What's On travel guide: Capri, Italy

Your summer holiday all planned out to this long-treasured island…

A long-revered island treasure, the rich and famous have been flocking to Capri since the 1950s. But there’s two sides to this island, each with their own allure. In sleepier Anacapri comes the opportunity to bask in the natural beauty, enjoy strolls in the charming villages, and embrace quiet luxury at one of the island’s grand dame hotels. In Capri Town, visitors pack the town to snap up pieces at the fashionable boutiques, dine at the storied restaurants, and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Marina Grande.


The hero stay: Jumeirah Capri Palace

If a hotel were to personify its destination, few do it better than Jumeirah Capri Palace. A winding path of perfectly landscaped gardens, dotted with swaying palms and pretty purple bougainvillea leads you up from Piazza Vittoria (Anacapri’s main square) to the distinct façade of Jumeirah Capri Palace. Dubbed the white museum, it’s gloriously grand but in an understated way, its vast columns and whitewashed welcome spaces flood with natural light, dotted with bold artworks and lavish floral displays that are glamorous but not gaudy. The guest welcome is enthusiastic and genuine, and it’s impossible to decline a welcome glass of homemade lemonade as you’re taken on a tour of the property by the smiling reception team.

The lush, tropical feel continues out to the sea-facing garden, where burnt orange loungers surround the temperature-controlled swimming pool, its floor tiled in shades of turquoise and aquamarine, laced with shimmering mother of pearl, the work of Italian artist Velasco Vitali. It’s also ever-present at the Capri Medical Spa, the hotel’s unique wellbeing space that has become a renowned destination in Capri in its own right. The home of the hotel’s patented ‘Leg School’ treatment (Dhs750), developed over 25 years by the late Professor Francesco Canonaco, it’s a multi-step treatment designed to oxygenate leg tissue and improve circulation, as well as offering a whole host of other health benefits. It starts with the application of a clay mud from volcanic Ischia, infused with 26 medical plants, followed by being wrapped in cold leg bandages. To finish, you’ll walk ten times briskly through a hot water channel (set at 38°C), then patiently stroll through an 18°C cold channel.

The culinary offering is a fusion of the old and new. The rooftop has been transformed into a chic Japanese izakaya, with the influence of global powerhouse Zuma drawing guests from across the island. But the culinary jewel in the crown remains L’Olivo, the island’s only 2 Michelin Star restaurant. Dining here feels like starring in your own Hollywood movie, thanks to the sorbet-hued sunset, expert staff suited up in crisp white linens, and the sounds of melodic piano renditions of Hallejujah, Imagine, and Sway. Guests embark on multi-course tasting menus that include dishes like a delicate cube of tuna belly with jalapeno and buffalo yoghurt, a tender lamb loin with ginger scented sweetbread, and impossibly light chocolate souffle.

Then there’s the 68 guest rooms, each a sanctuary of contemporary island-inspired luxury and all coming with either sea or garden views. The hotel’s storied history – dating back some 60 years – is proudly played out in black and white photographs from the island’s yesteryear across the walls, and handmade ceramic tiles in patterns of white and blue ooze that quintessential southern Italian aesthetic. Guests wrap up in fluffy Frette robes, and a sunken tub under the window that faces out towards the Bay of Naples of our sea-facing Executive Suite is a befittingly regal addition to the tranquil and luxurious space.

Room rates from Dhs4,821. @jumeirahcapripalace

Eat: Zuma

A splashy restaurant that needs no introduction, Zuma added Capri to its collection of summer pop-ups last year. Taking over the third-floor rooftop of Jumeirah Capri Palace, it’s got all the classic ingredients of the brand: an open kitchen with sushi counter, lively beats, and a masterful menu of modern Japanese dishes. But this Zuma is a little more laidback than most, befitting of its tranquil location, making it a beautiful spot for a sunset dinner.


Play: Il Riccio

The famed Il Riccio beach club and restaurant has provided delightful Instagram fodder since its collaboration with Dior sent it straight to the top of every travel influencer’s bucket list. But this clifftop restaurant – set next to and above the famed Blue Grotto – doesn’t rest on the laurels of its high-fashion décor. Its refreshing drinks are best enjoyed in the lounge, peppered with day beds and bar stools that make the most of the sea views. Then there’s the nautically-inspired restaurant, in endless shades of white and blue, complete with seafood-focused dishes such as a delicate caviar-topped scallop millefeuille and a generous plate of lobster pasta, and an aptly named ‘temptation room’ with dozens of homemade desserts to sedate any sweet tooth.


See: Villa San Michele

A celebration of the life and works of the Swedish author, physician and architect Axel Munthe, Villa San Michele is now a museum, but was once the author’s beloved Capri home. In its first version it was ready in 1897 and attracted royals and creatives alike thereafter. Inside, you’ll find an impressive collection of historic Roman, Etruscan, and Egyptian artefacts that Munthe collected on his travels, while outside, lush, Mediterranean-inspired gardens come with some of the best vistas on the island. Entrance is SAR39.


Do: The Capri Chair lift

From Anacapri’s Piazza Vittoria, the charming central square, you can take a 13-minute round trip on the unique Capri chair lift, to Monte Solario, the highest point on the island. On a clear day, expect to drink in mesmerising views that stretch to neighbouring Naples, Ischia, and Sorrento. A round-trip ticket costs SAR54.

Capri Town

The hero stay: Pazziella Garden & Suites

In concentrated Capri Town, it’s easy to feel suffocated among the throngs of tourists that pack the pretty piazzas and narrow streets, but those feelings meld away when you stroll down the bougainvillea-lined entrance to Pazziella Garden & Suites. A lush oasis nestled within the beating heart of Capri Town, checking-in feels like you’ve stepped into your own secret garden.

This beautifully boutique hotel is landscaped around a temperature-controlled pool and neatly kept garden and feels like the grand home of a family friend, as much as it does a four-star stay in the glamourous town. On one side, the original building houses the bright reception, a greenhouse-style restaurant, and a lovely bar, as well as most of the original rooms. A second building, a new addition across the garden that was renovated for this season, has added a further collection of rooms, including our own private pool suite. A small lounge leads through to the bedroom, both of which are adorned smartly in navy and crisp white. The expansive terrace in warm neutral hues features a plunge pool, chairs for dining alfresco, and loungers to bask in the rays as you listen to the sounds of chirping birds, occasionally interrupted by the back-and-forth of a tennis ball on the courts just beyond the resort.

The homely feel extends from the aesthetic to the service, and a friendly team – many of whom are Capri locals – are on-hand to arrange boat trips, make restaurant recommendations, and whip up a custom-created mocktail when checking-on a particularly balmy day.

While there’s plenty of famous restaurants just a short stroll away, dining at P Garden shouldn’t be missed, where a handful of tables dot the garden terrace, and a menu of local flavours includes highlights like pacheri pasta with lobster and a tender beef fillet spiked with a hint of saffron. It’s here that guests return for breakfast, where a continental buffet of cold cuts, cheeses, freshly baked pastries and local fruits can be enjoyed alongside eggs cooked-to-order a dozen ways.

Room rates from Dhs3,893. @pazziellacapri

Eat: Paolino Capri

“Since 1960” the tagline at Paolino Capri says, a restaurant with likely as many stories to tell from its 64 years of operation as there are lemons hanging from the canopy of lemon trees that cover this pretty garden restaurant. A 10-minute drive from the Piazzetta (the main square in Capri town), it’s a lively restaurant where waiters bustle from table to table, serving up big bowls of pasta that are home made in the kitchen.


Drink: Capri Rooftop

Arguably the best bar in Capri for stunning sea views is Capri Rooftop, set on the top floor of the Hotel Luna, adjacent to the grand Gardens of Augustus. You can only reserve a week in advance during high-season, and tables by the glass-walled edge of the bar are the most coveted for watching the string of yachts sail bay the iconic Faraglioni Rocks.


Party: Taverna Anema E Core

This over-the-top live music tavern was first put on the Capri party map by the late owner, Guido Lembo. Now in the safe hands of his equally flamboyant son Gianluigi, sing-along live music sets are paired with sparkler shows, fancy dress costumes, and guests dancing on the tables with tambourines in hand. Expect to find yourself rubbing shoulders with some serious A-Listers.


Do: Gianni’s Boat Tour

There are few better ways to see the island of Capri than from the glassy turquoise water that surrounds it. With Gianni’s Boat Tours, you can hop aboard a private Gozzo (traditional boat), sipping on soft drinks as you marvel at the dramatic rocks, soaring cliffs, and colourful caves on a two-hour cruise around the island’s perimeter. Visit the famed Blue Grotto (weather permitting) or forgo the long queues for one of the less popular – but equally impressive red, white or green caves.