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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest September 2017 Reviews

The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria, Sorrento, Italy | Bown's Best


Lucius Cary, the second Viscount Falkland, was a wise man. He it was who, in 1641, uttered to the English Parliament some of the wisest words ever spoken in our language. “Where it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change.” In my judgement, this should be the motto of every hotelier in the world. Glorious buildings, magnificent interiors, traditions of elaborate service – these need to be cherished and preserved, not tossed aside at the whim of the latest fashionable ‘designer’. Let us therefore sing a mighty Te Deum for The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento, one of Italy’s most famous hotels and one of its most glorious bastions of tradition. I love it.

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Don Alfonso 1890, Sant ĎAgata Sui Due Golfi, Sorrento, Italy| Bown's Best


There is only one thing better than having dinner at Don Alfonso 1890 – and that is having dinner and then retiring to one of its charming bedrooms for the night. For the same care and attention which has gone into creating perhaps the most famous restaurant in Italy has also gone into creating a ‘boutique’ hotel for its discerning and sophisticated guests. I have just been among their number, and can report – if I might be permitted to change a little the famous saying of Julian of Norwich – “all was well, and all manner of things were well”. This should not surprise anyone, for Don Alfonso 1890 is one of the most influential establishments in Italy. Many chefs of the better sort have learnt in its kitchens, and any chef who has done so will be versed in those disciplines of hard work and absolute dedication which are so evident at this gastronomic shrine (with two Michelin stars) in the heart of the Sorrento peninsular.

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Grand Hotel Aminta, Sorrento, Italy | Bown's Best


The Grand Hotel Aminta is a well-run, comfortable, four-star hotel which enjoys an enviable panoramic view over Sorrento, Mount Vesuvius, Naples and the island of Ischia. As such, it is understandably popular both with British visitors and with those who wish to celebrate their nuptials in this delightful part of bella Italia. From its kitchen went the food to feed Pope John Paul II, when the pontiff was visiting Pompeii, along the coast. ‘Aminta’ is the name of the eponymous hero of a 16th Century work by Sorrento’s most famous poet, Torquato Tasso. The General Manager of the hotel is also its owner, Gianfranco Acampora, and he is much in evidence, ensuring that everything at his property is as it should be.

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