Hotel Margherita: A Hidden Gem on the Amalfi Coast

Can I let you in on a secret? Promise not to tell anyone? I’ve found (well, really my mom found) a hotel on the Amalfi Coast with world class service, Wi-Fi, and even a pool (yes a pool!) and it won’t set you back several thousand Euros. Miracles happen, right?

Hotel Margherita: A Hidden Gem on the Amalfi Coast

When I first dreamed of visiting the famous Italian coastline after seeing countless Gray Malin photos, I thought it would simply be too expensive. Hotels like Santa Caterina in Amalfi or the famous Le Sireneuse in Positano are iconic and luxurious but not attainable for someone like me. Staying somewhere within my price range conjured up images of schlepping it to a dingy B&B with run-down facilities. Since finding Hotel Margherita, however, I think anyone’s dream Amalfi Coast vacation is within reach. Now just don’t tell too many people – I’d like to be able to book a room next year!

Arrival & Check In
From the moment you arrive at Hotel Margherita, you experience their five-star service. Suela and Gennaro greeted us how everyone should be greeted: “Beer or wine?” Check-in was quick,  and they helped carry our bags to our room, all while giving us a tour of the grounds. We definitely appreciated the efficient and warm welcome after a winding drive along the curvy coast (Italian drivers know how to keep you on your toes!).

Hotel Margherita on the Amalfi CoastThe view from the terrace. A stunning start to our stay.

Location
Carved into the cliffs above the Mediterranean, Hotel Margherita is in the picturesque town of Praiano, located ten minutes south of Positano and 25 minutes north of Amalfi. The ideal location, Praiano is close to the action, but without the hustle and bustle and heaving crowds of tourist. You truly feel like you’re staying in an authentic Italian town.

Approaching Praiano by water taxiApproaching Praiano by water taxi, my preferred mode of transportation.

Transportation
While you may not be located steps from the beach or right in the center of town, transportation to these attractions are seamless. A bus to Positano leaves right from in front of the hotel every hour and only costs a couple of euros. Additionally, the hotel offers a free shuttle to the local beach and goes above and beyond to make your transportation stress-free. We went to dinner at Locanda Costa Diva, at a neighboring hotel, and Suela offered a van to take us there without even having to ask her – free of charge. They’re incredible.

Praia BeachThis magical beach is a quick and free shuttle ride away.

Service
Not only is service exceptional when it comes to transportation, but your entire stay at Hotel Margherita will also feel like luxury 5 star service, yet without the hefty price tag. The staff truly surpasses all expectations and do so with a smile on their faces. We had lunch brought to our room, had tours and cars arranged for us, and were always made to feel at home. There’s a reason they have the rare, flawless 5 star rating on TripAdvisor.

Lunch on the balcony at Hotel MargheritaAfter a long, sweaty day of shopping in Positano, the hotel brought this mouth-watering spaghetti to our room for me to enjoy on our balcony – after the restaurant had finished lunch service.

Rooms
Rooms at Hotel Margherita are classic and simple. You aren’t going to get over the top or super expensive decor, but your room will be comfortable, clean and tasteful. Our bathroom was the standout with intricate blue tile-work and a tub with a window overlooking the ocean. Almost all rooms have a balcony, and I would definitely pay any extra fee for an ocean view. It’s truly surreal  to wake up to the glistening Mediterranean Sea every morning. Wifi and Sky satellite TV are included, but you’ll be too busy soaking in the sun or eating more spaghetti with clams than you should to use them.

Hotel Margherita RoomPhoto of a guest room from the hotel website. I dropped the ball and was too entranced by my Amalfi Coast daydream to remember to take a photo of ours!

Dining
The hotel restaurant, Ristorante M’ama! was delicious and situated on a terrace, so you can watch the sun set as you savor your seafood and pasta. We also made daily use of the free breakfast included in your room rate. I feasted on freshly made omelettes, pastries, local fruit and wayyyyyy too much nutella. All topped off with a cappuccino of course! You’ll need that energy if you’re going to jet off to a beach club or Capri. This fresh and filling breakfast is also a money-saving option if you are on a budget – fill up in the morning and avoid an expensive lunch at a tourist trap in one of the neighboring towns.

Processed with VSCO with a1 presetMassive amounts of nutella not pictured. Probably in my stomach.

Amenities – aka that pool!
In addition to the aforementioned restaurant and sun terrace, the real jewel of the hotel grounds is its infinity pool. By no means a lap pool, it’s still so satisfying to dip into after a long day spent on a boat, hiking, or simply after rolling out of bed. It’s saltwater, and there are plenty of sunbeds nearby for your sun worship. My parents stayed at a different hotel on their previous trip to the Amalfi Coast and really regretted not having a pool. It can get scorching during summer holiday season, so you’ll be thankful for the opportunity of a quick refreshing soak.

The pool at Hotel Margherita on the Amalfi CoastThe pool, midday. That’s me! Probably in a daze that I’m actually in that dream of a location.

Hotel Margherita at duskCandy colored skies at dusk. No filter necessary.

Areas for improvement?
The only reason I wouldn’t recommend staying at Hotel Margherita is if you absolutely HAVE to be right on the beach or in the middle of “the action” in Positano or Amalfi. Even then, I think the hotel goes to great lengths to make both of those things very accessible, so it’s still difficult for me to not recommend it to anyone and everyone. Seriously, just stay here. As long as there’s still space for me too 🙂

Where to book: https://www.hotelmargherita.info/bookonline.htm
How to get there: Fly or take a train into Naples. From there, take a bus or hire a car to take you to the hotel. The drive is about 2 hours, and Hotel Margherita helped us book a driver who was friendly, reliable and fairly priced.
Price: About $200/night depending on when you go and what room you book.
Tips: Book as far in advance as possible. The hotel is boutique, so it will fill up during the busy season (July-August are busiest). There is an elevator, so rolling luggage is fine. If you have any questions or need special arrangements, email Suela. She won’t steer you wrong.
Would I go back? In a heartbeat. It’s not a matter of if, but when!

Hotel Margherita on the Amalfi COast

Arrivederla – or see you soon!

Amalfi Coast style:

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Capri Whirlwind: Tips for Visiting the Island

On our first full day on the Amalfi Coast, we were given a whirlwind course in its beauty by a day trip to the famed island of Capri. Our lovely hotel hosts had recommended a boat excursion and we knew little of what to expect. Typically, I’m a very type A travel planner, yearning for control and a full itinerary, but on this day I decided to surrender to going with the flow. Of course, being me, I had a few things I knew I wanted to do (lunch at il Riccio was one), but we’d see where the day and our Italian boat hosts would take us. After going into the experience blind, there are definitely a few things I wish I would have known before our trip. I’ve interspersed these tips within my travelogue of our dreamy day on Capri.
Our day started early – catching our boat at Praia beach. Luckily, our hotel had a driver, Gennaro, that shuttled us down the rocky cliffs to the beach, where we patiently awaited our water transport. Gennaro told us that someone would meet us there, but I will say that it wasn’t totally clear how we were to find our exact excursion. Luckily, some friendly Aussies from our hotel were on the same day trip, so we stuck close to them. Also,luckily for us, the beach wasn’t bad eye candy.

 

Finally, we managed to get on the proper boat, the Donna Assunta chartered by I’Uomo e il Mare, and were off for Capri. The ride is quite long, but were kept occupied with coastal views of Praiano and Positano.

 

We first passed by our temporary home of Praiano, Positano’s sleepy kid brother. I’ll never get over the little white and pastel buildings dotting the cliffs.
Tip: When boarding the boat, grab your spot ASAP! Tour companies will book to full capacity, especially during summer, so you don’t want to be left without your desired seat simply because you dawdled. Sit on the uncovered bow for better photos and if you’re a sun worshiper. It gets achingly hot though in the direct sun on the sea, so sit in the covered stern if you want to forgo photos for comfort.

 

 

Next, we we made a detour to Positano to pick up a few guests staying in the town. Finally, it was on to the final destination: Capri.

 

Capri rising in the distance.

Required selfie as we approach Capri. I’ll spare you the 30 or so more I took during this excursion.

 

Once we arrived on Capri, we were informed of the day’s plan. If you wanted to stay with the group, we would first go to Anacapri for an hour or so, then on to Capri center. Then, we’d all meet back at our boat to sail around the island. Alternatively, you were free to explore the island on the own. Since we don’t speak Italian and were totally unprepared, we elected to stay with our guide, Marzia, who had a habit of starting every sentence with “Alright you guysssss” and follow her lead.  Anacapri is a fifteen minute or so bus ride away, so we loaded up and were off on our merry way.
Tip: Everything costs extra. The bus, side trips to grottoes, etc. Even though we were still on our original tour, the buses that took us all over the island were extra per each person. Luckily, we had euros on hand, but some of our tour mates weren’t as prepared. It’s a bit of a racket. 
Upon arriving in Anacapri, we ventured from the bus depot to what appeared to be the main piazza in town. After scarfing down a surprisingly good prosciutto pizza (mentioned in this post), we began to peruse the little shops, filled with souvenirs – tiles, Capri’s trademark lemon soap and other knick knacks.

 

 

 

With our time limit fast approaching, we discovered we weren’t in the main part of Anacapri at all! There were in fact many more streets to roam filled with actual shops and restaurants that were much less touristy. Unfortunately, we were only able to quickly window shop and grab some speedy photos before having to scurry back to our waiting bus.

Tip: There is more to Anacapri than the tourist square! Wander around the corner to find the real Anacapri center with shopping, restaurants, etc. We didn’t discover this whole other town until it was basically time to head back to the bus.

 

 

 

 

As life along the Amalfi Coast moves a little slower, our bus was late. Wishing we had instead spent more time in Anacapri, we were left to take in the glamorous bus depot. Finally, twenty minutes late, the bus arrived and took us winding around the island to our next stop – Capri center.
Tip: If possible, spend more time in Anacapri than Capri. It is much quieter and more quaint than the packed Capri center. On our tour, we were on strict time limits for each little town, so we didn’t have a choice. I’d love to go back one day on my own and take my time in serene Anacapri. 

 

 

Upon arriving in center you are greeted with the cutest little white and blue buildings, speckled all along the harbor. You are also greeted to throngs of tourists, wanting to snap photos of said buildings.

 

My family was tuckered, so they elected to find some respite in a snack bar, while I decided to obey my gypsy spirit and traipse about the town. Snaking my way through throngs of tour groups, I took in the Church in the main piazza, restaurants and lots and lots of designer stores.

 

 

I mean, who’s four year old doesn’t need to wear Dolce & Gabbana?
Tip: Capri center is packed and full of high end shopping. If you are not in the mood to shop at extreme ends of the spectrum: either a souvenir store or at Dolce & Gabbana, then there is not a lot for you to do in Capri center. Restaurants, yes, but it is definitely centered around catering to the jetsetting European heiress or tourist industry.
Firmly deciding that I wouldn’t be dropping thousands of dollars at Miu Miu or Prada, I decided to rejoin my family and buy something more up my alley – straciatella gelato.

 

After temporarily sating our what seemed like infinite Italian appetites, we were guided by Marzia back to the boat to spend our afternoon floating around on our aquatic tour of Capri.

 

Our first stop led us to the Pinterest-famous blue grotto. Like almost everything else on the tour, it costs extra, so we decided to skip it and instead stay in our boat to enjoy Prosecco and cakes, all while watching a highly entertaining French couple dance about the deck. Italy is so gorgeous, especially on the water, so you really can just sit back and take in the otherworldly surroundings.
Tip: Skip the blue grotto unless you are absolutely married to the idea of seeing it. The lines of boats were fairly long to get in and the sailors who commandeered the grotto boats were very aggressive. One gentleman on our tour had what seemed like a lifelong curse placed on him in Italian by an angry sailor because he didn’t tip him generously enough. There is simply so much beauty in Italy and along the Amalfi Coast. You really aren’t missing out if you don’t see this particular grotto.
My brother was not pleased with the overrated blue grotto.

 

Tourists waiting for the blue grotto – pass!

 

Departing the grotto, we took in many of the other breathtaking caves and inlets around the island. They more than made up for skipping their more notorious neighbor.

 

As daylight began to wane, it was through the Lovers’ Arches, and all of the couples on the boat kissed while I took solace in a selfie. #foreveralone
Tip: You’ll get to swim on most Capri boat trips, but it will be quick. We were given literally ten minutes to hop off the boat along a grotto. It was awesome, and I was not going to pass up my first chance to swim in the Mediterranean and cool off. If you’re looking for lots of free time to swim, however, don’t plan for it on a jampacked tour.

 

Finally, we said au revoir to my new favorite island and made a final stop back at Positano to let off our fellow sightseers. Taking in Positano at sunset is not a bad way to end the day.

 

In conclusion, the boat trip was a great way to get a crash course in Capri. We saw a lot of the highlights in little time and at a good value (about 100 euro a person). Our tour guides were very personable and special touches like cakes, Prosecco, and provided towels made the journey feel more elegant. If you’re wanting to take a leisurely tour of Capri or visit a beach club (like the famed Fontelina or il Riccio), however, this tour is not for you. You should instead take a ferry or water taxi then hire a cab when you arrive, or pay extra for a private charter to take you around the island at your own pace.
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Wordless Wednesday: Gray Malin

I am officially going to Italy next summer, so I thought I would dedicate this (nearly) Wordless Wednesday to celebrating my excitement and inspiration. Gray Malin is one of my favorite photographers and his “La Dolce Vita” series is stunning and beautifully captures the Amalfi Coast. These magnificent images will get me through the next 10 months until I’m in the motherland.

All photos via. Be sure to buy a print if you can, Gray deserves the support.