Hotel La Palma, Capri, Italy

Posted in Projects on 16 May, 2024

Oetker’s first Italian Masterpiece is sublimely elegant.

The most historic hotel on the Italian island of Capri, fondly dubbed the Artist’s Hotel in its heyday, is soaking up the limelight once more following a glamorous revamp. The transformation is the result of a partnership between Oetker Collection, which adds Hotel La Palma to its Masterpiece portfolio, and owner Reuben Brothers, whose acquisition includes La Taverna Anema e Core, a famous nightclub frequented by celebrities set in the same premises.

Originally opened in 1822 and known formerly as Locanda Pagano, the property is the oldest hotel on Capri. The original owner, notary Giuseppe Pagano, hosted travellers in his villa for the pleasure of long conversations. His guests were artists, poets, writers, architects, painters, and musicians, who showed their gratitude by painting the walls, writing poems, singing, and playing.

The new hotel is the first designed by interiors visionary Francis Sultana, who collaborated with Italian craftsmen and local artisans to create an inviting home away from home. The two-and-a-half-year renovation saw the number of guestrooms decreased from 80 to 50, including 18 suites, each with a private balcony or terrace.

Francis designed everything himself – from bathroom taps to dining chairs. He has captured Capri’s lightness and minimalism while injecting flair and flourishes in a nod to the island’s 1950s jet-set era. Calming hues of Mediterranean blue, green and turquoise complement the hotel interior’s soothing natural aesthetic and allow textures to come to the fore to create rooms that are tranquil, tactile, and welcoming.

Above clockwise: Pool and sundeck; Gennaro’s bar; Lobby. Top: Gennaro’s restaurant

All guestrooms lead into marble and bronze-lined bathrooms that reflect Francis’ signature aesthetic. Paying homage to its roots and ensuring the hotel retained an authentic sense of place, Francis commissioned pieces by Italian craftsmen and local artisans, including in-room artworks by Luisa Lambri, handmade rattan furniture by Bonacina, and custom bathroom fittings by Stella.

“Capri is an island that I love. Hotel La Palma is an iconic hotel that everyone will adore in its new lease of life. I wanted my design to reflect the very special relationship I have with Capri, that was love at first sight from my first visit in my early 20s; an island of romanticism and great aesthetes with a beauty and great inspiration for creativity, in all its forms,” Francis said.

He planned the foyer as an artistic statement, paying homage to Hotel La Palma’s original incarnation as a place where artists once stayed and would leave artworks behind to pay their bills. Ceiling frescos by Roberto Ruspoli – ‘the artist who reinvented frescos’ – honour Italy’s classical past.

“In these paintings, conceived as contemporary frescoes, the classical figures have been inspired by the Roman world. The passage of emperors floats dramatically in blue and green tones, evocative of the sky, sea, and nature; and like ancient fallen plaster, leaves room for the shape of palm trees,” Roberto said.

The hotel has two restaurants and bars, its own private beach club, a newly built pool deck, and a spa. It is a gourmand’s delight, with Gennaro’s restaurant, bar, and terrace under the direction of chef Gennaro Esposito, a culinary hero in Italy who has run his own two-Michelin star restaurant, Torre del Saracino in Vico Equense, Naples, for the past 23 years. A step back in time to the Capri of the 1950s, Gennaro’s embraces the timeless romance of the island, serving unpretentious, authentic Italian cuisine in a contemporary, vibrant setting that shuns formality. With a vantage point looking down upon the bustling streets of Capri, Gennaro’s terrace provides an atmospheric backdrop. Another highlight is Bianca, a glamorous, newly built rooftop restaurant and bar with spectacular views over Capri village and the sea in the distance. The hotel’s new pool deck boasts an elegant bar that pays homage to the classic Capri of the golden age.

Reception desk and stairs

Gennaro said: “We want to offer visitors an authentic Italian experience in keeping with the times, however, above all, we pride ourselves on providing a warm and welcoming experience full of Italian flavour.
Our cuisine will of course consist of local specialties, although these will be creatively enriched and reinterpreted.”

The hotel’s wellness area comprises three treatment rooms, including a double suite, and a dedicated beauty cabin. There is also a wet area with a salt room, sauna, Turkish bath, and sensory showers. A fitness area includes state-of-the-art gym machines.

Bianca, a glamorous, newly built rooftop restaurant and bar with spectacular views over Capri village and the sea in the distance

In a hotel first, legendary Italian beauty brand Santa Maria Novella, which has roots dating back to 1221, provides Hotel La Palma’s bathroom amenities. The hotel has also collaborated with style guru Gianluca Longo for an exclusive Hotel La Palma capsule collection, which includes a selection of bespoke products from Italian brands that represent craftsmanship and quality. This includes designs by La Double J, Marinella, Farella, Aquazzurra, Panizza 1879, Marella, Allegra Hicks, Chiara Grifantini, Emilia Brano and La Gae L.

The hotel’s reputation for style and beauty looks set to live on.

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