A luxurious holiday with children - Italy is the place to do it. House & Garden's art director Jennifer Lister and her family live la dolce vita on Italy's Sorrentine peninsula
A polite person might describe my two daughters as 'sensitive' or 'introverted'. A less charitable person would say they're awkward and sheepish and just might offer you their time and affection if they know you very well. Having said that, the welcome was so warm at the Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria in Sorrento that is was irresistible. The kind head concierge Antonino Gallano unexpectedly swept up our youngest Betty into his arms, time froze and we waited for her to yell...but she didn't! She smiled! And hugged him! And that little moment, at the start of our holiday, sums up the whole stay.
The Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria has been owned and loved by the Fiorentino family since it was founded in 1834, which probably explains why my family loved it too. The family's fifth generation is running the hotel today, and together with their staff, they are discreetly on hand to accommodate the guest's every whim.
Celebrating its 144th birthday this year, the hotel is located in the heart of Sorrento. The hotel's spectacular Art Deco winter garden, adorned with classical busts, sets it back from the bustling main square, where restaurants, bars and shops are tucked down pretty, winding streets. Built on the edge of a high cliff, the hotel features a large terrace that has awesome, sweeping views of Mount Vesuvius and Naples across the bay. It is an oasis of calm.
The beautiful public rooms ooze history, furnished with antiques and fine paintings that instantly transport you . All of this gilt-trim could make a family of four self concious, but somehow Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria manages to welcome everyone, international royalty or awkward toddler.
Our bedroom was large and lavishly decorated with frescoes and a view of the olive and lemon groves. Tempting as it was to spend entire days at the hotel - we loved the hotel's Michelin starred restaurant Terrazza Bosquet and the children loved the pool - it's well worth resisting this urge and venturing out. A lift from the terrace takes guests down to the hotel's harbourside for trips along the coast to the islands of Capri and Ischia. A short train ride will take you to the ancient town of Pompeii, or simply spend a morning soaking up the dolce vita spirit of Sorrento's Renaissance and Baroque old town.
has rooms from €460 per night, based on 2 sharing a classic garden view room on a B&B basis (excluding 10% VAT).