Monica Khemsurov

Hotel Il Pellicano
  • Where:Porto Ercole, Italy
  • Why:A vacation from my vacation (a two-month artist’s residency at the Villa Lena, two hours north).
  • When:September 2016
  • Who:Me, my best friend, and the Villa Lena’s hotel manager, an Il Pellicano fanatic.
Get a

The hotel’s entrance - reached after driving down a windy road towards the coast and passing through a big security gate - features a neon sign installed to mark its 50th anniversary in 2015.

Pelican-themed art abounds in the hotel lobby, originally designed by owners Michael and Patricia Graham but updated in 2006 by current creative director Marie-Louise Sciò.

Just behind the lobby is the main hotel bar, where having fancy aperitivo before dinner is a must. Ours included hamachi crudo shots and other gourmet bites.

Pellicano’s heated saltwater pool is a great way to waste an afternoon, but an even better place to go night swimming. We spent all day down at the beach then came back to the pool after dinner, when it felt like a giant bathtub.

Ok, it’s not exactly a “beach,” more a tiered platform cut into the cliff that you reach via an elevator down from the pool. But swimming there was perfect - crystal-clear, crisp water and fruit granitas passed out every afternoon (which our server amusingly referred to as “Slushees”).

Wherever you spend the day, definitely spend it sampling the hotel’s elaborate juice menu (“Sleeping Beauty”: apple, black cherry, poppy flower, chamomile). We never asked the bartenders to add booze, but I’m guessing they would have obliged.

We all snagged Pellicano tote bags in the boutique so we could show them off post-vacation - the hotel’s hip branding was done by Sciò.

My friend Kristin (left) and I wore jewelry to the beach each day to channel the chicness of the hotel’s legendary clientele, though during our stay our fellow guests were mostly plainly dressed, middle-aged Americans and Brits.

The décor in our bedroom was also relatively unadventurous…

…But the bathroom totally made up for it. We were swooning over the floor tiles, and my two friends took turns indulging in hourlong baths.

The little private balcony off our bedroom was pretty special, too.

The pool bar also serves aperitivo each evening, but a more traditional kind, with heaping plates of olives, crackers, potato chips, etc. We could have easily snacked all night and skipped dinner.

None of us could resist a spin through the colorful hotel boutique, even though the Victoria Beckham dresses and Olympia Le-Tan bags cost almost twice as much as our €750-per-night room. It did have some more accessible pieces, like Outdoor Voices x APC workout clothes, and the tote bags were only €18.

Also for sale were two recent books about Il Pellicano, one (top) with new and archival images of the hotel shot by Slim Aarons, John Swope, and Jurgen Teller, and the other documenting in-house chef Antonio Guida’s inventive cuisine, also shot by Teller.

Not an easy place to say goodbye to. We could have stayed another week.

Highs & Lows

  • It’s a haven for relaxation — no kids, no overly persistent servers, no loud music.

  • Swimming in the pool (so warm!) and the ocean (so clear!) - with bonus points for pool rafts available seaside.

  • Very sleepy vibes at night, though we were there Sunday to Tuesday.

  • The non-persistent pool/beach servers were a blessing, until we wanted to order lunch - then we often had to hunt someone down.

The Barometer

  • Design

  • Website

  • Environmental Consciousness

  • Night's Sleep

  • Service

  • Amenities

  • Takeable Treats

  • Refer a Friend

  • Overall Value

  • Life Changing

Total: 43/50

Important Bits

  • Type

    Luxury hotel

  • Vibe

    Seclusion and relaxation, plus the glamour of its history as a retreat for the rich and famous.

  • Location

    Tucked into a cozy, isolated pocket of the Italian coastline.

  • Rooms


  • Music

    Quiet, with amusingly incongruous ’80s music by the pool that occasionally dipped a toe in hair metal.

  • Year Opened


  • Designed By

    : Original owners Michael and Patricia Graham, then redesigned in 2006 by Marie-Louise Sciò, creative director and daughter of the current owners.

  • Pool/Gym

    Gym, spa, and a warm, mineralized swimming pool overlooking the ocean that feels like a return to the womb.

  • Restaurant

    A Michelin-starred restaurant that, by day, hosts an epic breakfast spread - plus a more casual lunchtime grill.

  • Bar

    A hotel bar plus a pool bar.

  • Minibar

    The artisanal sodas, potato chips, and chocolate bars in the mini bar are all free, which can help dampen your appetite for the €27 poolside sandwiches.

  • Children

    No children under 12.

  • Price

    Very expensive.

In the lobby bar.


Località Sbarcatello, 58019 Porto Ercole GR, Italy

In the lobby bar.

Try the chocolate sorbet at Le Logge Gelateria in nearby Orbetello.

Indulge in sorbet

Corso Italia, 78, 58015 Orbetello GR, Italy

Try the chocolate sorbet at Le Logge Gelateria in nearby Orbetello.

From Porto Ercole to Forte Stella.

Go for a scenic hike

Porto Ercole, Italy

From Porto Ercole to Forte Stella.

Hotel Il Pellicano

Località Sbarcatello, 58019 Porto Ercole GR, Italy

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