Luxury

The Checklist: Hotels to Stay in Before You Die

by Ondine Cohane

LE SIRENUSE, Positano, Italy

In a time when some of Italy's most famous hotels are being gobbled up by international conglomerates and slick management companies, the small and family-owned Le Sirenuse holds its head high on the Amalfi Coast as a bastion of glamour, luxury, and independent personality. After all, you want Italy, not the corporate approximation of it. Most nights, owners Franco Sersale and son Antonio can be found chatting with guests at the bar or in the restaurant. The family touch is everywhere, from the antiques in the living rooms to the carefully restored private boat, ideal for jaunts to Capri.

Those touches keep this legendary place feeling like the getaway of a well-connected Italian friend instead of a mere hotel. And then there is the location: The 18th-century palazzo sits above the colorful town of Positano, a charming tangle of pastel buildings and church domes leading to the shimmer of the sea below. Two caveats: You must must must get a room with a view of the Mediterranean (the higher the floor, the better) or it's just not worth the money, and don't book a trip in vastly overcrowded August. Consider instead April and May, when the weather is sunny but cool and the tourist troupes haven't arrived for the summer circus. Now that's Italy.

Le Sirenuse
Tel: 39 089 875 066
Doubles from $508; sea-view doubles from $915

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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