Having read the reviews on Tripadvisor, we set out for this hotel full of hope. If you don't want to read any more, then here's a potted version: you'll love this hotel if you're hard of hearing, you enjoy walking up and down hills and you're rich.
We are a couple in our 40s, and we wanted to go to the Italian Riviera for just a few nights for a break once the kids had gone back to school. We got an early morning flight to Naples on a Sunday in September. To get to the hotel we had to take a bus, a train, a two-and-a-half hour coach ride on bendy, narrow mountain roads and a taxi. I still don't know if this was the most direct route; I had emailed the hotel twice to ask in advance and didn't receive a reply. (And there's very little timetable information available on the internet.)
Our room was nice, but despite paying for a deluxe one, I suspect it wasn't. I think those are on the first and second floors. Ours was on the third floor and very clean but a bit dingy. The verandah area on the roof was a bit unkempt but pleasant enough, and we enjoyed climbing up to the top of the lemon terraces.
The first night was very hot, and air conditioning seems to affect my throat badly, so we slept with the windows open and the louvred shutters closed. Mistake! The hotel is on a busy mountain road, and every time a bus goes round a corner it sounds its klaxon to warn other drivers coming the other way. And the scooters buzz all through the night, stepping up in the morning. And there was a dog howling all night, which set off the other dogs on the hillside. And a cockerel. And - the last straw - a car with a megaphone driving to and fro, advertising something in excitable Italian. Closing the windows helped diminish the noise so we slept with the aircon on from then on; a sore throat is better than no sleep. But it was impossible to get the temperature just right...
The staff seemed very nice. It's a family-run hotel; the mama cooks the supper, but you have to let them know first thing in the morning if you want dinner that night, which involves making a decision you might later want to change but can't. The breakfast was the same boring thing again and again and again, nothing was cooked, no eggs or anything.
We didn't hire a car as we weren't there long enough (4 nights) to justify the expense, so we were dependent on public transport. What a mistake. They reckoned the tourist season was over (it most definitely wasn't) and so there were only a few buses, which used to sail past as they were full. The last bus from Amalfi up to the hotel was at 9pm, far too early, so we had to walk the 2 miles or so in pitch black with no pavements for protection from the oncoming traffic most of the time. And the buses going down the hill earlier in the evening were extremely unreliable, didn't run to the timetable, and we were in a permanent state of not knowing whether we'd just missed one or were going to have to wait an hour for one to turn up.
One thing I can recommend: one day we decided to go to the beach. After much questioning of the staff, and several false starts in the opposite direction, we discovered that if you went to the nearest beach - which involved going down about 400 very VERY steep steps, my legs were shaking by the end and my boyfriend couldn't hardly walk the next day - then a chap called Antonio would come in his boat to pick you up and take you to a smaller beach round the corner. If the hotel asked him, that is, and this service was free. Apparently the smaller beach is nicer and cheaper, we didn't find this to be the case as the sun loungers were the same price (E15) on both. And the bigger one looked better for swimming. There's no sand, just rocks and stones. It was a nice day, however. We couldn't face climbing back up those steps though, and so Antonio took us to Amalfi and we got the bus back.
If I were forced to stay here again (!), I would definitely hire a car and go exploring. Amalfi itself is very touristy and very expensive - dinner for two (starters, meat main and pasta main, half carafe of wine and no dessert or coffee) came to E70, which we thought was very pricey for average food. We were going to visit Capri but the ferry was too expensive, and we couldn't face the bus difficulties of trying to go anywhere else. We did do the open top bus to Maiori and Minori, which was nice. (Next time we'd stay somewhere in Maiori, which was much closer to our idea of the Italian Riviera.)
But I wouldn't stay at this hotel again. We found it expensive for what it was, noisier than the reviews on here had given us to believe, and very difficult to get to and from. Dinner was good, and it was clean, and the staff were OK, but I wouldn't go back.
PS There is no wi-fi in the bedrooms, just a very ancient laptop (which you couldn't sell on eBay) for guest use of 15 mins per day only. One day we came down to notice that they were handing out the wi-fi password, inexplicably. Not good for those who like/have to stay in touch.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel La Pergola
- La Pergola Amalfi