Italy: Capri: Where to Stay: Most Indulgent: J.K. Place
When J.K. Place opened in March 2007, it was immediately the talk of the island; not only was it the first luxury hotel to debut in nine years, it was also owned and designed by nonlocals (Florence-born Ori Kafri and Italian architect Michele Bönan, respectively). Situated in a mansion perched on a cliff above the Marina Grande, it was also considered by many a less desirable location than the center of Capri town. Now J.K. Place has earned international buzz, as it’s the most exciting hotel addition that the entire region has seen in decades, and with just twenty-two beautifully appointed rooms, one of the most coveted addresses to book.
Florentine mastermind Bönan also conceived J.K. Place’s namesake sister hotel in Florence and the Ferragamo hotels, including the Portrait Suites in Rome, but it is on Capri that he truly outdid himself. He created nearly all the furniture, selected the art, even mixed the colors for the walls—the results are breezy island interiors that are original, chic and truly comfortable. The ground floor of the hotel, in a hillside mansion with stunning sea views, features four handsome sitting rooms, including a library stocked with Assouline and Taschen titles, and a dining room presided over by two towering Chinese porcelain urns in the softest of eggshell blues. The rooms open onto a large teak terrace where white canvas chairs and sofas face the calm blues of the Bay of Naples.
Stylish decorative details—like ceramic and bronze busts, vintage accent pillows and the occasional chandelier—abound, but J.K. Place is not of the look-but-don’t-touch variety; rather, guests immediately feel at ease, tempted to curl up on the living room’s long white sofas and in sitting areas, which bring to mind a chic friend’s beach house (there are hints of the Hamptons and Palm Beach here, especially in the nautical-inspired color scheme). The illusion of partaking in a carefree house party is furthered by J.K. Place’s wonderful staff, most of whom seem to work around the clock. They anticipate guests’ wishes, whether it’s an aperitif or a ride to town (J.K. Place is about a five-minute drive from the piazzetta, and a free shuttle service is available twenty-four hours a day). I arrived green in the face after a particularly rough ferry crossing from Sorrento, and it took all of four minutes for a pot of hot lemon juice and a plain white dinner roll to materialize—guaranteed antidotes to nausea, as explained by Verena Fiori, J.K.Place’s gorgeous Italo-Brazilian resident manager.
The twenty-two rooms, each with a different layout and design scheme, all have balconies or terraces, and most have views of the sea. Bönan’s signature touches include four-poster beds dressed in flowing fabrics, tassel-adorned curtains and sea-inspired colors ranging from Tiffany-box turquoise to regal gray. Bathrooms are spacious and modern (the one in Room 15 even has two terry-cloth-covered armchairs and a small round table stacked with books). Most come with large showers, and some also have freestanding or sunken tubs. Those seeking privacy will love the rooms on the lower floors, like Number 9, a deluxe with a huge bathroom, whose mahogany interiors and sweeping sea views give the impression of being on a yacht. For the ultimate splurge, there are two penthouses on the top floor, which have roomy balconies.
J.K. Place has a large swimming pool, surrounded by a manicured garden, and the Amalfi coast’s only ESPA, housed in a small pavilion by the pool (it has three treatment rooms). The restaurant is excellent. The shuttle service to Capri town runs twenty-four hours a day, though sporty guests can also take the twenty-minute uphill walk from the hotel. Travelers who plan to do a lot of shopping and who want to be based in easy walking distance of the piazzetta will find J.K. Place’s Marina Grande location too far removed; those who prefer to avoid crowded town, however, will be hard-pressed to find a more stylish, relaxed setting in which to hide out. The dark balustrade staircase that leads to the guest rooms on the first floor is flanked by black-and-white photographs of past Capri visitors—Audrey Hepburn, Maria Callas and Clark Gable—all of whom would have blended right into the easy elegance of this extraordinary new property. Rooms from €500 ($788).
WHO SHOULD STAY: Stylish travelers who appreciate a modern design aesthetic and who prefer the intimate feeling of staying at a private home rather than a bustling hotel.
WHO SHOULDN’T STAY: Travelers who favor more classic Capri interiors (think colorful tiled floors and antiques). Also, visitors who want to be in the thick of the action won’t appreciate the hotel’s removed location.
ROOMS TO GET: All of the seaview rooms are beautifully appointed and a comfortable size (the smallest measures 376 square feet). For a splurge, go for one of the penthouses. For romance and privacy, ask for one on the lower floors.
Read Hollywould founder Holly Dunlap’s review of J.K. Place and suggestions on Capri.— Simone Girner 06/21/2007