Set in a medieval palazzo on the highest point of Ravello (1,150 feet), overlooking an incomparable panorama of the Bay of Salerno, this has always been considered a corner of paradise. The beloved Ravello landmark reopened in 2005 after an extensive renovation. Many hailed the new Caruso as a benchmark of 21st-century luxury, while others mourned the loss of its 19th-century patina. In decades past the hotel was a favored home away from home for the likes of Virginia
Woolf, Tennessee Williams, and even the Khedive of Egypt, who came to savor the yesteryear charm, the spectacularly frescoed gran salone, and the pretty terrace restaurant. But as guest rooms had become threadbare, Orient-Express Hotels commissioned a restoration overseen by Professor Antonio Forcellino (his resume includes Michelangelo's Moses), aided by the Italian designer Federico Forquet.
Today, fans rave about the new rooftop dining area and heated infinity pool. The lush hillside garden includes an herb garden that provides seasoning for the renowned Belvedere restaurant—too bad that the famous belvedere, set with Gothic windows and for centuries a postcard icon of the Amalfi Coast, has been reduced to a beige-on-beige cocktail lobby. Happy guests, however, now enjoy it as a pleasing perch where they can savor a great Bellini and study the Roman ruins unearthed during the restoration. Rooms are truly sumptuous, most with a sea view, some with a private garden, and guests are welcomed with strawberries and champagne. The bar's patrons are welcome to wrap up the evening, as Rod Stewart once did, by joining the pianist for a song.