Castello di Montignano

Massa Martana, Umbria, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A beautifully restored relais with 21st-century comforts, a spoiling spa and a relaxed atmosphere
Those who are weary, in body or spirit, will find glorious respite at Castello di Montignano. A grand old relais with chic interiors, it is incongruously set in a tiny village, but this is its trump card: there's no passing traffic, and the area's blissful, laid-back vibe permeates the castle's thick walls. As you wander up the double-aspect stone staircase out front, you feel you're shedding a layer of stress with each step.

If you're in need of sleep, kingsize beds swaddled in crisp white linens will soothe you. If you're in need of pampering, there's a spa with restorative waters and a range of indulgent treatments. Or if you just need some R&R, you can languish by the sunny pool and let your mind idle. In the evenings, sip chilled white wine on the panoramic roof terrace or full-bodied reds in the elegant little restaurant. The food is good so linger over 4-course dinners and allow yourself breakfast in bed the next day. A perfect antidote to stressed-out city life.

Highs

  • Beautiful interiors: original flagstone floors, restored antique furniture and bright modern detailing
  • The thermal circuit in the spa (hot and cold pools, then sauna)
  • Staff are excellent; friendly and effective
  • Surrounded by idyllic countryside, yet just 15 minutes from Todi, 30 from the gorgeous gem of Spoleto, and 40 from Assisi

Lows

  • A rather imposing presence in such a small village
  • The LEDs of our telephone and thermostat stayed illuminated all night; very annoying if you like a dark room
  • There's a road between the hotel and the outdoor pool so you're exposed to cars, though they are rare
  • The hotel is often booked out for weddings

Best time to go

Like most of Mediterranean Europe, Italy is busiest in summer (July-August), and gorgeous in spring (April-June) and autumn (September-October) if you can travel then. The pool is swimmable May-October.

Our top tips

If time allows, drive over the hills to Spoleto (30km) - an gorgeous, underrated town which hosts a fantastic summer Festival dei Due Mondi in late June-mid July, combining opera, organ recitals, theatre and dance with fringe-type events.

Great for...

Family
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13
  • Restaurant + bar
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pools
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room:

Rooms

There are only 13 rooms, which is lovely given the size of the building; other hotels would have crammed in more and lost the sense of space and exclusivity. Each is named after a noble family who have lived here at one time, including the Alcinis who are its current owners.

Signora Alcini, the lady of the house, oversaw the decoration of each room. A fashion designer by trade, she had masses of original furniture restored, then painted snowy white, adding bold striped cushions and velvet seat covers to jazz things up. The resulting blend is extremely easy on the eye - clean and uplifting.

We stayed in a Deluxe - the second smallest room - and it was extremely comfy. The ceiling was beamed, a mock coat of arms hung on one wall, and netted windows gave views over the pool. The overall feel was elegant yet comfortable, and we slept deeply with the window open, awakening to birdsong.

Other rooms are similar, bigger or smaller in size depending on the category, but we liked all that we saw. One Suite has an original vaulted ceiling and kingsize sleigh bed; another has a bed suspended from the ceiling by iron chains, and a massage table for in-room treatments.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

The food at Montignano is good, but it's the dining experience as a whole that really delights. The stone-walled restaurant is softened by candles flickering in its alcoves and a kitsch fluffy heart suspended from the ceiling. Square tables decked out in white linens are a discreet distance apart, and the whole atmosphere is cosy and laidback, with music playing from a retro wireless.

The chef likes to come out and chat to guests, to tell them about his specials and recommendations. We started with Grechetto wine-flavoured risotto with drake meat sauce, and homemade pasta with olive and tomato sauce. For secondi we tried sliced beef steak with rocket, olives and sundried tomato and beef with smoked cheese and aubergine. The wine list is excellent - about 40 listings per colour.

Breakfast is laid out as a buffet, or served in-room for no extra cost. In the interest of research we went for the indulgent option, and phoned down for room service. It felt very decadent to be sat by a sunny window in our fluffy robes with coffee, OJ, and a spread of delicious pastries, cheeses and meats.

If you want to eat out one evening, we'd recommend La Fontana delle Pere in Massa Martana, an excellent agriturismo.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Make full use of the Acqua Degna spa. To do the traditional thermal circuit (as coined by the Romans), start in the Thermarium hydromassage pool. Get the blood pumping with a dip in the icy Frigidarium (plunge pool), then warm up again in the Tepidarum (sauna). The spa can be booked in its entirety from 8pm-midnight for a romantic night-time experience!
  • There's a range of treatments and massages on offer at extra cost, in adjoining treatment rooms. Popular ones include the Hot Stone Ayurvedic massage, the anti-ageing facial, and the wine body peel
  • Take an Umbrian cooking lesson at the hotel (ask in advance of your stay). The English-speaking chef will teach you to make homemade pasta and bruschetta, or more complex Italian dishes if you prefer. Afterwards, you'll sit down to eat what you've prepared (minimum 2 people)
  • Spend a day in Assisi, home of St Francis and the second biggest Catholic pilgrimage site in the world (after Rome). The Basilica di San Francesco is utterly magnificent, and we loved wandering the medieval cobbled streets and people watching in the Piazza del Comune
  • Don't overlook the pretty little hilltown of Todi: its Piazza del Popolo has been called the most perfect medieval square in Italy, with the usual range of civic palazzi and Romanesque-Gothic churches around it

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Well being

Kids

The hotel is very welcoming to, and flexible around, families, but children under 16 are not allowed in the spa. They offer some fantastic family activity packages for all ages; enquire when booking.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The best option for a family with older kids is the Family Suite (2 interconnecting rooms). The Deluxe rooms and Junior Suites can fit an extra bed or baby cot; the Suites can fit up to 2 adults and 2 kids on 2 rollaway beds.

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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