Il San Pietro di Positano Wins Luxist's Editors' Choice Award for Best in Summer Travel
At the famous Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show in 2006, the Queen of England traipsed through a garden of hibiscus and bougainvillea inspired by the terraces of Italy's Il San Pietro di Positano-and liked what she saw.
"The Queen appreciated the display at the flower show, but has never been at the San Pietro," says the hotel's Lorenzo Saprio. "Her sister, Princess Margaret, was a frequent visitor."
Fortunately for the rest of the world, that experience can also be enjoyed by people who aren't members of the British royal family. Perched on the cliffs above the bay of Postitano with sweeping views of the town John Steinbeck once described as "a dream place that isn't quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone," Il San Pietro di Positano is our pick for the Editors' Choice Award in Best Summer Travel.
The hotel features 61 rooms hewn into the rock, each with its own spectacular view and unparalleled privacy. A staff of 127 people buzzes about the resort, looking after guests as they stroll from orchid-filled lobby to dichondra-decked terrace, spacious swimming pool to state-of-the-art fitness center, all the way down to an umbrella-dotted sun deck set just a few feet above the rocky shore.
Gallery: Hotel Il San Pietro di Positano
Il San Pietro was founded in 1970 by Carlo "Carlino" Cinque. Carlino had been in the hospitality business since opening a smaller hotel in the heart of Positano all the way back in 1934, when he was just 23 years old. He chose Il San Pietro's location, Saprio says, for its enviable position overlooking the town of Positano on Italy's Amalfi Coast.
With the stylish, charismatic, and detail-oriented Carlino at the helm, San Pietro di Positano quickly became the premier hotspot for glamorous visitors to the Amalfi Coast. Over the decades, high-profile guests included Barbara Streisand, Dustin Hoffman, Tina Turner and the King of Jordan; Keith Richards and Mick Jagger reportedly wrote the song "Midnight Rambler" while vacationing in Positano. Guests at San Pietro would see Carlino traversing the grounds in his trademark aviator sunglasses and straw hat, ever dapper and charming.
When Carlino passed away in 1984, he left a gaping void in the resort's emotional and historical fabric, but his niece Virginia and her husband Salvatore were able to keep Il San Pietro in the family by taking over. Salvatore managed the hotel while Virginia served as its publicist, earning the resort the honor of being the first color picture in the Los Angeles Times. In 1989, their work was affirmed as Il San Pietro joined the prestigious Relais et Chateaux group of international luxury hotels.
These days, patrons are reminded of Il San Pietro's founder by the Michelin-spangled restaurant within the resort that bears his name. Shuttle buses allow easy access to Positano's attractions, from the Church of Santa Maria Assunta to the remnants of the seaside fishing village that Steinbeck loved so much.
You may well need to be a successful pearl diver to afford a room at San Pietro. Rates start at 420 Euros per night and ramp up to 1,350 Euros during the peak summer season. But for travelers looking for the finest slice of the Amalfi Coast, San Pietro is hard to beat.