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Hotel Caruso - Ravello, Italy | Hotel Review

A Disappointing 5-Star Resort


Hotel Caruso - Ravello, Italy Ravello is a small town overlooking the beautiful Amalfi Coastline, a tourist attraction to pleasure seekers the world over. We stayed at Hotel Caruso and Palazzo Sasso for a few days, both of which are 5-star luxury hotels overlooking the Mediterranean. Although both are holders of their fair share of prestigious hotel awards and only very slight price variations when it comes to their rooms, they both provide completely different experiences. Hotel Caruso is owned and operated by Orient Express, which owns chains of hotels around the world.

First Impression/Lobby: The quick 30 minute drive to Ravello from Amalfi was one of the most visually pleasant drives I've taken in my entire life, with its natural scenic beauty that seems to be the norm here in the Amalfi Coast. As we neared Ravello, I conjured up images of just how awe-inspiring Hotel Caruso was going to be, and when we did arrive at the hotel, it certainly did not disappoint! It was a masterpiece.

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Reception: We arrived at the Caruso early, and what greeted us was a dazzling lobby exuding stately class. It spoke volumes of the hotel's knack for exquisite interiors and hinted at the gorgeous architecture and other interiors that awaited us. The staff warmly received us as we made our way to the front desk for check in. Since our room wasn't ready yet, we were offered a tour of the hotel while the necessary preparations were made. That single tour was enough to whet my appetite for our entire vacation.

Our guide showed us all the Caruso had to offer: the hotel's gardens, dining areas, patios, terraces, and of course, the breathtaking view of the sea. The Caruso is one of those few places on earth where each corner brings visitors visual pleasure unlike any other.

Pool: A five star luxury hotel is not complete without a stunning pool. In the Hotel Caruso's case, their infinity pool was simply amazing. The best thing about infinity pools is that they merge seamlessly with the usually deep blue horizon, and the pool here takes it a step further by giving you the most fantastic view of the Amalfi Coast. It was like viewing the world's most painstakingly composed postcard; it's simply that good.

If the pool itself isn't enough, the service was beyond my expectations, with servers doing everything from setting up your pool chair at the perfect angle to giving you Evian water to mist yourself should all this excitement heat you up too much. Most importantly, they did it with pure enthusiasm and charm.

The Suite: When our room was ready, we were all so hyped up from taking the hotel tour and seeing the pool that expectations were very high for our deluxe suite. When we got in (room 208), we were in for the biggest disappointment ever!

Our deluxe suite simply did not have the class, style and chic d├ęcor of the entire hotel. For a moment, I thought that we stepped into another hotel's suite by mistake! The interior design of the room was incongruent, everything looked much too commercial and mass produced (probably because it's owned by a hotel chain operator, in this case Orient Express), and the furniture was simply drab. Take for instance, the sea-foam green couch and the bookcase that had fake books in it which hid the mini-bar. It was as if I was sitting in some cheesy 70's spy film!

The designer for our particular room must have had quite a time putting things together, as none of the important elements of a harmoniously designed interior fell into place. The colors were clashing, the chandelier looked cheap instead of elegantly chic, and there even was a portrait of an old world sailing ship, it reminded me of something you would find at a garage sale. The poor decorating made me feel like stepping into a parallel universe.

Luckily at least the suite had one redeeming feature, the bathroom. It had two basin sinks, a separate shower and bathtub, and a private toilet. It also had lots of space to store your luggage, hang your clothes, and whatever else you've brought along on the trip.

As is the norm with five-star hotels, the bathroom was stocked with premium amenities, however instead of the Bulgari products we were told we would find we found an odd assortment of brands. It looked like they had picked up whatever happened to be on sale that month. There was Penhaligons shampoo, Molten Brown face wash, and finally Bulgari hand soap and lotion. Not a five-star presentation if you ask me.

Room Service: Even though the room was a bit of a letdown, excellent room service always brings a smile to our faces. When we ordered a three-course dinner for a lovely meal on our terrace, however, we found the food to be mediocre. Although the service was adequate, I expected much more, especially for the price that we were paying.

At least I can say the room service was consistent. When we called for breakfast the next day, our order was incorrect and incomplete, thus prodding us to call room service two more times just to get our proper order. Our experience here was a complete opposite to what were soon going to experience at Palazzo Sasso!

Housekeeping: Hotel Caruso's housekeeping could use some beefing up too. Instead of keeping everything neat, tidy and presentable, I found small but significant details had been neglected; things such as empty glasses and wine bottles being left outside on the terrace or clothes put in a heap instead of folded. Simple things left undone make the difference between five-star luxury and mediocrity.

One afternoon we took a break from the sun and pool and tried their upscale, outdoor restaurant, located behind the pool restaurant. Unlike the Palazzo Sasso's two-star Michelin restaurant, the Caruso had a so-so restaurant where we spent two hours completing an average meal with an exorbitant price.

On the other hand, the Caruso's restaurant along the pool was fantastic! Fresh and delicious seafood accompanied by fine wine and excellent service all made for a special dining experience that I will remember for a long time.

Overall Impression: Altogether, I was not overwhelmed by Hotel Caruso's service, staff, interior and food. Although they have some nice perks like free Wi-Fi, the hotel fails to keep the smaller and more important details in check, such as the potpourri of bathroom amenities, poor room interior design, and even the fact that the newspaper was not delivered to my door in the morning! Because of the many failures, the Hotel Caruso does not deserve a bombastic rating. Luckily right next door is the fantastic bombastic hotel, the Palazzo Sasso.

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