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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest August 2017 Reviews

Belmond Hotel Caruso, Ravello, Italy | Bown's Best


The Amalfi Coast is one of the prettiest parts of Italy. Even if you have never been there, you are likely to have seen some of its wonders, for the makers of films and the advertisers of motor cars have long used its winding roads and impressive cliffs to add glamour and romance to their productions. 1,200 feet above this stretch of sea perches the exquisite confection of ancient churches and palaces which is Ravello. A thousand years ago one of those palaces was built by the D’Afflitto family. Much altered over the centuries, the building was opened as an hotel in 1893 by a gentleman called Pantaleone Caruso. Soon it was attracting guests of the very grandest sort. Eventually, they would include Greta Garbo, Humphrey Bogart, Jackie Kennedy... and me.

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Grand Hotel La Favorita, Sorrento, Italy | Bown's Best


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.

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Restaurant at Hotel La Solara, Sorrento, Italy | Bown's Best


If you are staying in the middle of the beautiful city of Sorrento, I have a good idea for an evening out. Go to the via degli Aranci, catch the free shuttle ‘bus of the Hotel La Solara, look out at the lovely views of the sea and the coast on the short ride up to the heights, and then enjoy a jolly good dinner in the hotel restaurant – before catching the same charabanc back into town. It will not cost you a fortune, but it will bring you much pleasure.

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Francis Bown 2003
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