Review: Monastero Santa Rosa
Perched on the edge of a cliff just outside the quaint and sleepy fishing village of Conca dei Marini
LOCATION: Perched on the edge of a cliff just outside the quaint and sleepy fishing village of Conca dei Marini on the beautiful Amalfi Coast, over the deep blue Bay of Salerno. The property is around a 10-minutes’ drive from the town of Amalfi, with a free shuttle service on offer for guests.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: I first spotted this imposing building from a road at the bottom of the cliff it sits upon, en route from Postiano where I’d previously stayed. On arriving at the entrance it’s impossible not to be impressed. Converted from a 17th century convent, the property is incredibly stylish while retaining features referencing its fascinating history and the nuns who resided there. A confessional remains in place, while smaller notes, such as the do not disturb signs featuring the faces of nuns, provide another nod to the site’s heritage. It didn’t take me long to decide this was one of my favourite hotels in the world.
THE FACTS: The building dates back to 1681 when Sister Rosa Pandolfi funded the project to build a convent dedicated to Saint Rose of Lima. It operated as a monastery until the mid-1800s. The site first became a hotel in 1924 but was eventually left empty and unused. In 2000, the current owner, American Bianca Sharma, was sailing on the gulf when she spotted the ruins of the monastery. She bought the property and spent the next 12 years restoring and transforming it into the luxury boutique hotel it is today. The 20-suite hotel is surrounded by garden terraces which cascade down the cliff face, giving guests a guaranteed calf muscle workout during their stay. All rooms have spectacular views of the bay and along the Amalfi Coast, offering endless picture-perfect views the area is renowned for. The hotel boosts an enormous spa (more on that later), a restaurant, a separate roof-top terrace bar, an outdoor gym and petanque green, and a stunning heated infinity pool. The latter is without doubt one of the best spots along this epic coastline, especially on days when the blue of the pool water, the sea and the sky all merge into one another.
FOOD: As you’d expect in a land known for its cuisine, the culinary offering here is tantalisingly good. Guests will eat well day and night. Breakfast is course after course of deliciousness, with a harp player often performing for guests while they dine. Ensure you sample a pastry called sfogliatelle; another tribute to the nuns who first baked this delicious treat on site in its convent days. After dark, Michelin-starred restaurant Il Refetorio comes into its own with divine dishes such as my favourite – burrata, served alongside an outstanding risotto.
EXPLORE: Make use of the hotel’s free shuttle service to the town of Amalfi. After exploring the town itself, which boasts a beautiful Duomo and countless lemon farms, recommend visitors venture further afield. Hop on a ferry bound for either Positano or Capri to further explore this Italian slice of heaven.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling brave, hire a car and venture down the coast on four wheels. But beware, this method isn’t for the fainthearted - the roads are incredibly narrow and windy, and they are often overrun by large buses shipping travellers up and down the Amalfi Coast.
WOW: Guests staying here won’t fail to be impressed. The property’s design and grandeur, the history that comes with it, and the location combine to ensure of that.
My favourite feature was the spa, which with its beautiful 17th century vaulted ceilings and rustic walls provides a very special setting for a session of TLC. Here you’ll find hydro pools, a sauna, aromatic steam rooms, ‘experience’ and ‘emotion’ showers, a double-height tepidarium and a crushed ice fountain. All that, and a huge array of spa treatments, mean guests could easily spend hours relaxing here.
Hollie is editor of Aspire’s print and online products. She is responsible for the running of the club and ensuring the content produced and the events organised are relevant to the Aspire audience. She was previously deputy news editor and cruise writer for sister title Travel Weekly. She loves exploring new destinations and is gradually ticking new countries off her list. She most enjoys writing about cruise, South America and Japan. Before working in the travel industry she held news reporting roles at the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.