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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest September 2016 Reviews


The best hotels have the best staff. Smart, charming, efficient, courteous, friendly – these are the epithets which should settle in the minds of guests when they encounter those who look after them in the world’s most luxurious hostelries. And these are the words which always do occur to me when I am staying in one of my favourite hotels in Italy, the Santa Caterina. Like an exquisite white lily in a verdant garden, this immaculate establishment is the focal point of the Amalfi Coast. And the people who make it such a joyful place in which to stay are its staff. I present to you a picture of four of them from the Restaurant, who together have given more than half a century of service to this famous hotel. They are, from left to right, Domenico (the Assistant Maitre d’ – 16 years), Lucca (the Sommelier – 7 years), Pino (the Maitre d’ – 26 years) and Michele (a waiter, and the relative newcomer). These splendid gentlemen and their many colleagues ensure that the hospitality at the Santa Caterina is of the highest quality. I salute them.

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Hotel Caesar Augustus, Anacapri, Capri, Italy | Bown's Best


I think I have discovered my favourite hotel accommodation on Capri. Kings often agree with me, of course, so it is no surprise that the suite in question brought solace to one of them – but more of that in a moment. Let me first commend to you some sound advice for every traveller: Never settle for less than your dreams. This vigorous injunction is the motto of the Hotel Caesar Augustus. The suggestion is that one of your dreams might be to stay at the hotel on Capri which enjoys the island’s most ravishing views. And that hotel, without doubt, is the wonderful Caesar Augustus. Certainly, many of the world’s most sophisticated travellers dream this dream, for they consistently mention the Caesar Augustus when they are asked by the travel magazines which hotels they find most pleasing. Not long ago, the readers of Condé Nast Traveller voted the Caesar Augustus the top resort hotel in Europe, and the 14th best hotel in the world. The Signorini Family, which owns the hotel, is rightly proud of these accolades. I present to you a picture of Francesco Signorini, the General Manager, and his father, Paolo, with your correspondent. I think you can see that pride radiates from them.

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Villa Marina Capri Hotel & Spa, Capri, Italy | Bown's Best


The right word for the Villa Marina on Capri is soigné. Its air of sophisticated elegance comes from its location (slightly set apart from the bustle of the sightseers), its lovely gardens, its size (not too large), its gorgeous sea views, its décor (modern, but not too modern, and luxuriously comfortable) and, of course, its staff. The last is headed by the General Manager, Mr Enrico Costa – a most charming fellow, who was born in Canada and brought up in Rome. (He can be seen on the left of the group photograph.) Mr Costa ensures that the service at the Villa Marina is delivered with efficiency and friendliness.

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Francis Bown 2003
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