‘Wow! This is aaawesome!’ bellows a tourist from under his baseball cap. We’re stepping out of the funicular train from Capri Town’s harbour, and although he’s ever so slightly shattering my image of us following in Jackie O’s footsteps to an exclusive escape, he has got a point. The view we are both admiring is of the Tyrrhenian Sea’s deep-blue stretch to the sun-gilded Sorrentine Peninsula. I gaze down Capri’s steep terraced slopes, over café-lined postcard promenade Marina Grande, and then back at the diminutive La Piazzetta, with its clocktower, miniature main square, and darling white 18th-century church. It’s hard to deny that this vista is anything but overwhelming, even if you are a seasoned traveller.
Let’s get something straight – Capri’s charms are no secret on the tourist trail. But that’s partly what makes Capri Tiberio Palace feel so special. In what seems a New York minute after reaching hilltop Piazza Umberto I, we’re flopped on our private balcony, a world away from any high-season hurly burly. I’ve cracked open a Pellegrino from our minibar and Mr Smith is sipping a chilled Peroni. From our majolica-tiled, bougainvillea-fringed perch, we look out across to lemon groves and the sparkling Gulf of Naples beyond. I swear I hear Mr Smith murmur the word ‘awesome’.
Lickety-split from London, too. We only caught a flight to Naples this morning. Next thing we were in a cab to the gritty city’s port, where, after a slice of lunchtime pizza, we hopped on a hydrofoil for the 40-minute watery whoosh over. On arrival at Capri Town our bags were magicked away by a pristinely dressed hotel meeter-and-greeter, while we rode the cable car a few minutes up the hill. An amble down a picturesque alleyway, past fabulous designer shops and authentic trattorias, we landed at our apricot-coloured hideaway for the weekend.
Gliding through the glass doors to reception, we had received the kind of warm welcome that might cause cynics to wonder whether staff had twigged we were secret site inspectors. But no; that’s just how things are here at this Capri boutique hotel. Escorted up to our roomy junior suite, we pass pockets of interior design that resemble how I envisage chic Italian private villas in the Fifties. ‘Hey, look there’s Sophia Loren!’ shouts Mr Smith, admittedly pointing to a black and white photo. Jaunty pastel-upholstered chairs, sugar-almond-shaded wallcoverings, shelves of quirky trinkets and cute curios are all part of designer Giampiero Panepinto’s pretty, witty decor. If the look and feel doesn’t ease you into holiday mood, you may need to see your doctor about some prescriptive meds.
And here we are still on our balcony as spritz o’clock strikes. Feet in the sun, aperol and prosecco in hand, we’re watching a gentle start to la passeggiata on the pathway below. A nose at the guests around the pool on the terrace just below us reveals an American couple befriending a German family, next to an English premier league footballer sneaking in some post-season P&Q with his missus.
Suppertime approaches, and choosing to dine in the hotel’s Mediterranean restaurant may seem unadventurous, but why leave our bubble of cheer? Especially as we’ve heard great things about the cocktails. There’s always tomorrow to explore. After sampling a Capri lemon drop (limoncello, lemon juice and lavender) in the loungey ground-floor Jackie Bar (strictly in the name of investigative duty), we head up to the restaurant. By the second course of perfectly cooked seafood pasta, we’ve swapped life stories with the maître d’ and we’re smitten with the local rosé.
Breakfast sees us back on that canopied terrace to devour pickings from the generous buffet. Over pastries and fresh fruit we moot a boat trip around the coast. But the sun is glowing and the cushioned loungers by the look comfy –surely that Blue Grotto sea cave will wait for us?
Fast forward to the afternoon and, yes, we’re still supine by the outdoor pool, but we’ve been for a splash, sensorial shower and steam in the Water Zone, I’ve had an incredible Sodashi facial in the wellness centre and we’ve both picked at a delicious tomato, mozzarella and basil Caprese salads. Not bad for a day’s reviewing work, right?
History buffs will know who Roman Emperor Tiberius was. And the real swots will be aware that he was so captivated by Capri he made the Mediterranean island his imperial capital. Not sure it was the most practical base, but then word is he was distracted by some rather risqué revelries, so who are we to argue? In fact, the old dog ended up spending his final years on Capri. Truth is, a whirl here has us wishing we could follow suit and live out our days on this aphrodisiacal island. So if you’re seeking a five-star stay for hidden-away holidays laced with spa treatments, cunning cocktails and Mediterranean cuisine fit for an emperor, get thee to Capri Tiberio Palace. Except the island should come with a warning: ‘Watch out, you might never want to leave’.