One of my favourite panoramic views in the world is one overlooking Mount Vesuvius and the Bay of Naples from Sorrento. In the foreground is a wonderful looking pastel red coloured hotel. You can just about make out the cracked lettering to see the name of this old hotel – “Albergo Lorelei et Londres”. This hotel helps make a magnificent view even better.
To me the view and this particular hotel represent the essence of Sorrento. To find it you need to go to the eastern side of town a short walk from the main Tasso Square. It is located on Via Aniello Califano and set at the top of a shear cliff face, high above the main port, Marina Piccola.
I must admit, when I first saw this building it was love at first sight. Its vivid red colour contrasting perfectly against the blue Mediterranean sky. Nevertheless, I have never actually experienced the hotel itself. On the two occasions I was in Sorrento it was closed up and falling into disrepair.
I googled it when I returned home and it seems that it closed in 2007 (1). A Trip Advisor forum speculated about what had happened to it (2). An article at Rebecca-East.com implies that it was particularly popular with budget travelers and that the roadside rooms were noisy (3). Reidsitaly.com refers to it as ‘one of the Secret Hotels of the Amalfi Coast, a tattered olde worlde budget gem’ (4). It made The Telegraph travel guide in July 2004 which said it had 50 rooms, 30 of which had a sea view and it refers to a price tag of £65 (5).
You would probably enjoy bread and water with the breath-taking views on offer, but it also seems to have had a reputation for good eating and drinking back in the day. It was mentioned in an article by Travelvivi.com under the title ‘The Best Restaurants With the Best Views’ (6), Thedailygreen.com had it as one of ’12 Restaurants with the Best Views in the World’ (7), and an article published in May 2011 at Everything-Beautiful.com rated it as one of the ‘top rooftop bars in Europe’ (8). Some other reviews can be found HERE and HERE.
You also get the impression that it would be the sort of hotel that people would have stayed at while undertaking ‘The Grand Tour’. Edwardian elegance at the hotel pictured HERE and HERE present an insight into the lifestyle of that period.
The hotel itself may, in fact, have had its ultimate origins in the world of Ancient Rome, the Rome into which those Grand Tourists wanted to immerse themselves at Pompeii and Herculanium. An article at Famedisud.it entitled ‘Albergo Lorelei et Londres: un antico rifugio di pittori e letterati a Sorrento’, if I have interpreted the google translated version correctly, suggests that it could have been built on Roman foundations, probably the villas of the elite of that time – Senators, Generals, senior imperial officials, from where they could enjoy their leisure time, their wealth, and their privileged status in ancient Surrentum (9).
Above: View of Albergo Lorelei et Londres from on of the lidos at Marina San Francesco at the bottom of the cliffs.
Above: A closer shot of the hotel, with the remains of the old restaurant are in the foreground. The square structure is the lift that goes to the beach area at the foot of the cliff.
I found photos of what the hotel looked like when it was operation and provide links to these below:
Outdoor restaurant on the terrace overlooking the bay: HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, HERE, and with Vespas parked outside HERE. In the days of what would assume to be times when people were stilll taking the the Grand Tour HERE (looking from the sea at the bottom of the cliff), inside what looks like the dining room HERE, and another indoor room HERE. Another great pic HERE.