find Le Sirenuse special fragrance and skincare line Eau d’Italie created by Paolo’s daughter Marina and her husband Sebastián Alvarez Murena, everything is kept very much in the family.
A few steps away from the pool is the spa, decked out in teak, marble and steel… there’s a sauna, steam bath and gym as well as a romantic couples suite.
There are beautiful public rooms with gorgeous interiors, characterised by the distinctive ceramic tiles on the floor.
From the hotel it’s a short walk (that does involve quite a lot of stairs) down to the beach. I loved seeing Positano beach for the first time properly but I will say it’s very crowded and quite touristy so those looking for more relaxing beach experience may want to choose Il San Pietro di Positano which has a private beach.
There are 58 rooms in the hotel and we opted for a Deluxe Sea View, not every room at Le Sirenuse has a balcony and a sea view but personally I believe the view is part of the reason for staying there and worth the extra cost. Speaking of which I will say again the value for money in the Amalfi Coast isn’t good, the rooms are small and they are expensive. Now that’s out of the way as I don’t like to talk about money, I will say the room was beautifully appointed with the most stunning floor tiles and Frette linens.
Every room is different and each contains both antique and modern furniture… we were welcomed with a bottle of Prosecco and a selection of fruit and nuts while in the evening a hand-made Italian chocolate was left for us to enjoy. There are other thoughtful additions such as a book by Steinbeck and a beautiful blank notebook so that you can write your own story of your stay at Le Sirenuse.
The bathroom is stunning, clad all in marble with a selection of the Eau d’Italie products produced by the Sersale family. Again, the bathroom is small and there’s no separate shower cubicle.
And of course the balcony… ah that beautiful balcony…the perfect place to sip your evening prosecco, watch the sun rise or just gaze out to the higgledy-piggledy buildings of Positano which resemble badly stacked book shelves. The hotel was named after Le Sirenuse, a small group of islands visible from Positano and refers the mythological Sirens said to have lived there. The Sirens were known for playing music to tempt ships to their destruction, a story told in Homer’s Odyssey and a phrase that is now used in modern vernacular to describe temptation.
I will never forget my stay at Le Sirenuse and just like Steinbeck and so many after him, I truly fell in love with this legendary place…
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Via Cristoforo Colombo, 30
84017 Positano (SA) Italia
+39 089 875066