Imperial Hotel Tramontano

Sorrento, Italy

Perched on the craggy cliffs of Sorrento and overlooking the beautiful Bay of Naples, the Imperial Hotel Tramontano conveys a delightful old-world elegance. Originally a private residence (the oldest wing dates back to the 16th century), it was renovated as a hotel in the early 19th century. Long favored by British travelers, including poets of the Romantic period such as Byron and Keats, the hotel has also entertained such literary personages as Milton and Goethe. The guest rooms vary in size, but all are comfortable. The grounds include an outdoor swimming pool and bar, a traditional English landscaped garden with centuries-old Mediterranean and subtropical plants, and a small 16th century chapel with frescoed interiors. An elevator whisks you down to the beach, or you can take a footpath carved out of the cliff face. The hotel puts on a terrific breakfast buffet, served in a dining room with incredible views of the bay and Mt. Vesuvius in the distance. An interesting detail: the world-famous song “Return to Sorrento” was composed on the hotel’s sunny terrace (one look and you’ll understand the inspiration).