Our annual summer European vacation brought us to Italy this year. My husband and I were meeting friends in Capri and wanted to do something special prior to meeting up with them – just the two of us alone. We rented a car in Milan and made our way down to the Il Pellicano in Porto Ercole with a pit stop along the way at the JK Place Florence, a wonderful hotel to stay at while in Florence.
I had heard so much about the iconic Il Pellicano for so many years. For over 50 years, since it opened as a hotel in 1965, Il Pellicano has attracted socialites, movie stars and royalty to its cliffside Tuscan resort. Inspired by the photographs of Slim Aarons, who photographed so perfectly the social scene at Il
Pellicano for 25 years, I wanted to insert myself into one of the photographs and re-capture that moment. We worked out our trip plans in Italy to make that fantasy come true.
As you pull up to Il Pellicano, you’re not really sure what to expect. On our way, we had been driving along the southern Tuscan coast in the Monte Argentario region, which is lovely yet somewhat nondescript. The nearby town of Porto Ercole is quaint yet very local. Arriving at the hotel, the entranceway meanders down a narrow steep pathway/driveway. You really have no clue just how majestic the views are going to be until you enter the hotel.
The reception area of the hotel is very understated. Red carpeting is everywhere that harks back a bit to my basement circa 1978. The immediate common areas around the reception give off an old world vibe. At the same time, there’s something about the area that hints you’ve arrived onto something special. And once you’re escorted outside onto the grounds you understand why.
The best way for me to describe Il Pellicano is that the entire time I was there I always felt like James Bond (any of those who have played him in the films) was going to pull up on a speed boat with a shaken martini in hand. This place is just beyond special. The charm and the integrity of the place it is so lauded for – which put the ‘chic’ in hotel chic – has been well preserved. This is in essence what makes it so renowned. All the while the hotel manages to infuse modern touches that makes you never want to leave. It’s just simply perfection.
I’m not sure what was better. The ridiculous views from the cliffside saltwater pool (yes, its heated!) or the beach chairs and scene down by the sea that you reach by elevator. In your lifetime, you must come to the Il Pellicano with a special someone and just experience it. You must sit down by the sea and take it all in. It’s just a magical place.
It must be noted the rooms in the main building, where we stayed, are hodge lodge in that only half are renovated and a few of the rooms we looked at felt a bit dated. On the other side, most of the 50 accommodations are incredibly spacious with modern bathrooms and showers. The Junior Sea-view Suites and the double sea-view rooms (both located in the main house) offer incredible views from their expansive private terraces. It would be a shame to come here and not have a sea-view room so make sure to request one upon booking.
A very chic boutique is on-site that offers a well-curated selection of chic beach wear. Additionally, a lovely spa is located at the Il Pelliclub, the health and beauty center where the boutique and fitness center are also located. They use these delightful products from Santa Maria Novella that feel and smell delicious. A myriad of massage, body and facial treatments are offered in four treatment rooms. While we didn’t use the small but well-equipped fitness center that much, I was pleased to see it had windows offering expansive views of the property. It irks me to no end to see so many fitness centers relegated to the basement of hotels, almost as an after-thought.
There are two restaurants on the property – Michelin-starred Il Pellicano and Il Pelligrill. The former is more formal and we far preferred the outdoor Il Pelligrill for its lighter, grilled Tuscan fare for lunch and dinner. Served on the terrace of the Il Pelican, breakfast is an endless array and selection of juices, breads, cheeses, fruits, and all things breakfast. In addition, you can order anything off the hot menu they will provide for you. An extra bonus is that breakfast is included in the price of your stay.
The guest clientele during our stay was a diverse mix of Americans (mainly low key New Yorkers), Brits, Australians, Germans, French, Italians and a few Russians. For the most part, it was a very well heeled sophisticated but low key crowd. This is not the place for loud or showy types or anyone with children (only children age 10 and over are accepted. Even so, I suggest leaving them at home). Not surprisingly, a nice but not overwhelming portion of honeymooners where there.
For three nights and three days, Il Pellicano is a place that anyone who wants to reconnect with their partner must experience once in their life. Get swept away and enjoy every minute.
Images courtesy of Romi Howard and Il Pellicano
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Hotel Il Pellicano
Your Virtuoso rate at Il Pellicano with Inviato Travel Includes:
• Upgrade on arrival, subject to availability
• Daily Buffet breakfast
• Euro 100 Spa Services credit
• Early check-in/late check-out subject to availability
Il Pellicano is closed October to April. Only children 10 or older permitted.Book This Hotel
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