castellabate : campania : italy

In my book, a “cool” place to stay doesn’t need to be hip and trendy and cutting edge. It just needs to be somewhere that isn’t bog-standard. And this place we stumbled upon – quite literally – in Castellabate, Campania is very cool, if like us, you like things that are a little bit different.

We’d taken the coastal road south from Sperlonga – and although only 136 km it was a long drive, as the road isn’t straight. We stopped off in Salerno hoping to get a room, but unfortunately had arrived in town when the Italian postal workers were holding a national conference. No room at the inn, so on we carried. Paestum was the next obvious stop – and I remembered the name from history lessons – but it was difficult on a dark October night (it was after 9pm by this time) to summon up any enthusiasm for the town, simply because we couldn’t obviously find anywhere to stay. This is a big regret of our trip to Italy as I’ve since really looked into Paestum and the history geek in me WILL be returning. The upside though of not finding anywhere on route, meant that we discovered the next place – Castellabate.

Although to be fair, we didn’t realise this until the next day. We were shattered, and a bit lost to be honest, so pulled into a car park in a what seemed to be a typical old, Italian hill town. By sheer coincidence, where we’d parked the car, we saw a sign, half covered with ivy, which seemed to say “Albergo” – and although it was now quite late, we thought we’d at least make an enquiry. And, wow – how glad are we that Salerno was full of postal workers? This was a GEM and we simply cannot recommend it highly enough…

Despite the lateness, and our lack of Italian, Franca, the lovely owner, immediately came to our rescue! The albergo is quite literally a “castle” – very old, beautifully furnished and just stunning. We were shown the most incredible en-suite apartment – a huge bedroom & bathroom, with exposed ancient stone walls, mosaic tiled floors, beautiful furniture & the most comfortable bed, with crisp white bedding. Although not modern in terms of furnishings, the bedroom & bathroom were spotless. We took it without hesitation.

If you are looking for a real get-away-from-it-all, we couldn’t recommend this gem highly enough. It is family run, and run with obvious love. Breakfast was amazing – fruit, breads, cheese, meats, juices, coffee, preserves – and all made with produce from the gardens where possible. The terrace where we had breakfast, even in late September, was full of flowers and foliage and with a stunning view down to the sea & across the countryside. (There is also a roof terrace with loungers).

The hotel (although as it’s far removed from a “hotel” as you can imagine) is just stunning – as is Castellabate. Another find, highly recommended by us. But, keep it quiet – we don’t want everyone going there.

update : november 2023

It’s over ten years since we stayed at this beautiful castello in Castellabate and I recently checked to see if was still open. It looks as if the owners who had it when we were there sold it in 2018 and it has been completely refurbished by the new owners. It looks bloomin’ amazing – even better than in 2013, when we found it to be magical – so I guess it’s back on our list of places to revisit

Published on 1st February 2014