GRAND HOTEL LA FAVORITA
Spacious, immaculately maintained and wonderfully practical, the Grand Hotel La Favorita is a hostelry I like very much indeed. Notice my deliberate 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 both diligent and courteous – a tribute to the leadership of the genial and experienced General Manager, 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, and it was here I enjoyed breakfast each morning. The delights of the omelette station – I liked the tomato version most particularly – ensured that my days began well. I also tucked in with relish to good bread rolls, superb strawberry jam, dishes of pineapple, strawberries and melon, bowls of Allbran and good croissants. All these comestibles were of high quality, as were the pots of coffee (cooled with my customary ice cubes) and my concluding cappuccini.
In the evenings the Tiffany Restaurant – with its marble floor, crystal chandeliers, white napery, Schott glassware and Schönwald crockery – took 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 (pictured, in bow tie) – is The King of the Crêpes Suzette. His version is magnificent. I have enjoyed this dish in some of the most famous restaurants in the world, and Luigi’s version equals the best. He will, of course, 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. Having tried both from Luigi’s flaming pan, I think he is right.
The other highlight of my dinners at La Favorita was the chateaubriand (55€ for two) – again involving work for the black-tied Luigi next to my table. This was really lovely beef – pink, tender and tasty. It prompted me to write in my notes, “Just the job!” Marco, the Chef, certainly knows how to find the best meat and how to cook it.
The wine list has 188 offerings, most of them Italian but with a sprinkling of French, including champagnes. Prices are attractive, and run from 22€ for a white Orvieto to 600€ for the 2001 vintage of Chateau Margaux. Those two reliable Italian whites, the Planeta chardonnay and Antinori’s Cervaro della Sala, struck me as particularly good value at 30€ and 65€ respectively. Other bottles to catch my eye were: 2000 Luce (90€), 2003 Ornellaia (220€) and Krug Grande Cuvée (250€). Four vintages of Sassicaia are all priced at 180€ - 1999, 2001, 2003 and 2004.
I hope I have conveyed my enthusiasm for 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. And, of course, there is the Gastronomic Bargain of Europe.
GRAND HOTEL LA FAVORITA
Via Tasso angelo Piazza Vittorio Veneto, 80067 Sorrento, Italy.
Telephone +39 081 8782 031
Fax +39 081 8074 898
Double rooms with breakfast from 199€-359€, according to season
Check the hotel website for special offers and the rates for specific dates