I stumbled across the details for this place while looking at places further south and north and am so happy we changed our plans to come here. I've previously visited the Amalfi Coast but never ventured further south but I'm so pleased we made the decision to visit Castellabate instead and avoid the crowds and nightmare roads around Positano and Sorrento. With only 6 rooms the hotel is small but perfectly sited, right on the seafront in a quiet part of the old town. All the rooms look out to the sea and because of traffic restrictions there are no vehicles allowed to park outside on the promenade, which makes for a fantastic car-free setting.
If you do come by car and have heavy luggage, you can at least arrange with the hotel to drop of your luggage outside and then park you car back towards the main square. We had a bit of a nightmare trying to find the hotel when we first drove in to town, assuming from the slightly vague driving directions on the website, that Santa Maria would be small enough for us to find the hotel without problem. This is not the case and as the location of the hotel is not normally accessible by car, I strongly advise getting better driving directions from the hotel staff before you set off. The one way system is challenging to the uninitiated - more information on how to drop off your bags and parking details on the website would also be really useful.
Aside from this one small hitch our stay was fantastic - the room was spacious, light and airy with a very comfortable bed and big sofa, plenty of storage and a great balcony facing west towards the setting sun with uniterrupted sea views. The weather in mid-September was beautiful, so we had breakfast sitting outside each morning and watched a steady procession of locals and tourists passing by as they made their way towards the beach at the end of the promenade. We could also watch them return in the evening as we sat out drinking our aperitivo...
Most of the other guests seemed to be return visitors, hooked by the friendly and laidback atmosphere of the hotel, the town and the Blue Flag Beaches. Talking to the hotel staff, it seems many people come back year after year. I can see the appeal and would be more than happy to return too if it weren't so far from home. I guess in the high season it's a very different place - buzzing with Italian holidaymakers, but in September it seems to be mainly foreign tourist. Santa Maria is a lovely place to walk around day or night and the walk along the beach to nearby San Marco is also worthwhile. We didn't have enough time to head inland but we did stop at Paestum on our drive down and this is fantastic.
The 'Mad' Bar that has opened up nextdoor and mentioned in several other reviews wasn't open when we first arrived on Thursday night but it did open up on Friday night. The noise from the bar wasn't too bad, but the number of people hanging around outside until the wee small hours was not great. I'm not sure how relations work are between the two establishments but I hope they can sort something out. We had our windows shut as it wasn't too hot and the noise levels weren't bad, but we were also in the room furthest from the bar and I imagine it could be quite annoying on warmer nights.
Altogether this was a fantastic find - both the hotel and the town and I hope we can go back one day for a longer stay.
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- Also Known As:
- 1861 Residenza d Epoca
- Residenza D'Epoca 1861 Italy/Santa Maria Di Castellabate