Savelletri di Fasano
Tel: 39 080 225 5000
Despite a late start in tourism, Puglia has jumped ahead of other regions in Italy with its abundance of stylish hotels, yet even in this high-design market, Borgo Egnazia stands out. Unlike many of its masserie (traditional Puglian farmhouses) counterparts, the hotel is newly built in the traditional style, a large compound surrounded by stone-walled fields of ancient olive trees. An enclosed courtyard leads into a lofty, domed hallway filled with hanging lanterns, while fireplaces set into the white stone flicker throughout the public spaces. The 63 comfortable guest rooms have white stone walls and canopy beds, and each comes with a terrace looking onto the sea, the hills, or two huge pools flanked by double-size daybeds. The spa has a heated indoor pool, and the 18-hole golf course next door, the San Domenico, is one of the area's main attractions (this, combined with a terrific children's club, is a welcome combination for families).
33 Contrada Sant'Angelo
Tel: 39 080 439 5757
Built by the Knights of Malta in the 15th century and now owned by a family of olive oil producers, this good-value masseria's dozen rooms (mostly suites) are worthy of any shelter mag. The shapely stone arches are not always whitewashed (sometimes they're plum- or tan-washed), and witty details abound: a woolly mini sheep on a stone shelf; a black-sheeted bed on an ocher-daubed stone platform; a stack of twigs propped against a wall; table lights fashioned from terra-cotta amphorae; swaths of organza drapes. Still, there are enough cast-iron granny bedsteads, antique walnut armoires, and wood-framed mirrors to keep things easily this side of whimsy. Rooms have no TVs, but they do have air-conditioning and minibars. An outdoor whirlpool bath has been placed in the middle of an ancient walled garden of mandarin oranges, and the landscaped pool is surrounded by canopied day beds for serious recharging of the mind and body. There's a charming bar area, and a simple dinner based on local specialties is served here for guests Monday through Saturdaya boon in view of the remote location.
Closed November until the week before Easter.
Marittima di Diso
Tel: 44 7736 362 328
Greek-born Athena McAlpine and her husband, Lord Alistair, the (very) British Conservative Party treasurer during the Thatcher era, made a highly unpredictable career choice in 2003 by opening this extraordinary haute bed-and-breakfast in a 15th-century convent half an hour south of Lecce. It is like no other B&B you'll ever encounter. If you score one of the nine rooms, you'll gain access not only to the entire propertyno room is off-limitsbut also to Lord McAlpine's museum of a collection, focusing on textiles and primitive and folk art from multiple sources (Australian Aboriginal, West African, Indonesian, Indian, Panamanian, you name it). And you can take "museum" literally, since much of this is rare as dodo eggs. Pieces are strewn liberally and artfully around the place according to Athena's artistic eye. One room contains another McAlpine collection: the library, with 14 tons of books. Included in the rates are breakfast, laundry service, and superb Euro-modern (as opposed to Puglian) lunches, garnished with the fruit of yet another McAlpine collection: the wine cellar. Some of the beds could sleep a family of six, yet all are made up in precious linens from Lecce; a few volumes are thoughtfully piled on the night table. Despite its well-connected hosts, this haven is emphatically not for wired peoplethere are no TVs, phones, or newspapers, and definitely no WiFi.
345 Contrada Torricella
Tel: 39 80 690 9030
The pioneer of all today's posh masserie, this great village of a 17th-century Magna Graecia-looking fortified farmhouse, opened way before Puglia got hip: in 1987. Though it has kept many fans, others prefer its sexier, fresher neighborsand they will continue to do so until the 31 rooms get an overdue freshening. Not that they're unpleasant. Just staid and bourgeois, with their clashing chintzes and brocades and tapestry and the ornate, gilt-edged Victoriana kind of antique that is not in fashion. Then again, fusty decorating has a kind of charm, and the rooms are relative bargains considering the facilities: There's a big saltwater pool and a beach club four miles away (by free shuttle) called La Peschiera, with a fish restaurant installed on the remains of a 17th-century fishery. There's also Il Peschereccio, a refurbished traditional fishing boat for coastal forays and a famous cooking school (four times a year) led by gifted British expat Diane Seed. Breakfasts in the restaurant are gargantuan; dinners expensive, but good. There is one thing missing though, something rarely glimpsed in the '80s, but compulsory today...a spa.
7 Via Scipione Petrarolo
Tel: 39 083 130 5925
Puglia's ultimate design hotel, La Sommità Relais Culti, is one of those places that require a certain effortunless you are a Milanese model or a fashion mag editor, in which case it's a real home away from home. Opened in 2003, this ten-suite inn is a showcase for the holistic lifestyle brand created by "project of the senses" guru Alessandro Agrati. Just about everything you see here is Culti, from the tableware in the elegantly minimalist restaurant to the crisp cotton bed linen, from the Mareminerale products used in the Relais' underground spa to the oversize armchairs that dominate the first-floor lounge. But the branding is discreet, and the setting makes up for the occasional product push. The Relais is carved out of a once-grand aristocratic town house that stands at the highest point of Ostunithe famous cittá bianca (white town) of Puglia. Sensitively restored, the palazzo's rough sandstone ceiling vaults play off against the smooth lines of the Culti furnishings and bathroom fittings. Best of all is the walled orange garden outsideits 40-year-old trees provide the fruit for the Relais' breakfast marmalade. Steps lead up from here to a series of balconies with views over the roofs of the old town to the distant sea: a perfect place for evening aperitivi. The service may appear frosty after all that Puglian warmth outside, but pretend that this is Milan rather than Ostuni and it will seem positively effusive.
379 Strada Litoranea
Savelletri Di Fasano
Tel: 39 080 482 7769
Without a doubt the most polished of all the masseria hotels is the huge 15th-century San Domenico, surrounded by olive groves on the coast near Fasano and already into its second decade. Every corner of every acre is manicured like a Park Avenue princess: from the large, free-form saltwater swimming pool, bordered with oiled Romans in La Perla bikinis and floodlit at night, to the majestic Thalassotherapy-La Prairie spa with its skylit, galleried pool and special treatments using estate olive oil. There's also a triple-groomed 18-hole golf coursenow with its own separate 15-room luxury guesthouse, the Masseria Cimino. The 50 rooms at the San Domenico are done up in bobble-trim brocades and bed curtains, with polished walnut upholstered chairsall very bourgeois and comforting. The junior suites include patios. Of the two restaurants, only the posh-Puglian San Domenico is open for dinner; the Pool Grill just does a buffet lunch.
Closed second week in January until Easter.
8 Contrada Coccaro
Savelletri Di Fasano
Tel: 39 080 482 9310
A resort hotel with a real sense of rustic-elegant style was carved out of this 16th-century farmhouse in 2002. Here you'll find slipcovered or button-backed armchairs and wrought-iron chandeliers, shapely wooden commodes and armoires painted in dusty blue, eggplant- or black-stained smooth stone floors, and linen sheets. Two of the 39 rooms are installed in ancient caves (one with its own private orchard and plunge pool); other accommodations are in the tower. When the lakelike swimming pool palls, catch the free shuttle to nearby Torre Coccaro Beach Club, a private white-sand stretch with a Balinese feel, where you'll find wooden lounge chairs; straw palapas; drink, snack, and towel service; a sushi and oyster bar; and a fish restaurant, plus a boat at your disposal, with a skipper who will take you fishing or cook your lunch while you swim in some secluded cove. Another shuttle plies the golf-course route. Back home, you can take cooking lessons from a pair of formidable local housewives, have an agave facial in the Aveda spa, or play cave billiards (the baize table has been set up in a room of the underground olive press). And as you would expect, the restaurant is also molto bene, grazie.
Savalletri di Fasano
Tel: 39 080 482 7838
Surrounded by ancient olive trees and an immaculate nine-hole golf course, this 28-room sister property to the fabulous Masseria Torre Coccaro in Puglia serves up a dash of urban style against the prevailing local rusticity. A fifteenth-century masseria (fortified manor house) is the centerpiece, and the star-vaulted, window-walled bar and restaurant overlook a stunning solar-heated pool and a wooden deck. There's an Aveda Spa on the premises, and the hotel also offers guests a private beach club with a sushi bar on the Adriatic Sea. Every room has a small garden, and the stone floors, vaulted ceilings, and handwoven wool rugs say country, while framed black-and-white photos of Puglia, dark-stained furniture, and armchairs upholstered in white cotton chintz give rooms an edginess that appeals to hip Italian weekenders.
13 Piazzetta Riccardi
Tel: 39 0832 245 111
Starwood, bless its corporate vastness, hasn't ruined this 17th-century palace, though a little bit of soul was lost in the renovation. Still, the 67 rooms, with their shades-of-blue decor and faux-antique TV armoires, are the best in town (especially the second-floor front ones with the little balconies), and the efficient service hits the spot. The Patria Palace is also in a great position, right opposite the Basilica of Santa Croce, and the valet parking means you can leave the car and explore Lecce's Baroque splendors on foot. Atenze, the restaurant, attracts plenty of custom from outside the hotel.
3 Corte Palmieri
Tel: 39 083 326 5318
Discovered long ago by northern Italian tourists but still relatively unknown outside the country, historic Gallipoli is one of southern Puglia's most characterful seaside towns. The old part is clustered on a promontory that juts out into the Bay of Taranto, and somewhere in its maze of narrow lanes (check the map on the hotel Web site) stands this 20-room boutique hotel, recently converted from an 18th-century town house. It's an enjoyable warren of a place, with stairs and passageways leading to terraces on different levels. Rooms are whitewashed, but the starkness is lifted by splashes of color: bedcovers with vigorous vermilion borders, or wardrobes jazzed up with stenciled coral motifs. Breakfasta fairly simple affair, with fresh fruit, brioche, fruit juice, and marmaladeis served on a panoramic terrace, which also functions as an aperitivo bar. The chic-antique Palazzo Mosco Inn, a sister hotel less than a five-minute walk away, is also worth a lookthough for our money, Corte Palmieri takes the charm prize.
Via Taranto Zona G 59
Tel: 39 80 485 7719
Master restorer Martino Solíto reconstructed this nineteenth-century farmhouse on the outskirts of the medieval/Baroque town of Martina Franca using only original materials and furnishing it with local antiques and Louis XVIstyle pieces made by skilled artisans. The stunning result is a pink-and-white terra-cotta villa of 18 rooms and five suites swathed in silks and damasks in blue, gold, green, and rose custom-made at San Léucio, the silkworks established by the Bourbon kings in the eighteenth century. Flat-screen TVs, DVD players, and Internet access add a technological touch to the period elegance. In the basement, the Moroccan-influenced spa includes a gym with a sauna and a steam room.
Via Monte Nero, 15
Tel: 39 80 432 3860
Tel: 329 266 1549 (cell)
In 1997, Dino and Antonella Guido got the notion that foreigners might like to actually sleep inside the trulli they admired, so they renovated 25 of them. All in the trulli capital Alberobello, the circular, conical-roofed, thick-walled houselets are everything you'd expectsimple, cozy, unique. The Web site is more usable in Italian, given the translation job. Extras, for example, include "webbing to the ancient chassis." Trullidea can arrange airport transfer in their appropriately sized mini-mini-compact SmartCar.