Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Unwind in Idyllic Ischia

terrazza-hero.jpg
caffetteria-hero.jpg

Stylist’s Anna Hart discovers a serene hideaway in the form of a one-time monastery on the Italian island of Ischia

I always plan a holiday as if I’m choosing a dish off a menu. I want to be sure that my choice will leave me completely satiated, that I won’t find myself glaring enviously at a friend’s holiday snaps on Facebook with the sinking realisation that she made the better decision. Food envy has nothing on holiday envy.

When I decided to visit the island of Ischia, I wanted sunshine, sea and serene surroundings. I got exactly that.

Nestled in the Gulf of Naples alongside her chi-chi celebrity sister, Capri, Ischia is just an hour’s ferry ride from the city of Naples. Most UK visitors see a trip here either as a restorative add-on to a cultural weekend in Naples or Pompeii, or a refreshingly affordable supplement to the expensive and overcrowded Amalfi coast. Italian families, by contrast, come to Ischia in their droves during August, and stay for a week or more. They visit for the hot springs (heated by Vesuvius, volcanic status: active), beautiful southern beaches and lively family meals in Ischia Porto’s buzzing harbourside restaurants.

Locals say that the best time to visit is early September when the weather is still good and the sea is warm, but the beaches are less crowded. However, whenever you go, it’s relatively easy to escape the masses, as I discovered during my stay at Albergo Il Monastero, one of the most atmospheric, serene and stylish hotels I’ve ever stayed at.

It makes a bold first impression, housed in a former monastery within the 16th-century Aragonese Castle, perched on top of a rocky outcrop connected to the main island by a narrow causeway. The castle itself is one of the island’s main attractions. Visitors queue for entry at the foot of the rocks but, as hotel guests, we were waved through to a lift in the cliff that transported us skywards.

Inside, rooms (originally monks’ cells) are simple and tranquil, with spartan whitewashed walls, traditional terracotta tiles and darkwood furniture, allowing the views of the Mediterranean, the castle’s turrets and the rocky coastline to take centre stage.

Dinner on the terrace (buffalo mozzarella followed by an Ischian speciality of braised rabbit, alongside vegetables grown in the castle’s garden) was by far the best meal of our trip and, at €70 (£59) for two, including wine, it was only marginally more expensive than meals at the identikit harbourside restaurants, yet infinitely more memorable.

We spent our days exploring the beautiful beaches of the southern coast, wandering the cobbled streets and pausing for affogati (a mixture of coffee and ice cream) in the main hub of Ischia Porto, a 15-minute bus ride from the hotel’s causeway.

We also determinedly visited a thermal spa park, Negombo, before realising that steaming thermal pools don’t really appeal during an August heatwave. Visit in September or October, however, and you’ll have the vast array of pools, from rock-hewn hot waterfalls to saltwater swimming pools, virtually to yourself.

Every night we looked forward to returning to our castle in the sky: Albergo Il Monastero might just be the nicest bit of Ischia. So, if you’re hungry for a holiday with bucketloads of style and culture, food and history, this is the hotel for you.

Doubles at Albergo Il Monastero (albergoilmonastero.it) Ischia, Italy, start at £100 per night, B&B. EasyJet (easyjet.com) flies from London Stansted to Naples from £75 return

Related

Mystique_rt.jpg

Island Hopping in the Cyclades

view.jpg

Quiet contemplation on Italy's Amalfi coast

travhero.jpg

NYC's most fashionable 'hood

Comments

More

The adventure-hungry pilot encouraging female aviators everywhere

Eser Aksan Erdogan is high on life

by Anna Brech
17 Feb 2017

Need solo travel inspiration? Find your dream destination here

City break or beach holiday...?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
16 Feb 2017

Where to go in spring: the best holidays for March, April and May

Insider knowledge on falling prices, the best springtime skiing and avoiding tourist hordes

by Amy Swales
15 Feb 2017

The 12 hippest European neighbourhoods to visit this year

Coffee shops, vintage boutiques, and outsider art, from Athens to Oslo.

by Moya Crockett
14 Feb 2017

Soak up sea views and culture in Barcelona

Stylist's entertainment editor Helen Bownass rediscovers Barcelona's cool

by Helen Bownass
07 Feb 2017

There's a new Gin School and we're desperate to enrol

Me please, Miss

by Kayleigh Dray
01 Feb 2017

A winter wonderland in the Canadian Rockies

As Canada celebrates its 150th birthday, Stylist’s Sue Fowler straps on her skis and tours the Rockies.

by The Stylist web team
31 Jan 2017

Who needs the Caribbean? The best islands in the UK

Time to book that time off work and enjoy a staycation

by Deborah Cicurel
30 Jan 2017

LA to launch sexual harassment hotline on public transport

It's the first city in the world to launch a dedicated hotline

by Sarah Biddlecombe
18 Jan 2017

Enjoy London in style - and on a budget

Soaking up London's cultural delights needn't cost the earth finds Stylist's photographer and specialist director, Tom Gormer

by The Stylist web team
17 Jan 2017