By Sara Clemence
July 08, 2020
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Courtesy of Hotel Caesar Augustus

This year’s World’s Best Awards survey closed on Mar. 2, just before widespread stay-at-home orders were implemented as a result of COVID-19. The results reflect our readers’ experiences before the pandemic, but we hope that this year’s honorees will inspire your trips to come — whenever they may be.

Italy is known for its world-class food and fashion, ancient architecture and gorgeous cars. One lesser-known triumph: keeping hospitality in the family.

Take the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, an opulent resort on the shores of Lake Como. It was built in the 1850s as a gift for Countess Frizzoni of Bergamo. After World War I, the Bucher family bought what had by then become the Grand Hotel Bellagio. Over the decades, notable guests have come and gone — from Winston Churchill to Al Pacino. Through it all, the Bucher family has stayed. Now its fourth generation of owners keep watch over the Murano chandeliers and private beach, the lush gardens and the starched sheets — all the details that helped the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni rank seventh among resort hotels in Italy. “I remember waking up to take a photo of the room with the windows open and moon shining on the lake and illuminating the curtains,” wrote one reader. “The service was outstanding; the location was exceptional; and it was without a doubt the best night's sleep I have had as far back as I can remember.”

Every year for our World’s Best Awards survey, T+L invites its readers to share their opinions on the top hotels, resorts, cities, islands, cruise ships, spas, airlines, and more. Resort hotels were rated on their facilities, location, service, food, and overall value. Properties were classified as city or resort based on their locations and amenities.

The Serbelloni is far from alone in this heritage.  The graceful Le Sireneuse (No. 8) on the Amalfi Coast is also family-owned, as are the nearby Hotel Santa Caterina (No. 5) and several more of the top resorts.

The very best properties in Italy share a few other commonalities. Three of the 10 have Michelin-starred restaurants. And though the hotels are spread across several regions of Italy, from the sheer cliffs of Capri to the vineyard-strewn hills of Tuscany, four are on the Amalfi Coast. That’s not surprising, given that the Costiera Amalfitana is considered one of the most gorgeous shorelines in Italy, and arguably the world. On a peninsula that juts into the sea like a spike from the front of Italy’s boot, it has sherbet-hued towns, terraced gardens, dramatic views, and perfumed lemon groves. Amalfi has long been a retreat for discerning travelers, and is a place where Italy’s instincts for la dolce vita are on full display.

The grand hotels dotted along the coast bring together refinement and relaxation. They have alfresco restaurants serving the freshest seafood and beach clubs lined with rows of striped lounge chairs. Floor-to-ceiling windows open onto private terraces and catch sea breezes. But the quality that set this year’s winners above all the rest? Staff members who provide polished service with a smile and make you feel like part of the family, too.

Read on for the full list of the best resorts in Italy.

1. Hotel Caesar Augustus

Courtesy of Hotel Caesar Augustus

Score: 96.87

More information: caesar-augustus.com

Perched on a cliff almost 1,000 feet above the Gulf of Naples, the Hotel Caesar Augustus was once the villa of a Russan prince. Today, it’s a family-run five-star hotel with some of Capri’s most memorable views. “The owner greeted us upon check-in and wanted us to feel at home at his hotel,” wrote one reader of the family’s hospitality, adding that “the views from the room and overall grounds are amazing!” The hotel has 55 individually decorated rooms and suites, many with private balconies that feel like they extend into the sky. The bilevel infinity pool blends into the sea, the two-acre garden supplies most of the restaurant’s produce, and the hotel has a private area at the Bagni Tiberio beach club. The care in every aspect registers with guests, as one reader noted: “the attention to detail is wonderful.”

2. Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

Courtesy of Grand Hotel Excelsior Vittoria

Score: 96.08

More information: exvitt.it

3. Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Courtesy of Grand Hotel Tremezzo

Score: 95.76

More information: grandhoteltremezzo.com

4. Il San Pietro di Positano

Courtesy of Il San Pietro di Positano

Score: 95.50

More information: ilsanpietro.it

5. Hotel Santa Caterina

Courtesy of Hotel Santa Caterina

Score: 95.38

More information: hotelsantacaterina.it

6. Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea

Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 94.59

More information: belmond.com

7. Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

Courtesy of Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

Score: 94.11

More information: villaserbelloni.com

8. Le Sirenuse

Courtesy of Le Sirenuse

Score: 94.08

More information: sirenuse.it

9. Borgo Egnazia

Courtesy of Borgo Egnazia

Score: 93.80

More information: borgoegnazia.com

10. Belmond Castello di Casole

Courtesy of Belmond

Score: 93.71

More information: belmond.com

See all of our readers' favorite hotels, cities, airlines, cruise lines, and more in the World's Best Awards for 2020.