Hotel San Francesco al Monte should be at the top of your list for accommodations if you’re visiting Naples. Not only is it a luxurious and beautiful place to stay, but the view of the city is unparalled, and you simply must see the treasures on the third floor!
In a rather nondescript, cream-colored building set within a hill in Naples, just below St. Martin’s Monastery and St. Elmo’s Castle, lies Hotel San Francesco al Monte. This building was originally a 16th century monastery run by the “Barbanti” monks, known for their long beards.
Disclosure: my mother and I were hosted for a two night stay with dinner by Hotel St. Francesco al Monte with no terms or conditions. (I was not asked to write a post or review, however, I enjoyed my stay so much, I cannot keep this gem from you.) As always, all opinions are my own.
Today, you can stay here and look out of your window for an incredible view of Vesuvius, sitting quietly, if not, majestically, over the city of Naples. The view here can’t be beat as it encompasses almost 180 degrees of Neapolitan beauty; from the sea to the expanse of the city of Naples.
I was in Southern Italy this last June and just fell in love with Naples, only an hour south of my mother’s village where I’ve spent years of my life! Mum had never really visited properly either, so when we had a chance to go before taking our AmaWaterways Melodies of the Danube cruise (posts to come), I couldn’t resist taking her, too.
We took a taxi from the airport directly to Hotel San Franceso al Monte, and were there in less than 20 minutes as the trip is only about 5 miles. You must be careful when taking taxis in Naples (and other European cities): make sure to ask what the total cost will be before agreeing to ride. We also told our driver we only had credit cards and he said he didn’t take them, but lo and behold, out popped a credit card machine at the end of our trip! I don’t recommend renting a car in Naples (don’t even ask)!
Hotel San Francesco al Monte in Naples
In case you might think that the hotel actually feels like a monastery–it doesn’t. It’s just an elegant, and peaceful place that is a fantastic location from which to explore Naples.
We left our luggage until our room was ready since we arrived in the morning and went out for a coffee and pastry. Mum was absolutely dying for a sfogliatelle, her very favorite Italian pastry. Naples is the best place for them and she just couldn’t wait! I, on the other hand, had been waiting three months for a rum babà!
Neither of us were in the least bit disappointed! Neapolitan pastries have to be amongst the best in the world!
I should add, although Hotel San Francesco al Monte is located atop a hill, there’s no need to worry about walking up and down from the main part of the city (unless you want to). You’ve assuredly heard the Neapolitan song, Funiculi Funicula? Well, it’s about the funiculars in Naples, and one of them takes you from one of the main streets in the city right up to where Hotel San Francesco al Monte is located!
The stop is only about a five minute walk and very inexpensive (I’d recommend getting day or week passes, depending on your stay). The tickets are also good for other public transportation like the underground and buses.
We returned to our hotel and were awed by our absolutely gorgeous room with a view of the city and Vesuvius! Here’s a little tour.
The bed itself was comfortable, but the decor was classic Italian, complete with antique furniture and even frescos: divine!
This was a little room off of the main bedroom! Where will you ever find a space like this in your hotel room?
The bathroom was up some stairs and had a fancy shower, but we only used the normal part as we couldn’t get the fancy stuff to work! After settling in, we went up to the seventh floor to see the pool, gardens, terraces, and views. This is definitely one of the best parts of the hotel, especially in warmer weather.
Seventh Floor Amenities at Hotel San Francesco al Monte
The rooftop garden, pool and terraces are simply stunning, and of course, they all come with that million dollar view. The hotel’s restaurant, I Barbanti, is also located on the seventh floor.
The pool (photo courtesy of Hotel San Francesco al Monte).
The Common Areas and Third Floor of Hotel San Francesco Al Monte
There are lots of places around the hotel to relax or even just explore.
No, the hotel isn’t under construction here. This is part of the the unique characteristic and charm of this hotel.
There are religious artifacts throughout the hotel, I would assume, from the original monastery.
And beautiful stained glass windows.
Someone at the front desk instructed us not to miss the third floor. Thank goodness he told us because look at what we would have missed in the refectory.
Mum and I walked in here and went in different directions and I realized, after going further and further back into the caves, that I should tell her where I was. Too late, she thought I’d gone back to the room!
Mum and I were both blown away by these rooms and the artistic style in which they were designed, as well as the plethora of artwork.
However, continue traveling through the labyrinth of rooms and you’ll discover tiled steps which seem to go down and into the mountain itself.
I had gone back to the room to find Mum and brought her back her with me. She was just as awed as I was, and we spent more time exploring this part of our incredible hotel. We felt as if we were in a museum and should have paid to enter!
Breakfast at the Hotel
Breakfast is included with your stay at Hotel San Francesco al Monte. I might add, you may not need to eat lunch afterwards. The quality and selection of food available is marvelous. So if you simply want granola and yogurt, or a full on bacon and eggs breakfast complete with Mimosas, you’re set!
You could also just go for Prosecco and cakes!
Don’t worry, there’s also fresh fruit, meat and cheese trays, honeycomb and more.
The famous Neapolitan coffee, tea and hot chocolate is also a given, and you can dine inside or outside.
There are several bars and private chef’s dinners available at Hotel San Francesco al Monte. Mum and I had dinner at…
Restaurant: “La Terrazza dei Barbanti”
The dinner we had at La Terrazza dei Barbanti was absolutely superb. From our first course to last, it was completely wonderful. We did have to eat inside as it was raining that evening, but the view still didn’t disappoint.
One of my very favorite dishes of the evening was this starter which I was hesitant to order. Please excuse my food photos as it was dark, as you can see, and all I had was artificial lighting
It was described as “Cold buffalo milk soup with candied tomatoes and basil.” I had no idea what to expect, but all I can tell you was that the milk tasted like liquefied burrata (!), the candied tomatoes weren’t super sweet and basil mousse just added the gilding to the lily! It was sublime.
Mum enjoyed her local red wine and I had white which was also very good, both from the same vintner, D’Aione from Campania.
We didn’t order a pasta dish as we’d already eaten quite a few things around the city earlier in the day. We were both delighted with our second courses, though. The first photo is my mother’s starter: eggplant inside a crispy crust with tomatoes and mozzarella. I don’t like eggplant and even I liked it! The second photo is my panko breaded swordfish, baby vegetables and yogurt with pink peppercorn sauce which was excellent all around. My mother’s grilled beef filet with asparagus and corn with green sauce was also top notch, as you can even see from the photos.
Lastly, my mother ended with a phenomenal cheese plate with honey and ‘mustard.’ She was in dairy heaven as every single Italian cheese she tried was better than the last (I can attest to this)!
However, you have probably guessed that I ordered something a little more sweet to end my dinner. Even though I had that rum babà in the morning, how could I pass up the mini babà dessert here, especially when our head waiter, Dario, convinced me? I didn’t regret it one bit, either. The sponges were soaked in an orange-flavored liqueuer which was magnificent, and I’m not exaggerating!
Dario did us one last favor when we asked if he’d take our picture! He really made sure we had a lovely evening; grazie, Dario!
I really hope I’ve conveyed how unique, yet welcoming and relaxing Hotel San Francesco al Monte is. Oh, I almost forgot to mention that they also have a spa, which we didn’t use, but maybe next time.
For more information on the history of the hotel, or for pricing or reservations, click the link below. Please note, like many smaller and historical European hotels, I wouldn’t recommend Hotel San Francesco al Monte for anyone who cannot take stairs, or has limited mobility. There are elevators, but it’s simply not a good choice.
As disclosed above, I was hosted, but there were no terms or conditions attached.