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La Sommitá Relais Culti, Ostuni 

7 Via Scipione Petrarolo
Italy 72017
Tel: 39 083 130 5925
view web site ›'s insider take:

Puglia's ultimate design hotel, La Sommità Relais Culti, is one of those places that require a certain effort—unless 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 Ostuni—the 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 outside—its 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.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
At the summit (hence the name) of the ancient whitewashed hill town of Ostuni, La Sommitá is a fascinating fusion of contemporary comforts and Gothic-Romanesque architecture. With only nine suites in the imposing cliff-hugging mass of cream-colored stone, the hotel makes the most of magnificent views of the Adriatic and of architectural details such as high cross-vaulted ceilings. The decor is simplicity itself: pure linen on luxurious beds warmed with white cashmere throws in winter, pillow and chair covers in white and ecru, bleached-oak furniture, and bathrooms and floors done in the same creamy stone in which the castle was built six centuries ago. Massages can be arranged in your room or in the spa that was once an olive-oil press; the hotel's car service chauffeurs guests to a private beach less than four miles away.—2005 Hot List

When to go: Puglia's mild climate makes it ideal nearly year-round.

Which room to book: No. 8, with views of the Adriatic from the terrace and the king-sized bed

Amenities: Bar/lounge, Spa, 24-hour Room Service

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