“We went to the Sirenuse, an old family house converted into a first class hotel, spotless and cool, with grape arbors over its outside dining rooms. Every room has its little balcony and looks out over the blue sea to the islands of the sirens from which those ladies sang so sweetly.”
This was how John Steinbeck described Le Sirenuse in 1953.
It is still run by the same family, and it is spectacular.
In 1951, the Sersale family turned their summer house into a glorious hotel overlooking the bay of Positano. It still feels very much like a grand private home, but with all the luxuries of a well-appointed hotel.
On glossy tiled floors, under graceful plaster arches covered with vines, groups of blue and yellow armchairs sit amongst family antiques.
Antiques and art make the hotel feel like a home. They add that touch of character that is so often missing in contemporary hotels.
The outside is brought inside with greenery…vines hanging from ceilings, lemon trees around the pool, towering palms in hallways…and a majestic thirty year old fern.
My decorating color palette is usually limited to shades of neutral, with little or no patterns…but the colors and designs of these tiles were so exquisite, I was bewitched.
There is no better way to start a day than eating breakfast on the veranda of Le Sirenuse, overlooking the sea, the Sirens, and Positano,
Almost as impressive as the setting was the abundant spread of fruit, breads, salads, and pastries.
Some days lunch was eaten…why not?…on that same veranda, with the same awe-inspiring view in front, and the serene pool behind.
If I could eat only one meal for the rest of my life, it would be this insalata caprese.
The logo for the hotel is embossed on the menus…a pair of mermaids that recall Homer’s Sirens on the islands in the distance.
When I first arrived at the hotel, the day of the week was woven into the jute rug in the elevator.
Hmmm, I wondered. Do they change it everyday? Nah…it looks like it’s permanently fixed. That would be too much trouble.
They do! (I know, I am probably the only guest that’s ever been excited by this.)
While we’re on the subject of things that get me fired up, let me tell you about the guest room amenities. First of all, full-sized bottles…none of those tiny bottles that are only good for two showers. (By the way, check out the sublime marble-clad bathroom.)
For an extra special bonus, there are samples of their perfume collection. They are gorgeous fragrances like Eau d’Italie (scents of blackcurrant buds, magnolia, clay, and yellow sweet clover) and Paestum Rose (notes of black and pink pepper, turkish rose, coriander grains, and papyrus.) I sported a different fragrance each day that I was there. My favorite was Magnolia Romano, with its scents of purple basil, lemon leaves, magnolia flower, and, yes it actually says this on the packaging, water notes.
The lovely guest rooms have cool tiled floors, cozy white slipcovered upholstery with embroidered pillows, and a grand coronet over the bed.
The best part is that all 59 rooms face that amazing view.
Le Sirenuse is one of those memorable hotels that has the remarkable combination of a beautifully designed environment, exemplary service, in a spectacular setting. It’s been in the top ten list of Travel + Leisure and Condé Nast Traveller magazines for years.
It will remain in my top ten list until the end of time.