Perched high on a cliff overlooking the turquoise waters of Sorrento, Italy, Parco dei Principi is more than a luxury design hotel—it’s a 1960s architectural masterpiece.
Travelling with a baby can admittedly be a bit of a nightmare. Since having Axel, Chris and I have really come to appreciate destinations with a slower pace and more laid-back atmosphere… and that’s exactly what Italy’s seaside town of Sorrento provided! This cliffside coastal town is sometimes overlooked in favor of its flashier neighbors, Positano and Capri, making it a little less crowded, yet equally as appealing. That said, its sweeping seaside views and historic architecture make it a destination worth visiting. Despite its cliffside location and secluded feel, it was also so much easier to reach than I had imagined! Located off the coast of Naples, a quick ferry had us on Sorrento’s shore in around 40 minutes.
After arriving, we quickly fell in love with Sorrento’s architecture. While its’ many antique stores and artisan shops also draw visitors, its architectural charms are undeniably the town’s highlight. With styles ranging from simplistic whitewash stucco villas to extravagantly ornate Baroque cathedrals, Sorrento really impressed us with its vast variety of style and history! Parco dei Principi, our hotel, was no exception. Designed by Gio Ponti, Italy’s most iconic 20th century architect, the resort featured luxurious rooms preserved with their original design and custom furnishings. Mounted on a cliffside over the Bay of Naples, Parco dei Principi was nothing short of stunning!
As we first pulled into Parco dei Principi I was admittedly taken aback by the thick vegetation surrounding us. Lush greenery extended as far as I could see and every walkway was lined with trees, plants and it was almost overwhelming! Later, we came to find out that the hotel is secluded between a pristine private beach and a massive three hectares of exotic greenery. The Parco dei Principi’s botanical garden is home to many wild and rare plant species, which makes the property surrounding the hotel feel tropical, exclusive, and remote.
Built in the mid 1960s, the Parco dei Principi hotel is a structure of marvel and wonder—it’s also the very first “design hotel” of its kind, which truly set the stage for many of today’s modern boutique hotels that Chris and I have come to love. Entering it felt like going back in time to the early 1960s, when clean lines, geometric shapes, balanced color palettes, and simplicity were all the rage. Interestingly, in an effort to give each room its own unique personality, Gio Ponti personally designed an astounding 96 different geometric floor tiling patterns for the building—one for each of the 96 rooms, meaning there’s a bit of unique style and personality behind every door.
The furnishings of the Parco dei Principi hotel are masterpieces themselves. Each lounge chair, vanity, and lamp are original works of Ponti himself, who meticulously designed every room to stand alone as its own cohesive piece. Although each is decorated primarily in shades of blue with an artistic regard for clean lines and geometric patterns, no two are alike!
The room itself was an absolute artwork! Its decor was clean and minimalistic, with a sea-facing window that flooded the space with natural light. Although the furnishings, walls, and draperies were all washed in shades of blue, their geometric patterns made the decor pop with depth and visual appeal. I absolutely loved how the decor’s balanced palette of blue shades played off the turquoise tones of the water it overlooked. With the door open and curtains drawn back, the room itself felt like an extension of the sea itself. Definitely 50 shades of blue.
Our room was a junior suite, which featured a floor-to-ceiling window opening out into a spacious terrace. We found ourselves spending plenty of time soaking up the sun and listening to the waves crash against the cliffside as Axel happily played—although Sorrento is lovely, I honestly could have stayed at the hotel for our entire trip!
With the sea in our backyard, three hectares of exotic gardens to explore, and plenty of delicious food nearby, there was no shortage of things for us to do in the area surrounding Parco dei Principi. Each morning, we’d start with breakfast in the hotel’s main restaurant, which overlooks the sea. The pizza at their marina restaurant, Poggio Siracusa, was also a highlight, but then again I’m a sucker for a nice bottle of rosé and wood oven fired pizza!
Although it was too cold to swim, we loved strolling through the path of tunnels in the rock leads to enjoy the hotel’s private beach area. Had it been warmer, we would have loved to take a dip in the hotel’s salt water pool. Surrounded on all sides by the botanical garden’s exotic greenery, the pool’s in-built islands and floating diving board are distinct works of Gio Ponti as well.
In the evenings after putting Axel to bed, we loved stepping out for aperitivo in the hotel’s Lounge Bar, which features intricately pebbled walls and so much more design details. Supposedly, Gio Ponti himself described the Lounge as having the “levity and gracefulness of the sky”—a description I full-heartedly agree with! I can’t imagine a better way to end an evening than watching the golden Sorrento sunset across the water with a cocktail in hand.
Although we would have been happy not to leave Parco dei Principi’s beauty for the duration of our stay, I should mention that Sorrento’s town center is conveniently located a short 15-20 minute walk from the hotel’s doors. Its narrow streets are dotted with plenty of bars, local restaurants, cafes, antique stores and artisan shops. The hotel also offers a convenient and complimentary shuttle into town as well :)
Parco dei Principi’s main restaurant, Gio Ponti, is named for the architect himself. Surrounded by towering windows with a full panoramic view of the gulf, the restaurant's dining area is the ideal spot for a romantic evening meal. Known especially for its seafood, Gio Ponti offers up many of the traditional Italian dishes you’d expect while featuring several plates unique specifically to Sorrento.
Dishes like fresh fish and lemon pasta with mussels, and a hearty lasagna seem like classics, yet with the presentation and little twists, the dishes were so much more extraordinary. Seemingly in homage to Ponti’s modernist art, each dish was arranged and plated with a strict concern for visual balance and almost looked too good to eat. This is a beautiful restaurant with exceptional service, yet has the casual niceness we love. The servers were engaged and personal; they knew exactly how to deliver service that hit the sweet spot between prompt but not rushed, giving us plenty of time to take in our meal and the view.
Parco dei Principi is a stylish design hotel with an incredible location right on the water. Designed by Gio Ponti, Italy’s most iconic 20th century architect, the 96 room resort featured wonderfully preserved rooms that are true to their original design and custom furnishings.
Although it’s not overly dedicated to accommodating kids, it’s a perfect spot for a family trip. Adults are kept happy and kids are kept entertained! It’s a perfect spot to spend the days lounging at the beach club, and taking in an aperitivo during sunset on its beautiful veranda.
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