When visiting Positano on Italy’s famous Amalfi Coast, one hotel stands out from the rest. Luxury boutique Le Sirenuse is almost as famous as the coastal town’s picturesque cliffsides itself with its ox-blood with white trim exterior the backdrop of some of the most serene images taken from one of the most coveted holiday destinations in the world. 

Once the private residence of the Neopolitan Sersale family, who relocated to Positano at the close of the Second World War, Le Sirenuse was transformed from a family home to a hotel in 1951, opening with just eight rooms. It’s since been expanded into adjacent buildings and painted its recognisable colourway, but the feel of entering a family home — albeit that of your most cultured, artistic and sophisticated friend’s parents — remains. So too do the Sersales, albeit a different generation of them.

Upon arrival, guests are greeted by friendly staff who give a book of activities taking place that week. We’d already been planning to visit Nerano for a Stanley Tucci-approved Spaghetti alla Nerano and had been looking up boat options to tour the coast. Le Sirenuse had that taken care of: free of charge, leaving from the dock every afternoon, we could get one the hotel’s boats to take us along the coast – with a pause for swimming – before dropping us to have lunch at any of the coastal town’s restaurants of our choosing. (Sienna Miller, who was a guest of the hotel during our stay, chose the same way to spend her Saturday). A morning pilates class in the hotel’s gym, a walking tour of Positano and a wine tasting were also on offer, so too was a sunset cruise with champagne (this one at an additional cost).  

Le Sirenuse’s 58 rooms and suites are individually furnished and each different from the next. I recently saw one posted to Instagram showing a bed with a head and footboard painted with horses, while others have colourful fabric dotting their exterior to rival that of the bespoke tiles on the floor. On the walls and furnishings are an eclectic collection of museum-quality antiques and paintings, while a Le Sirenuse-embossed beach bag sits atop the bed for use of all hotel guests during their stay. Chic white marble bathrooms are supplied with generous quantities of the delicious in-house Eau d’Italie products, made by the owner’s cousin.

Everything, from the bespoke hand-made tiles on the floors of reception to the artwork on the walls, is carefully curated, making Le Sirenuse look as much like a gallery as it is a hotel. But though this sounds like the Instagram girlie’s dream – and, make no mistake, the hotel’s exterior has been ‘grammed many a time, even by the likes of Instagram reigning queen Kylie Jenner – Le Sirenuse’s aesthetics were curated long before people were booking hotels with the perfect shot in mind, and it too will long outlast that traveller’s urge. 

In 1992, Franco Sersale’s son Antonio and wife Carla took over Le Sirenuse with their two sons, Francesco and Aldo, joining the family business in 2021. In 2015, after Franco passed away, Antonio and Carla, who live just down the road from Le Sirenuse for seven months of the year, began to further expand the hotel’s collection of contemporary art by commissioning a series of site-specific installations and by inviting artists to Le Sirenuse as part of a residency programme. Artists would stay, get inspired, and create. Over lunch, Carla told me of her current art project, one that if it’s accomplished will further cement Le Sirenuse into the history books. 

Despite the crowd it attracts due to its aesthetics, Le Sirenuse is chic but not stuffy. Something I put solely down to the Sersale family’s vibe. Despite all the art lining the walls and the vintage pieces dotted throughout, at no point do you feel a pressure to look or dress a certain way. In fact, the more relaxed the better. To really fit the part, across the hotel piazza are two boutiques, Emporio Sirenuse, from which you can buy beautifully, handmade caftans, summer dresses, hats and high-end hotel merchandise only available in-store. 

It would be remiss not to spend an entire paragraph (or three!) talking about Le Sirenuse’s buffet breakfast because it was, without a doubt, the best breakfast experience of my 31 long years of life. When done well, a buffet breakfast can be one of the best parts of a hotel stay and Le Sirenuse understands this better than any I’ve visited. Taking advantage of their glorious views, the hotel sets the buffet up outside its restaurant, La Sponda, when weather permits or inside one of its chic dining rooms with the pool to one side and views of the ocean on the other. 

Not only was there the most expansive selection of fresh fruit, freshly baked pastries and focaccia, cheeses and cakes, but an al a carte menu filled with pancakes (delicious), eggs (perfectly cooked) and doughnuts brought around (illegally good). So too was a copy of the paper and never-ending pots of freshly brewed coffee. Just writing about it now (and revisiting my camera roll that’s still full of videos and photos of the food) makes me want to rebook.

Unsurprisingly, a late lunch at La Sponda was also unfussy but impeccable. The menu is Italian – naturally – and we shared lobster pasta on colourful ceramic plates over wine with a tiramisu to finish: the best tiramisu we had across our three-week trip in the country, and that’s saying something. 

La Sponda
Bar Aldo’s

Though the words ‘family-run’ are almost synonymous with that of a boutique hotel’s elevator pitch, never have I seen the phrase embodied in the way it is at Le Sirenuse. The hotel has unparalleled views over Positano, interiors to die for, and a restaurant that’s so good it makes getting a booking in peak season all but impossible, but perhaps the best thing about it is the friendly, welcoming family that run it. Not only does this translate in the atmosphere you feel, but through the staff who greet you upon arrival, and every subsequent staff member you encounter from then on. It feels no surprise that when we asked one how long he’d worked for the Sersales, he answered ‘17 years.’

This translates to guests, too, many of whom return year after year to the comforts of Le Sirenuse. While sitting poolside, we saw a woman arrive and proceed to greet all of the staff like they were extended family members and when I text my partner saying, “I’m writing about Le Sirenuse and it’s making me miss it,” he quickly responded, “I miss it, too”. Thus the booking of dates for next season — and the subsequent quest to become these same seasoned regulars — began.