Pre-baby, one of my main motivations in life was travel. Mr Sunshine and I regularly spent our weekends and evenings plotting our next escape to foreign lands. In brief periods of downtime from my desk at work I would dream of far-flung locations, dramatic coastlines, exciting cultures and exotic food in a place where the sun always shines. And at the centre of these daydreams was always a picture-perfect hotel.
Monastero Santa Rosa Hotel and Spa, a 17th Century Monastery perched precariously high on the cliffs above the little fishing village of Conca dei Marini is one of those hotels that dreams are made of. With just 20 rooms and suites available, we were so lucky to secure a room here slap bang in the middle of our tour along the Amalfi Coast, and spending just one night in this historic building placed a big tick against one of my must-do ‘once in a lifetime’ experiences.
From the moment we arrived, the service was impeccable. Drinks were poured on a little balcony overlooking the most breathtaking of views over the hotel’s extensive grounds, the cliffs and the sea below, while we ‘checked in’ (ie. someone whisked Mr Sunshine’s credit card and our passports away for a moment and took our bags to our room while we enjoyed basking in the sun).
We were then taken along a long, cool passageway adorned with lavish Italian antiques to our room – a compact apartment which still bears exactly the same dimensions as when it was inhabited by nuns all of those centuries ago. We admired the sympathetic conversion, with luxurious touches such as the deep marble baths and huge, thick wooden window shutters. I also loved the fact that each room was named after a herb that was once grown by the nuns to make medicines in the Monastery’s gardens.
We took the Prosecco that was awaiting us out onto the beautiful sunset terrace which was just outside our room, and breathed in the sight of the miniature houses dotting the coastline before us; marvelled at the way the azure skies seemed to melt into the sea; and admired the hotel’s famous terraced grounds and infinity pool from above. I was itching for a swim.
Having polished off the bottle with record-breaking speed, we headed downstairs, and strolled down through the stunning landscaped terraced gardens to the water’s edge.
The Monastero Santa Rosa pool features in many a top 10 list of the world’s best infinity pools, and up close I could see why. Scalloped into the cliff, the pool is made from natural materials, and feels more like a naturally-occuring plunge pool than a manmade structure. Continuing as we had started, we wasted no time in perusing the extensive poolside menu, ordering a couple of our favourite cocktails and a bite to eat, and plunging right in.
Even this discerning seagull had decided that this was a pretty good place for him to spend the day.
There I sat (in the spot which I was now convinced was my favourite place in the whole world) for hours. Nothing could tear me away.
Nothing that is, apart from the lure of the hotel’s spa.
Much like the main building of the hotel, the spa retains all of the original features of the monastery. We were lucky enough to receive our couple’s massage in the entirely unique Spa Suite: an 80m vaulted space complete with private dressing room and treatment areas. Being pampered in a space steeped in history, with a monastic and highly religious heritage was an experience that I will never forget.
Not for the first time that day, as we emerged once more into the bright sunshine of the gardens feeling light as a feather, I had to pinch myself to make sure that this wasn’t a dream.
We were staying in such a beautiful building, full of cultural artifacts, shrouded in the mysteries of its past, and located in the most jaw-dropping of locations, but by this point I was quite convinced that what makes this hotel really stand out amongst its competitors on the Amalfi Coast, and indeed the rest of the world is the service afforded to visitors by the wonderful staff.
After our massage, the General Manager, Flavio took it upon himself to personally welcome us to the hotel by taking us on a guided tour, which culminated in a visit to the hotel’s roof just as the sun was beginning to set.
If there is one moment from our entire honeymoon that I will remember forever, it was this. There was a soft evening breeze lilting over the monastery as we looked over the pink-tinged view, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything so magical.
We had been so spoiled that by the time that dinner rolled around, I think I would have been quite content with a bacon sarnie and a nightcap, but of course that wasn’t to be.
Much like the rest of the hotel, Ristorante Il Refettorio prides itself on attention to detail, luxury and quality of service, and we were completely blown away.
We met the charismatic Executive Chef, Christoph Bob and his team, all of whom exuded a passion for locally-sourced, good quality ingredients and wholesome food. Feeling relaxed after our day in the sun and spa, we allowed them to pick out our menu for us, and we weren’t disappointed.
Stand-outs included the shrimp with creamed eggplant and crispy black rice, the Tortello del ‘Maccaronaio’ (seabass and cherry tomato tortello) and the seared grouper.
All of which was beautifully complemented by the local olive oil and a Costa D’Amalfi red hand-selected by our waiter from the hotel’s extensive wine cellar.
However, it was breakfast which was the really memorable meal of our stay. Several different types of eggs, fruit, juices and pastries were brought out to us on the pergola-shaded dining terrace on silver trays, until our table was almost heaving under the weight of all the food!
Breakfasts like this are only complete with the addition of a glass of Prosecco.
And a traditional Sfogliatelle: shell-shaped filled pastries that were baked by the original sisters of the monastery which have become famous throughout Italy, and synonymous with the luxury of the Amalfi Coast.
With only a few hours left to kill before check-out, we took ourselves back down to the gardens and pool to soak up a few more rays and to try to imprint that view on our memories.
Before we left, we took some time to fill in our confession before heading off to our next destination along the coast.
Staying at Monastero Santa Rosa was a dream come true which managed to exceed even my high expectations, as I hope this short video testifies.
Pin for later:
Please visit the hotel’s website for details of room rates and bookings.
We were not guests of Monastero Santa Rosa, but certain parts of our stay were given to us for free. As always, my views are all my own.