Over a ‘ladies lunch’, the quartet discussed their recent travels. Then the destination, the fabled, Isle of Capri came up. As a peripatetic travel writer who has been around the world several times and to the most exotic destinations that most people just dream about , I blushingly had to admit that I had never been to Capri. However, timing is everything and I was about to embark, with my spouse, on a two week trip to Italy, including that famous Isle of Capri.
Naturally, the next question was about my accommodations. I had already booked at a well known property near the bustling Piazetta, the heart of this island, since I like to feel the pulse of a city, meet the locals and see the activity.
However, Shaenea, one of the chicest woman I know, suggested an hotel where she and her husband stay annually, I hadn’t heard about it..
Her description so intrigued me that as soon as I returned to my computer, I Googled J.K. Place Hotel Capri. Although all brochures, publicity pamphlets and photos look glamorous, they often don’t come close in reality. But the relatively newly opened J.K. Place had all the markings of a unique hotel so that’s where my husband and I opted to stay.
Once a private villa turned hotel in 1891, when it was finally sold to the present owners, it was a deteriorating edifice. Now, not only has it recaptured the essence of true luxury, it has all the fabulous statements of the decor and needs of today as J.K. sits majestically overlooking the Gulf of Naples.
The 45 minute hydrofoil (15 minutes by helicopter) ride over the waters of the Bay of Naples went smoothly , even giving us the opportunity to see the silhouette of Vesuvius . And just as we were in sight of this renowned island, I knew it would be one of my great travel highlights. Just seeing the cluster of white estates, some clinging to the hillside, others perfectly perched on the hilly terrain plus the greenery and the colorful florals is reason enough for the constantly filled 22 room hotel. Just a ‘baby’, in the hotel industry on this revered isle where the famed singer, Gracie Fields gave it legendary recognition and Jackie O was known to have her sandals and shoes made, J.K. turned out to be even more than expected.
Waiting for our room, away from the ‘madding crowd’, mulling the location, sitting on the stylishly decorated terrace overlooking a panoramic view of the port and restaurants, but far enough away not to be aware of the hoots and various noises, the vista was astonishing.
As for the hotel, I’m picky and very attentive to detail but obviously so was the architect/designer, Michele Bonan. He turned this estate into an incredible mix of modernity without grandeur and tossed in some historic statues and exemplary two 3 metre Oriental vases which seem to be the centre of attraction in the JKitchen Lounge and Restaurant. The menu is definitely authentic Italian, essentially Caprese cuisine.
At first glance, the stunning simplicity is the first impression. But soon the details become visible. The Library was adorned mainly with art and stylish books creatively placed as though no one would dare to touch the shelves they were on. But in fact, the room is the perfect venue to read and many of the tomes were taken off and then neatly set back by the staff as though the room was never touched.
Crisp white is the dominant color but then deep blue has a place as though it is part of the sky and the sea. Some walls are artfully decorated with great black and white vintage photos of well known guests and along the curved stair case wall there’s a colorful break with a portrait of Portrait of Lady Ashley. The staff member I spoke with didn’t know how it became part of the collection of if the Lady was a frequent guest. Anyway, it’s placement and color plays off the stair carpets. Well chosen is the color oyster grey, in one of the public rooms where the trimming is pure white and one wall is adorned with a sensational series of white framed inserts of small photos.Perfect design everywhere made guests aware of how perfection could add to any venue.
It’s difficult not to have a fine view from just about any area. If it’s not overlooking the water, the pool, the harbor, then it’s the private homes but only two rooms don’t have a water view.
Each morning brought more gushing from us since one doesn’t get tired of beauty. Even the slight sprinkling of rain drops seemed to be a great background for a film. The short spray couldn’t keep us from walking to the heated pool and one of the only private beaches on the island.
The staff was in a class of its own. There was nothing that you asked for that couldn’t be done. ..phone for a dinner reservation at one of the top restaurants in the center-done. Ask where to find great Italian linens or the famed designed jewelry (I disclose this fact that since I also write about jewelry and openly admit that it is an occupational hazards) – and of course, a few suggestions although there are so many jewelry shops in the city, one wonders if there are more than even leather wear stores. Need a lift to the city? The hotel’s shuttle service is always available to take you down the hill for the approximately 5 minute trip and then meets you for pick up whenever you call or have pre planned.
And we learned that on ‘never on Sunday’ applies to Capri. There are masses of day trippers and cruise liners from Naples that it becomes elbow to elbow along the streets and square. One Sunday while we were there, 20,000 tourists had descended here, making it an ideal day to return to J.K. as quickly as possible.
It was pure joy to return to a cup of great coffee, sit on the terrace watching the activity at the Marina Grande and know that J.K. Place would offer us the serenity and the warm greeting on the return from all our excursions.
So for Shaenea, I thank her for suggesting this small, exquisite truly boutique hotel with the finest staff and decor that made me want to return home and renovate my house.