The azure sea is dotted with handcrafted timber sailboats. Incidental fishing lines trail in their wake as the occupants sleepily savour the Mediterranean sun. Nearby, a portly fisherman hits the water. He surfaces, rolls over and floats on his back like a reclining otter – a hairy paunch protruding from the salty brine to salute the sky. Meanwhile, below the surface, the superhighway of frutti de mare swims by. If they’re lucky, they’ll escape the dinner plate tonight.
Watching over this celebrated coastline, weathered villas and occasional hotels jostle for space and their share of the sea view. Terrace by terrace, the edifices rise up towards the craggy cliff top and the famed coastal walk – the Path of the Gods. The nearby Church bell tolls. It’s breathtaking.
For as long as I can remember I have daydreamed about visiting the Amalfi Coast. And from this terrace room with a view at the Hotel Margherita in the small Italian village of Praiano I had it all in front of me.
Hotel Margherita is a family-run guesthouse located on via Umberto in the village of Praiano – 7km from Positano in one direction and 8km from Amalfi in the other. You can easily travel between the villages by local bus, which conveniently stops at the hotel door. The hotel reception sells bus tickets to Positano. You can by tickets for the Amalfi bus at the nearby tabacchi.
There are 28 rooms, each with its own terrace, telephone, ADSL modem socket, flatscreen satellite television with Sky, radio, minibar and air conditioning. Wifi is available downstairs in the spacious lounge area. The bathroom is generously sized with a shower with reliable hot water, bidet, hairdryer and courtesy kit. The shared outdoor swimming pool and sun lounge area is a peaceful retreat overlooking the sea. Our room is large, light and breezy with seriously spectacular views from our private terrace.
Our hosts are Suela and her husband Andrea. It was Suela’s parents Margherita and Giuseppe, former local restaurateurs, who renovated their family home to build the hotel. Today, keeping faithful to their spirit, Suela and Andrea ensure guests at the Hotel Margherita enjoy lovingly prepared food and quality service throughout their stay. This was certainly our experience.
It was late one afternoon when we realised we were short of cash to pay for an excursion early the next morning. Suela advised that the ATM – 500m up the road – was currently empty but that it was due to be filled soon. She would let us know when that was and insisted in driving us there! Another morning we were leaving before breakfast was served to walk the Path of the Gods between Praiano and Positano. The staff would not let us leave without taking a sustaining picnic of traditional homemade cakes, pastries and bottled water plus an espresso to go. Breakfast at Hotel Margherita is included in your tariff and is not to be missed!
Praiano is the perfect destination if you wish to remove yourself from the busyness of Positano and the endless tourist buses in Amalfi. There are good services within walking distance including a store that also sells alcohol, a pizzeria, a laundry and a tabacchi. La Praia beach is a 20 minute walk down the hill from Hotel Margherita but the staff will drive you there and back if you prefer. There is a great bar and restaurant there called Il Pirata. The walk home after dinner is not that well lit so maybe take them up on the offer of a ride!
If you don’t feel like venturing out in the evening, Hotel Margherita’s restaurant m’ama serves authentic Italian food including local seafood, pastas, risotto and gnocchi. At twilight the view from the restaurant up and down the twinkling coast is magical. Make sure you book, as m’ama is open to the public and, with that view, it’s a popular romantic destination.
Located on the stunning Sorrento Peninsula, Hotel Margherita is a 23km drive from Sorrento or 69km from Naples. If you’re not confident on driving the windy, narrow and hair-raising roads, I suggest taking a driver so you can enjoy the scenery and arrive in peace – and in one piece! My tip is to ask the Hotel Margherita staff to arrange a driver for you as you are sure to get a cheaper price than doing it yourself.
Service and serenity are a winning combination at the delightful Hotel Margherita. Guests return annually for Suela and Andrea’s hospitality in a family-run setting and I can understand why.
Now … it’s time to daydream about my next visit…