Antica Locanda Lunetta

Mandas, Sardinia, Italy Book from Eur80

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Gorgeous B&B in a small country town, with beautiful hills to explore and Cagliari and its beaches less than an hour by car
Your prize for swapping the coast for the interior is this flawless rural B&B, a small-scale pleasure dome that must qualify as one of the loveliest places to stay on the island. It’s a little like having your own personal Kit Kemp hotel and proof positive that small is beautiful. However, it’s not just the house (stunning) or the price (a steal) that makes it so special. Barbara and Gianluca bought Lunetta in 2004 and spent 6 years renovating before opening in 2010. They are the kindest people and go out of their way to make your stay here special.

As for their heavenly retreat, you step through the old arched gate (this was once a coaching inn) to find a colourful courtyard with fairy lights in the lemon tree. Inside, stone walls soar in the airy sitting room, where fat sofas wait and an open fire smoulders in the unlikely event the weather turns. There’s a smart dining room where you eat sinful breakfasts (our best on Sardinia), then a snug with beautiful armchairs and a computer guests can use. Five indulging rooms come with high ceilings, warm colours, polished wood floors and the odd chandelier: new-world comforts, old-world charm. There are hills to climb, horses to ride, lakes to swim in and the extraordinary ruins of Su Nuraxi to explore. Don’t come for just 1 night - you’ll wish you’d stayed longer.

Highs

  • The house and its delicious design - there are no false notes
  • The cute courtyard; perfect for a glass of wine before you stroll out to find dinner
  • The breakfast - cake stands overflow with irresistible treats. You can use the small kitchen throughout the day to chill drinks or prepare a plate of local cheeses, then decant into the courtyard
  • Sardinia's interior - its vineyards and hill-top villages, its wild horses and Nuraghic ruins
  • Barbara and Gianluca - you couldn’t fall into better hands

Lows

  • Mandas isn’t the most beautiful of places, though the Old Town hasn’t lost its looks
  • You’re out in the country - you’ll need a car if you want to explore
  • A couple of the area's best restaurants are in neighbouring villages, so you may need to drive to dinner
  • No twin rooms
  • The mountain road over to the east coast is slow, but the scenery is stunning

Best time to go

The B&B is closed annually from November to February. Summers are very hot here, so walkers will want to come earlier or later in the year, as will bird watchers who want to drop down to Cagliari’s lagoons.

Trenino Verde, the famous old steam engine that hops over the mountains on its way to the east coast, runs from mid-June to early September. You can take the train or the bus up from Cagliari, so you don’t need a car and can travel 1 way (for this journey, although we'd recommend you hire a car for your holiday).

Our top tips

  • The road over to Seui and on to Tartoli on the east coast is pretty special, a rollercoaster ride over the mountains of the interior. The scenery is spectacular with river valleys, forested hills and hairpin bends by the dozen. The best way to make the journey in either direction is to buy a picnic and make a day of it - you’ll find no end of beautiful spots to stop and eat your fresh goat's cheese and mountain salamis. There’ll be signs off to interesting archaeological sites, and Seui itself has a small museum that’s worth visiting. Do remember to fill up with petrol before you set off. It’s not that the country towns don’t have fuel stations, but they do sometimes close for 3 hours over lunch and if you need a top-up you might not want to wait
  • If you check out the B&B on Google street view, be assured Google visited during renovation - the house really is now divine!
  • Great for...

    Cheap & Chic
    Eco
    Family
    Honeymoon
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique B&B
    • 3
    • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
    • All ages welcome
    • Closed: 1 Nov 2015 - 31 Mar 2016
    • Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Shared kitchen
    Room:

    Rooms

    A chic rustic style waits - nicely uncluttered, easy on the eye. During renovation the rooms were stripped back to their bare essentials, keeping them true to their old roots. Then vibrant colours and elegant materials were added, leaving little need for further embellishment. It’s all utterly lovely. You find wooden ceilings, beautiful beds, shuttered windows and smart fabrics. One room overlooks the courtyard and has a small chandelier, another has a well-upholstered armchair. Two stand at the top of the same staircase, so are good for families or friends. All have lovely big wardrobes, atmospheric lighting, crisp linen and flowers everywhere. Also: flat-screen TVs, air conditioning, and power showers in compact bathrooms where gilded mirrors hang above the basin.

    Across the courtyard 2 Suites have been added since our visit. They are a little bigger and a little further from the small lane that runs to the front of the house, therefore nice and quiet, though the lane itself is much ignored and only the occasional scooter zooming past will remind you it's there. If the rooms in the main house are anything to go by, these will be absolutely lovely, but reports gratefully received.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Honesty bar
    • Tv
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    Breakfast will defeat the best intentions of dedicated weightwatchers. You eat in the dining room - golden stone walls, a pale blue wooden ceiling, fresh flowers all over the place. You’ll find bowls of rolls, fruit salad, jugs of juice and an array of cakes and pastries that will make you think you’ve woken up in a patisserie. There’s tea and coffee, too.

    Guests can use a small kitchen off the sitting room to make tea and coffee during the day, perhaps even prepare light snacks - plates of cheese and ham, fresh bread, a glass of chilled wine. There are tables and chairs in the courtyard so you can eat in the sun. At night, if you don’t want to eat out, you can bring home a pizza and grab a drink from the honesty bar.

    My Dream, the pizzeria, isn’t far either - 150m from the front door. It offers a good pizza and, like most pizzerias on Sardinia, it's cheap. Chiocceiola, on the edge of the park, serves local meat and good pasta; then in September and October, as its name suggests, it serves the odd snail. A few hundred metres south of the Old Town off a dusty road that leads into the country, there’s a good table at the best agriturismo in the area (Le Vigne Ducali), where you eat your host’s meat and vegetables and wash it all down with his wine - food metres, not food miles. Finally, 10km away in Siurgus Donigala you’ll find Il Vicoletto (the little street), where you eat fabulous traditional fare in tapas style, giving you the chance to taste lots of local delicacies. Ask the owners for directions.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Cooking classes
    • Restaurants nearby
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Take a cooking class at Le Vigne Ducali , a fabulous agriturismo. You'll learn typical hand-made Sardinian dishes, eg ravioli with ricotta

    • Spin east 15km to Barúmini and the World Heritage site of Su Nuraxi, the finest and most complete Nuraghic settlement on the island. Built on a hill, it dates to 1500BC and gives big views across the plains

    • Back in Mandas, check out the Old Town’s museums: the Ethnographic Museum, where you step back in time, and the Museum of the Sacred Heart with its glittering array of silver. There are 2 pretty churches and Roman ruins below the monastery colonnade

    • If you like DH Lawrence, head up to the station, where he stayed when travelling through the interior - incredibly, his host was Barbara’s great grandfather. His book, Sea and Sardinia, recounts his trip and makes a good companion

    • Ride the Trenino Verde, an old steam train that chugs over the mountains on its way to the east coast. It takes 5 hours to travel 160km and you’ll need an overnight stop at the other end. It does, however, carve its way through the most spectacular scenery

    • Head north into the Trexenta hills - this fertile land has been Sardinia’s bread basket for millennia. You might spot wild horses on the plateau and if you want to ride there are stables, too. Lakes are dotted about, so take a picnic and go for a swim

    • Visit Cagliari - a mere 45 minutes by car - not least for its 10km beach, handy in a city! Fine churches, delicious restaurants, Roman ruins and underground Phoenician chambers all wait. The National Archaeological Museum is a must

    • Walk alongside the lakes, marshlands and ancient salt flats that circle Cagliari and draw in a large cast of migratory birds. Over 170 species pass through each year, including pink flamingos by the thousand from August to March

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cooking classes
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Museums / galleries
    • Swimming

    Kids

    Children are very welcome and cots and extra beds can be provided, but this is a small B&B in a country town and apart from the computer and some DVDs in the snug, there’s not much for kids to do here.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    All rooms can fit a baby cot, and 2 rooms can fit an extra bed (additional charge for either).

    Kid Friendly:

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