KAREN BROWN'S italy
In recent years Naples has launched a badly-needed clean-up campaign for its neighborhoods and monuments. Although there certainly has been improvement, it remains a litter-strewn and chaotic yet ultimately fascinating metropolis. Your best bet for safety and easy access to sights is to stay in the city center and the Chiaja is an excellent choice within a slim selection of charming hotels. Close to the San Carlo Theater and the main shopping street of Via Toledo, the pedestrian-only Via Chiajia is lined with shops and restaurants. Entering through an inner courtyard, the hotel's entrance is one flight up where an inviting reception area and living room greet guests. The sun-colored breakfast room is just off this main area and 27 rooms of various sizes are found down a hall which wraps around the courtyard on this same floor as well as an additional six rooms on the floor above. A former residence of a noble family, the new owners strived to maintain the same ambience even though they completely renovated it with updated amenities. Each room has original turn-of-the-last-century antique pieces and different tones in the matching bedspreads and draperies, tiled or parquet floors and floral wallpaper. Sparkling new bathrooms have an occasional hydrojet tub. A friendly and efficient staff await guests and assist with city itineraries or logistics to the islands of Capri, Ischia or Procida. Directions: The hotel is just off the Piazza del Plebiscito.