The Amalfi coast – that winding strip on the Sorrentine Peninsula – can be tizzy. A glance at the crowd – billionaires, movie stars and wannabes tricked out in designer logo regalia tell you this. As do bedecked restaurants serving Caprese salads and lobster spaghetti on ornate plating. And then there’s the yachts. It’s a pretentious place, one of unrestrained Italian glamour and dizzying opulence. That is until you step into Casa Angelina Lifestyle. Like many of the hotels dotted along the craggy coast, Casa Angelina is tucked in a nook off the main road. Driving down the Strada Statale – the hot wind lashing your sun-kissed skin, the scent of lemon in the air – you’d miss it. In fact, it sits in a nook almost of its own, private and reclusive. And herein lies its charm. You see, the Amalfi coast is not discreet. Almost everything here is to show and be seen, even more veritable now in the digital age. And yet Casa Angelina almost feels opposed to this. It’s a haven to be enjoyed quietly, discreetly, secretly.
But then it is also part of the party. They say the best way to enjoy Positano’s beauty is looking up at it – from the sea, from neighbouring Praiano, or in this case, from Casa Angelina. It just so happens that Ms Angelina occupies arguably the best vantage point; on the water’s edge of Praiano (Positano’s charming, less obnoxious sister), looking up at the pastel-coloured fishing village-turned modern day tourist cradle. It also just so happens that she is a beauty – but not in the conventional Amalfi way. Firstly, she is white. In stark contrast to the incongruous colour combinations of the rest of the coastline, Casa Angelina is a shade of white so pure, it’s hard to imagine how she stays so. This white, after the vertiginous palette of the province, is beautifully refreshing after big gulps of crazy colour.
She is also kind. Very kind. The type of geniality often absent in the touristy Italian hubs of the Costiera Amalfitana, every resplendent turn is met with a smile and genuine affability. And finally, she is minimal. Clean lines and a wholly contemporary aesthetic, there is a simplicity to her which is just so lovely.
This theme of minimality continues to her rooms, which are, of course, sheathed in crisp white. But not just any white, Etro white; all linen and towelling is courtesy of the famed Italian design house (haute robing, indeed). The room itself is spacious and functional, everything has its place. Technology is advanced including a very handy Apple iPad and fast Wi-Fi (very important for all the social uploads you can’t help but do). The bathroom is stocked with luxurious toiletries from Jo Malone and L’Occitane. The design is superior; Driade chairs, Philippe Starck lighting and Gandia Blasco sunbeds (for those in suites). But it is almost beyond the boudoir that is the true masterpiece.
A quaint terrace looks onto a not so quaint view – spectacular and surreal. Rinsed in light, sun pours into the room flooding the space with the glowing brilliance of Campania. Like magic, a perfect storm brews outside as I lie amongst a sea of white pillows, Prosecco in hand (which welcomed me on ice, grazie). The Gods are playing tricks this day (perhaps because I complained about their laborious walk just hours earlier), and the fickle Amalfi weather has taken a turn. But these bolts of lightning and grumpy, puffed-up clouds make for a vista the stuff of dreams; like a work of art hanging in a Roman gallery. Or the Casa Angelina lobby.
A lover of contemporary art, Casa Angelina moonlights as a gallery. A luxury boutique hotel with an impeccable eye for design, she boasts original, intriguing pieces from some of the most prolific modern artists of our time. Hand-picked and wildly eclectic, her all-white backdrop makes a striking proposition for pops of unexpected colour. There’s the whimsical ceramics of Mexican sculptor Sergio Bustamante, an expressive sun and moon which both frown and smile at you when you walk past. Then the playful glass realisations of Cuban artist Alfredo Sosabravo’s oil paintings and drawings, rendered in kaleidoscopic Venetian Murano glass. The distinctive bronze forms of French sculpter, Etienne. The impressionist-influenced paintings by Argentinian-born Patricia Valencia Carstens. Even the colourful patina-coated bronze figurines of splayed frogs from Tim Cotterill (named “The Frogman” because of his preoccupation with the long-legged amphibians) also punctuate the hotel’s public spaces.
They say the devil is in the details, and if this is so, Angelina is dancing with him. Everything is immaculate. Considered. Pristine. An abundant lemon orchard hangs over the infinity pool. So plentiful and full of lemons, you could make the region’s entire batch of Limoncello off this one grove. A cobalt blue sculpture refracts with the morning sunlight. The grand piano sits erect and stoic, waiting for an aperitivo concerto. Whilst breakfast has to be seen (or tasted) to be believed. Hot pastries. Italian cakes. A cheese board the stuff of dreams. Whether you speak English (eggs and bacon) or Italian (mozzarella and basil), there is an option for just about every palette.
And for alfresco dining, nothing beats a spot by the pool, Spritz in hand, soaking up a view so great words alone would serve it an injustice. The vongole is superb and arrives in the pot, unravelled with theatre by the chef onto your plate. Soak up its juices with home-baked bread, whilst a Caprese with garden-grown basil and Sorrentine tomatoes also hits the spot. Also mandatory is the local drop, a Lemon Spritz, a zingy ode to its Italian cousin with a little more bite, it’s simply perfecto, and just the thing to wash a spaghetti and spritz down with.
But a stay at Casa Angelina isn’t complete without a trip to la spiaggia, or the beach. And you don’t have to go far to enjoy a dip. At the base of Casa Angelina sits one of the most iconic beach clubs in the Campania region, One Fire Beach Club. Bright orange beach beds lie like Italian sardines (very chic ones), as the orange theme continues from umbrella to Aperol. A lift takes you from the hotel down to a cove of glistening green and blue, where you can feel the beating pulse of One Fire with chunks of watermelon at “Melon Time” (an One Fire icon) and a beachside boogie. Or, for a quieter patch of paradise, veer to the right slightly and Casa Angelina’s own private beach, La Gavitella, awaits; pristine and suitably serene, it is reserved for Casa Angelina guests only. A kingdom at the foot of a castle (or Casa).
Perhaps the only thing better than returning to your room at the end of a long, hot day is waking up in it. That view. The morning sunlight. A strong espresso. Pure perfection.
A true gem, Casa Angelina is the place you want to wake up in, belly full of burrata and wine; happy and most importantly, relaxed. La dolce vita? You bet.