Spotless and efficient, the Grand Hotel Ambasciatori is an impressive four-star hotel which commands delightful sea views from a cliff-top position away from the centre of Sorrento. Both its bedrooms and its extensive public areas – the latter full of glistening marble, sparkling crystal and, sadly, canned ‘pop’ music – are immaculately maintained, and its gardens are enchanting. It was opened in the 1950s, but the atmosphere is pleasantly traditional, thanks to the pieces of good antique furniture which adorn its sitting rooms. This seems to suit the sun-seeking guests, who come to the Ambasciatori from all over Europe and many of whom take advantage of the lift which goes down to the hotel’s private beach by the sea.
I took the greatest delight in finding a quiet spot in the garden after lunch and gazing over the waters to the distant island of Ischia. Such afternoons were the highlight of my stay at the Ambasciatori. My room, number 616 on the second floor (a ‘Superior’ and therefore 480€-520€ a night for two, but you should check the hotel website for special offers) was red and white and modest in its dimensions. I would strongly advise readers of Bown’s Best to secure one of the larger rooms with an uninterrupted sea view – or, even better, a suite with an outside terrace (900€-1,300€ a night). As you can see from the picture, these larger apartments provide stylish and comfortable accommodation.
The hotel dining room – the Restaurant Le Muse and its Vesuvio Terrace – has an arrangement new to me, whereby those guests on half-board (such as I was myself) are physically separated from those who are dining à la carte, the latter having those tables with the better views. The marble floor, the crystal chandeliers, the cream napery, the silver domes and the good Schott glassware create a stylish atmosphere in which to eat the food of Chef Franco Venanzio. (A three course meal is offered at 38€.)
We are not here in the land of the Michelin stars, but from my meals I can certainly recommend the decent tagliatelle with pesto, the splendid lamb chops with herbs, the luscious lemoncello baba and the well-executed warm chocolate cake with orange fondant. The wine list has 232 offerings, all of which are Italian except the champagnes. Alcohol levels are given, but vintages are supplied only for the red wines. Prices run from 15∙5€ for a rosé by Ruffino to 570€ for the 2001 vintage of Mr Gaja’s nebbiolo Sorì Tildin. Other bottles to catch my eye were: Planeta chardonnay (36€), 2009 Ornelliaia (190€), 2001 Gaja barbaresco (290€), 2010 Sassicaia (210€) and 2010 Solaia (260€).
I returned to the restaurant each morning for breakfast, and noted with approval the hard-working and courteous waiters in their short white jackets. I did not care so much for the paper napkins, but the wonderful marmalade and the lovely crusty bread distracted my attention from that little irritation. The freshly prepared onion omelettes I secured from the omelette station were good, too. I also liked the items I took to my table from the buffet: dishes of strawberries and pineapple, plates of bacon, tomatoes and pickled vegetables and baskets of very good croissants.
The Grand Hotel Ambasciatori is an appealing place to lodge in beautiful Sorrento. If its management would kill off the ‘music’ in its public areas and put out proper linen napkins for breakfast, it would be even better. I do like to offer helpful suggestions, you know.
Via Califano 18, 80067 Sorrento, Italy.
Telephone +39 081 878 2025
Fax +39 081 807 1021
For room rates, special offers etc. see the hotel website