Making the list of best Italian hotels was like picking the favorite among your children. Then broadcasting it to everyone you know. There are few countries that have a greater concentration of extraordinary places to stay than Italy. We can seriously count those countries on one hand. Here are seven of the best places to put on your list for right now, or for the fall. After all, Italy is always a good idea.
Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli
Location: Lake Garda
Why we like it: We love taking recommendations from Swiss billionaires we sit next to at a wedding in St. Moritz. The best hotels are the ones like this that all the most aristocratic of society seem to love. And as one of the most romantic hotels in the world, this is one to save for that very special significant other. If someone blindfolded you and brought you to Villa Feltrinelli, there would be no doubt whatsoever that you are in one of the best hotels in Italy.
The hotel is unabashedly traditional, with exquisite antiques and opulent frescoed ceilings throughout. Marble stairs lead to sitting rooms, drawing rooms, bars and libraries that await quiet exploration. Meanwhile, attentive service yields your every need without even having to ask. The hotel is perfect as is. And has been this way since the 1800s. No branding or logos, no flashy gimmicks. Just the peachy palazzo where Winston Churchill once escaped to paint with his watercolors.
The two Michelin-starred restaurants — one in the hotel and one in town — are added bonuses that cannot be missed. The lakeside pizzerias in town are perfect for lazy afternoon lunches when the big activity of the day is a leisurely stroll to get there. Billionaires rarely get peace and quiet, but when they need some, this is where they come.
Grand Hotel Timeo
Why we like it: There are few places you can sit on your balcony and see Mount Etna, a Roman amphitheater and a lifetime sunset, all at once. Scratch that. There’s probably only one place. And we’ll add in Michelin-starred bites and a precious book from its world famous historical library to the mix.
Grand Hotel Timeo is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of destination. Everyone has to come once to experience the wealth of history and the culinary delight that exist only in this corner of the world. Sicily is still off the beaten path when it comes to Italian getaways, but here you can trek Mount Etna, taste volcanic wines, learn to cook like a local and explore the countryside for yourself. The hotel is one oldest around and has seen the likes of Greta Garbo, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Audrey Hepburn, Jackie Kennedy, Salvador Dalí and Tennessee Williams, some of whom stayed for months at a time. After all, why leave when you’re in one of the best hotels in Italy?
Rooms are the definition of exquisite, and the service is as flawless as it comes. We especially love the giant pool encircled by a lush garden and built above the incredible mountain views. Luxury comes at a price, but every room at the hotel exudes glamour with baroque details and decor collected over the years. When you have good food, good service and the best views, what can go wrong?
Four Seasons Florence
Why we like it: Of the 100+ Four Seasons in the world, this is in the top two of the portfolio. Check out our article on the best of the Four Seasons, in case you’re curious who else makes the list. The Four Seasons Florence is indisputably one of the best hotels in Italy.
If you weren’t born into a noble family with a massive villa and the largest private park in all of Florence, then consider yourself adopted by the Four Seasons. This property seamlessly manages the highest level of service while making everyone feel like family. The Royal Suite in the hotel is one of the top places to stay in the world. With restored original frescoed ceilings and a hallway that is bigger than the average American home, you’ve done something right in life if you’re staying here. It’s called a hotel, but really, it’s akin to a museum, villa and royal residence that brings you closer to the cultural heart of Florence than almost anywhere else in the city. Famous feats of engineering like the Duomo are just minutes away, and the hotel grounds feature 500-year-old artwork and one of the largest parks in the area.
Chef Vito Mollica helms the kitchen, and everything from breakfast to pizza to the degustation meals in the formal restaurant are some of the most impressive, even among other Michelin-rated restaurants in the world. The cacio e pepe won the award for the Dish of the Year, but even without the fancy accolades, these meals would be something you could die for.
Castiglion del Bosco
Why we like it: This place offers the trifecta: a gorgeous setting among the Tuscan hills for as far as the eye can see, a compound of villas and rooms that are perfect as is, and so much to do you don’t need to leave. This hotel should be on the list of everyone who wants to visit Italy. Owned by the Ferragamo family and part of the Rosewood portfolio of hotels, it’s a place where you feel immediately at home. You step on the property and are immersed into the gorgeous countryside with its rolling hills and organic gardens. WiFi is everywhere, and there’s a boutique, a gym and a spa. And because you’re going from an astrology class to watercolor session to a mountain biking trip, you never have to take off your easy, breezy clothes.
There’s no formality, yet the service is impeccable. This perfect balance is part of the reason, the Castiglion del Bosco is one of the best hotels in Italy. If you’re ever planning a wedding, vow renewal or special occasion, this would be a spot to bring the entourage to. With 5,000 acres, everyone can spread out and stay wherever they want, and the private villas with their own heated pools are perfect retreats for newlyweds.
For wine snobs, the sprawling vineyards provide ample experiences for tasting, making and purchasing the region’s famous Brunello wines. Unlike others on the list, Castiglion del Bosco is surprisingly family friendly. Kids will never get bored and are just as likely to fall in love with the countryside as you are.
Why we like it: Since George and Amal could have married anywhere in the world and yet chose to get hitched here, you know it’s something special. This is a unique property, even for Aman; within the traditional building, the hotel has achieved the perfect balance of historical architecture and modern Aman aesthetic.
When you walk in, you’ll be greeted by one of the most magnificent lamps you’ve ever seen. It was rescued from a 16th-century ship. Similarly, because you’re in Venice, you will arrive via gondola to either the main, or the secret, entrance. There are a few luxury boutique hotels in the city, but none with a water-facing courtyard like Aman’s where you can dine while watching the canal-traveling passersby.
Keeping true to its portfolio, the hotel only has 24 rooms, all of which are bespoke and heavenly. Carved frescoed ceilings, fireplaces and authentic chandeliers adorn the uniquely planned out rooms and en suites. Aman is always good, but when you’re looking for an experience that is truly unlike any other, Aman Venice is the place to go.
Belmond Hotel Caruso
Why we like it: Two words: infinity pool. Then, those stunning views. This is one of the few proper real luxury hotels on the Amalfi Coast. It’s not only the best in the Amalfi, it’s one of the best hotels in Italy. Even if it wasn’t in one of the most beautiful villages in one of the most beautiful places in the world, the hotel would still be worthy as a stand-alone reason to stay. Luckily it is located where it is. When you walk into the Caruso, you know you’re on vacation.
Everyone knows to go to the Amalfi Coast, but Hotel Caruso takes it to the next level. The famous building has attracted celebrities like Jackie Kennedy and Greta Garbo and features grand style interiors. Mosaic floors and ceiling frescos in every room and magnificent four-poster beds make guests feel like royalty. The glory of the Renaissance is recaptured in every accent, from the flowers, cornucopias and goddesses to the Mediterranean-style gardens. And best of all, rooms have private gardens that look out onto the gorgeous Amalfi Coast.
The restaurant, the Belvedere, is excellent. The hotel is arguably the best in Amalfi, and the food matches the superlative hotel experience. The head chef, Mimmo di Raffaele takes farm-fresh Mediterranean to new heights: literally, as the restaurant is perched atop a mountain looking out onto the coast, and figuratively with his innovative twists on the Italian favorites. For a feast and bed fit for a king, Caruso is the best choice.
Belmond Hotel Splendido
Why we like it: Liz Taylor wouldn’t honeymoon with four different husbands in just any hotel. That alone makes this hotel one of the best hotels in Italy. Hotel Splendido is special. Magical, rather. If you didn’t already know from our other features, it is quite possibly one of our favorite hotels. Not just because of the exclusive legacy of high-brow clientele, but because Splendido isn’t pompous. It’s exclusive. There’s a difference. The rooms speak for themselves with classic decoration that has stood the test of time. The heavenly sea views draw a recurring crowd. The kind that own yachts and will invite you onboard if you’re lucky.
The service is another one of the reasons why we can’t get enough of this place. It’s no secret Madonna frequents the hotel on her way back from Lisbon, but the staff doesn’t reserve the special treatment solely for her. Attentive, impeccably dressed men guide you to your room and remember you when you return.
Oh, and the food. Unreal. La Terrazza serves truffle tagliarini with crunchy king prawn and Elizabeth Taylor’s favorite spaghetti made with three different types of tomatoes. The restaurant is a romantic favorite not just for hotel guests but for everyone in Portofino who dream of the pesto and the pasta and the views of the sun setting behind the sea. If there’s one place on this list to save your whole life for, this is it.