Before Capri became famous, there was Ischia: a volcanic island overlooking the stunning Bay of Naples with views of Mount Vesuvius. During Italy’s La Dolce Vita era, Ischia was the destination for Italian film stars, royalty, and the uber glamorous. The five-star L’Albergo di Regina Isabella Hotel and Health Spa permanently secured its place in Ischia’s heyday. Inspired by the island’s healing thermal waters, legendary Italian film producer Angelo Rizzoli had the vision to build a hotel where glamor and health blend seamlessly.
With a history of pleasing the world’s most refined (and sometimes demanding) guests, today the Regina Isabella doesn’t disappoint. I enjoyed every drop of La Dolce Vita that I experienced there, thoroughly delighted in its relaxed seaside chic, and pinched myself while dining at its Michelin-starred restaurant Indaco. The legendary spa with healing thermal waters and infused mud washed away every fiber of tension in my body. Days melted away and hours were counted by empty Prosecco bottles. The wonderful staff with their old world service spoiled me. Within hours of my arrival, I was enchanted. By the end of my stay, I understood why guests return here every summer – some for 40 years – and bring the grandchildren. For what would be a summer in Italy without the Regina Isabella?
My day started with breakfast at the Sporting Restaurant in my bathrobe. This is no ordinary breakfast. The maître escorted me to my table with a sweeping sea view of Lacco Ameno. I was fussed over multiple handsome waiters ensuring that my cappuccino was just right and inquiring if I had tasted the fresh fruit from the island. Add in a glass of Prosecco, this is what Italian breakfast dreams are made of. And it’s only ten o’clock!
While steeped in history, the Regina Isabella hasn’t lost its sexiness. It’s the perfect marriage of old world charm and updated modern chic. Large pieces of provocative art hang in the suites. Add in private thermal jacuzzis on the balcony and you just might stay forever. Most of its 128 rooms have a balcony, sweeping views of the sea, or garden view. They range from a standard single to the Royal Suites with a separate living room and two bathrooms in their own tower on the bluff. Even the amenities have style and flair.
I was told by a guest not to leave without dining at Indaco, its Michelin-starred restaurant. I booked that night. It’s not often to see the sun set over the Bay of Naples while being served a 6-course tasting menu created by executive chef (and Ischian local) Pasquale Palamaro. The magical azure blue sky turned from orange to red. Then twilight to starry black. The tasting menu led me through divine flavors and textures. Add the Tour of Italy wine flight and after the moonrise, I declared that dining at Indaco was one of the most magical nights of my life.
Once spoiled by the beauty, charm, staff, and cuisine at the Regina Isabella, it’s hard not to imagine life without breakfast views at the Sporting Restaurant in my bathrobe and Michelin-starred dinners en plein air at sunset. What soothes my soul, is that I’ll be back in Italy. And yes, back in Ischia at the Regina Isabella. The perfect time capsule of Italy’s La Dolce Vita chic, nothing compares to the iconic Regina Isabella. Some hotels, you never want to change. Because the second time you visit is even sweeter.
L’Albergo della Regina Isabella *****L
Piazza Santa Restituta, 1
80076 Lacco Ameno – Ischia (Na), Italy
+39 081 99 43 22
*I was a guest of the Regina Isabella Hotel & Spa. This review is a true representation of my experience at the hotel.
*Images courtesy of Donna Sozio and the Regina Isabella Hotel & Spa