Sweetness at La Suite, Procida
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Silver Traveller Geoff Ramshaw and his wife Sue visited La Suite Hotel on Procida as our Guest Bloggers in May 2013.
Thank goodness for the welcoming Prosecco and nibbles at La Suite Hotel! These were so enjoyable after the frustration of a four hour easyJet delay at Stansted, which had robbed us of some valuable time in Procida. As we thankfully lay back in the comfortable chairs on our room’s veranda, we remarked the difference to the dull and rather ugly streets of Naples, just 45 minutes away by hydrofoil. Here all was serene and beautiful, with sunshine, box shrubs, palms, olive trees, lemon trees, Mediterranean pines, and the scent of the hotel’s herb garden.
The prospect of a swim before dinner was too good to resist! The delightful small pool, constructed in natural materials from an ancient rainwater collection basin and just a few steps away, was just right for gentle exercise, followed by relaxation on one of the numerous comfortable Indonesian sunbeds and recliners, in the remaining rays of the evening sun.
For our first evening meal we took the advice of Chiara, our friendly receptionist, about a good local restaurant and, taking time out to watch the sunset at the nearby beach, strolled for 20 minutes through narrow high-walled lanes to ‘La Pergola’ with its large pergola covered and interwoven with lemon trees; By the way, Procida lemons are huge - larger than any we had seen before – and have another special quality, of which more later.
Cheerfully welcomed by our La Pergola host, we enjoyed an excellent and good value meal, of which the highlights for me were the ad lib home-baked sourdough bread with olive oil; farfalle (butterfly) pasta with tasty tomato, lemon and zucchini sauce; and local speciality Coniglio (rabbit) alla Procidana. The house red Montepulciano wine from the Puglia district was a perfectly good accompaniment; smooth, with blackcurrant and vanilla flavours.
Attractive low-level and decorative lighting welcomed us back to the hotel, and we were glad, after our early start in the UK, to retire to our comfortable and air-conditioned room, with its barrel-vault ceiling and king-sized bed. Once we had found out how to turn off the built-in fan heater, we spent very peaceful nights here, with no sound louder than the dawn chorus from the garden. The en-suite bathroom was spacious, with a huge shower enclosure offering a choice of overhead or hand-held inlets.
As UK temperatures fell rapidly, we were able to breakfast in the Italian sunshine under the attractive garden pergola, and watch the mating habits of small green-headed lizards. With a great choice of fruit juice, cereals, chopped and whole fruits, cooked and dried meats, eggs, yoghurt, breads, rolls, croissants, and chocolate or yoghurt cake, breakfast was a delight, and the coffee that Rose brought to our table strong and good.
And the special quality of the Procida lemons? It is their sweetness, as explained by the hotel gardener, who claims to grow the sweetest of all on his own smallholding. He also supplies his own olive oil to the kitchens, and cultivates tomatoes, courgettes and salad crops (including very peppery rocket) in the hotel garden itself, which also boasts two herb beds with lavender, oregano, sage, rosemary, mint and parsley. The chef Alfonso of course makes use of these in his cooking.
We had an opportunity to put this to the test when dining at the hotel on our second evening, after a fascinating day in Procida and Ischia. After nibbling at unsweetened lemon slices by way of canapés, we were advised by head waiter Marco to try a lemon salad as Antipasto, with fresh mint garnish. These lemons were amazingly sweet and the salad very refreshing. This was followed by seafood linguine (Sue) or seafood risotto (Geoff), both containing an abundance of mussels, squid and scallops and garnished with large prawns. With this we sampled a real local white wine: ‘Levante’, combining Biancollella and Fallanghina grapes grown on Procida (both varieties are special to Campania, the region containing the Bay of Naples). This quaffable medium dry wine has a mild citrus flavour with a touch of white chocolate.
La Suite is more than a comfortable and attractive hotel – it also has an atmospheric Spa in the basement, beautifully constructed from lava stone and including a sauna, steam room, jacuzzi, shower with aromatherapy, ice fountain, and a relaxation area where you can taste a variety of teas and infusions. Although, as perhaps expected for such luxury, it is not cheap.
The hotel proved to be an excellent base for investigating Procida and Ischia, and a good tranquil alternative to staying in Naples, for wider exploration of the area. Please read my Procida review for details of our activities. Although steps lead from the reception area to the pool level, the hotel does make arrangements for those limited mobility. We are extremely grateful to the hotel staff: to Rose in the café bar; to Alfonso the chef; and especially to Marco as maître d’ and to Michela and Chiara on reception, for their friendly welcome and for making our short stay in La Suite so enjoyable and memorable.
La Suite Hotel & Spa
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