Castel Monastero, Castelnuovo Berardenga
Tel: 39 0577 570001
Concierge.com's insider take:
The latest Italian hilltop hamlet to morph into a luxury hotel, Castel Monastero serves up a perfectly curated version of the Tuscan lifestyle, right down to its stylish but safe contemporary-country interior design. Those who know and love the real Tuscany might find the 76-room village-hotel a little airbrushed, but there's no denying that the setting—in the wild Ombrone valley on the edge of the Chianti Classico wine zone—is spectacular, and the restoration of this fortified abbey turned wine estate can hardly be faulted. The appointment of British chef Gordon Ramsay as culinary consultant generated media mileage, but it's head chef Alessandro Delfanti who is in the kitchen turning out tasty, conservative variations on Tuscan tradition. The views back across to the village-hotel from the terraced infinity pools are sublime, and the spa by Urban Retreat—proprietors of the day spa at Harrods in London—offers an impressive range of beauty and revitalizing treatments with highfalutin names like Diamond Sublime. The bedrooms in the central castle buildings are soberly elegant, with wooden wainscoting, Chesterfield sofas, Rubelli silk curtains, exposed overhead beams, and a color palette of creamy magnolia and dark cocoa. Be warned, the rooms can be a little gloomy; this was originally a medieval monastery, and windows, where they exist, are generally small. Rooms and suites in the outlying properties, including a self-contained butler-serviced villa, tend to be more spacious, bright, and airy. The good-size bathrooms are lined in dark volcanic stone and feature rain-head showers; many also have tubs. Unlike many Tuscan luxury retreats, Castel Monastero has opted for a flexible pricing policy that (at least by current Italian standards) is almost reasonable for a luxury resort. When demand is low, classic doubles start around $560 per night, including breakfast.—Lee Marshall
From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:Nestled into the hills of Monastero d'Ombrone, 15 miles east of Siena, Castel Monastero is set in a storybook eleventh-century hamlet with a circular piazza and stone tower. The reconstructed outer ring of the village houses the resort's 76 guest rooms, while a spectacularly vaulted thirteenth-century cellar serves as an enoteca and wine storage. Rooms are sizable, designed true to their Tuscan roots, with painted old-wood beams, comfortable leather sofas, terra-cotta floors, and views into the valley (the little living room as you enter, however, seems a bit of a wasted space). The resort's interlocking pools, on the other hand, fit ingeniously into the landscape, looking out onto the area's postcard-perfect views. But although the resort makes a good base for sightseeing in Siena and the towns of southern Tuscany and Chianti, and the helpful staff are well versed on the culinary attractions of the region, it is a shame that thus far the on-site Gordon Ramsey restaurant is such an overpriced disappointment. Instead of being the hotel's centerpiece, the restaurant feels like a vanity project without the chef's attention (Ramsay is there only a few times a year), with dishes like risotto with green apple and dishes with imported lobster that are anything but local.2010 Hot List
Which room to book: Get one facing the gorgeous Ombrone Valley rather than a courtyard option, which can be noisy when there is summer dining down below.