“Naples, you’re going to that city of crime and mugging?” I was asked by a friend. It wasn’t defiance that my spouse and I had decided to return after decades but to visit a city that had history, surrounded by sparkling water. O.k. I left my jewellery at home but now having been there, it certainly wasn’t necessary. However, all that talk about crime so over done. It just is not so. Of course, I’m sure it exists in various parts of this large city but that’s true in every major city in the world. It’s just a matter of thinking smart.
What we discovered was a very civilized destination, absolutely beautiful old ruins, great shopping and informative trips on the “On/Off buses, especially the coastal trip. What is so very impressive- better still skilful – is even though the traffic is as bad as it could get, cars buses and trucks squeezing into a inch of space,there was little honking. More clever drivers were those on the thousands of motorcycles and bikes that whizzed this way and that, nerve making for any foreign onlooker but very natural to the locals.
However,that said, after a long flight to Rome then the train to Naples, we hit the golden target with our hotel, The Excelsior Hotel. The location can’t be beat. At a corner, it overlooks the marina,seaside promenade, ancient monuments and well known mountains like Vesuvius and the facility to walk to transportation, cafes, the Galleria and other notable cited sites.
The lobby of the Excelsior Hotel is the perfect introduction of what to expect. Grand in the most traditional way yet still with all the modern conveniences. This massive entrance with the always present and helpful concierge and luggage handlers, gives way to a small, discreet reception area with the very well informed staff. And one can’t overlook the amazing slightly curved staircase with the marble balustrades and ancient bust.
Once an old palace, (the Italians always and still know how to live extremely well) the charm of the crystal chandeliers, carpets and period furniture set the scene of the Belle Epoque.
If the walls of this century old building could tell tales, they’d be gossiping about the aristocrats, royals, celebrities who have stayed in this regal oasis in the heart of the city. This isn’t usually the case. One has to go far out of the core to get the serenity but The Excelsior exceeds in the quietude. A great addition is the view the top floor’s intimate outdoor small La Terrazza Bar which by 5PM is always filled, to the turn of the century charm of the rooms. The grandeur is in being there with the stunning Murano glass chandelier, the burnt orange striped damask padded silk walls, the completely redone sizeable fine brownish marble bathroom. That said, any sprinkle of water on those shiny luxe marble flooring would have a guest take a terrible tumble. After all, Naples is not the city one wants to spend in an emergency hospital rooms. What is so unusual in older buildings is the availability of handicapped accessible rooms and The Excelsior has one. The balcony off the room offered a view of the marina and not until we crossed the small bridge did we discover a village of some of the city’s finest restaurants, all bustling with locals, usually with freshly caught fish as their secondi after the pasta order. However, if you’re exhausted after a day of sight seeing, then the hotel restaurant has a perfect menu even for the fussiest eater.
Breakfast was always a treat to be able to sit outdoors and just stare at the marvellous view.
The name Excelsior is perfect. In Latin it means the best and it is.
Address via Partenope 48