GRAND HOTEL LA FAVORITA
Why do I like the Grand Hotel La Favorita so much? Well, here is a clue: it is spacious, immaculately maintained and wonderfully practical. Notice my use of the word ‘practical’. Practicality is a characteristic too many hotels neglect nowadays, and the result of such neglect is a plague of hostelries which look wonderful in glossy magazines but are hard put to offer their guests a comfortable chair or a useable bath tub. There is none of this nonsense at La Favorita – thank goodness. But do not think it lacks aesthetic appeal, for within this palace of sparkling white, located in the historical heart of beautiful Sorrento, you will find an abundance of pretty things.
Although it is clearly modern (having re-opened in 2010 after a major refurbishment), the building is discreet in its modernity. Moreover, its extensive ground floor public spaces are packed with so many antiques – statuary, porcelain and furniture – that they provide a most charming and civilised welcome to its guests. These pieces, many of them from the 18th Century, have been collected by the hotel’s owner, Mr Enzo Manniello, who clearly likes the good things of life – a proper characteristic for one concerned with the offering of hospitality.
There are 85 bedrooms, and the overall decorative style suggests the neo-Classical. The service throughout the hotel I found properly diligent and courteous – a tribute to the leadership of the excellent General Manager, the genial Mr Mario Damiano, pictured with your correspondent.
You will need to check on the hotel website for the rates for specific dates, but my judgement is that the establishment offers very good value for a five-star hotel. The price of my ‘Superior’ double room varied from 219€ to 459€ a night, bed and breakfast for two, according to season. Here was that practicality I have mentioned: the air conditioning was both quiet and effective; the bed had been made deliciously soft for me; the bath tub was large, and easy of ingress and egress; the hot water was always abundant and the window blind glided up and down at the touch of a button.
Room 324 on the third floor was attractive accommodation, too. I liked particularly the superb local ceramic tiles, which provided colour and sparkle to the walls of the bathroom and to the floors throughout. In the entrance hall were fitted wardrobes, within which was a safe. On the ceiling of the bedroom, painted birds swooped in a blue sky, and on the white walls an oil painting combined Surrealism and Fauvism in its colourful strangeness. A sliding door of plate glass opened onto my private terrace, which offered me a table and chairs, a sun shade and a pair of day beds. This was a quiet and sunny spot for my afternoon siesta, for it looked onto a little-used side street.
Dining at La Favorita is done either at the mezzanine level, in the Tiffany Restaurant, or – when the weather is fine – on the top floor terrace, in the Restaurant Bellavista. The former has its own small terrace, overlooking the gardens. It was at the Tiffany Restaurant I enjoyed breakfast each morning – inside, for it is an elegant chamber, and I needed one of its larger tables to cope with all the comestibles I obtained from the buffet. The delights of the omelette station – I liked the mushroom version most particularly – ensured that my days began well. I also tucked in with relish to superb strawberry jam, dishes of pineapple, strawberries and melon, bowls of Allbran and slices of lovely apple tart. All this food was of high quality, eaten off Schönwald cockery of white and pale blue, and washed down with pots of coffee (cooled by my customary ice cubes) and my concluding cappuccini. I must mention, too, the waiters at breakfast, who were both efficient and friendly to a man .
In the evenings the Tiffany Restaurant – with its marble floor, crystal chandeliers, white napery and Schott glassware – takes on the character of a grand hotel dining room, with traditional service. That service included not only the serving of the evening’s soup from a large silver tureen, but also all the usual ceremonies next to the table involved in les crêpes Suzette. The latter – at just 10€ per person – must surely be one of the gastronomic bargains of Europe, for the Maitre d’ – the splendid Luigi – is The King of the Crêpes Suzette. He will, if requested, use the traditional Grand Marnier from France, but he prefers to use an orange liqueur from Italy, Aurum, in which the orange flavour is slightly softer. Other highlights of the menu at La Favorita are the chateaubriand (60€ for two), grilled lamb chops (20€) and beef fillet Rossini (28€).
The wine list has 194 offerings, most of them Italian but with a sprinkling of French, including champagnes. Prices are attractive, and run from 22€ for a local white falanghina to 700€ for the 2001 vintage of Chateau Lafite. Those two reliable Italian whites, the Planeta chardonnay and Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala, struck me as particularly good value at 30€ and 80€ respectively. Other bottles to catch my eye were: 2000 Luce (90€), 2003 Ornellaia (220€), 2000 Gaja barbaresco (300€) and Krug Grande Cuvée (250€).
I hope that you can now be in no doubt as to why I am so enthusiastic about the Grand Hotel La Favorita. It offers an attractive combination of comfort, good food, excellent service and practicality in a position which is only a few steps from all those things the visitor wants to do in Sorrento. I shall call it ‘Highly Recommended’.
GRAND HOTEL LA FAVORITA
Double rooms with breakfast from 199€-359€, according to season
Check the hotel website for special offers and the rates for specific dates