La Fiermontina

Lecce, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Eur200

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
New art-filled retreat in Lecce (Puglia's most splendid town), with tree-shaded gardens and beguiling links to 1930s Paris and Hollywood
This is a hotel with an artistic soul, and 2 romantic tales attached. The owner’s grandmother ran away from her village to 1930s Paris, where she married French sculptor René Letourneur, before ditching him for his best friend, sculptor Jacques Zwobada. Le Fiermontina is a tribute to her, filled with artworks by both husbands and other artists such as Le Corbusier. The second tale regards her brother, another colourful character. A boxer, he later became a Hollywood actor, and married American socialite Nancy Astor - the chic basement bar is dedicated to him, bright with posters of his boxing and film career.

The hotel itself merges Parisian style with Puglian culture (the owner is from Paris but his roots are here), and has a pole position in Lecce, Puglia's most splendid town. The historic city walls skirt its shady, sculpture-dotted gardens, and so much space is a surprise this close to the centre. The converted, golden-stone 17th-century buildings have a quiet grandeur, and the minimalism and peace make it an ideal place for couples.

Highs

  • Space and calm in Lecce's city centre, a short walk from the main sights
  • Elegant interior design (from Paris) and careful attention to detail
  • Lots of space in the 16 rooms, and many have a terrace or garden
  • Charming, friendly service, which gives a personal feel
  • Shady lawns, fragrant orange trees and a lovely pool

Lows

  • Expensive, and rates don't include tax
  • Our dinner was overcooked, but other guests have raved about the food and breakfast offers a good spread
  • No spa, though treatments are available in your room
  • It almost feels too grown up for kids, yet they are welcome and you'll feel at ease with them here

Best time to go

Puglia is at its finest in June and September, as it's usually warm enough to swim, and uncrowded. July and August are hot and busy, but have a vibrant atmosphere, with lots of local festivals. April, May and October are also lovely, though cooler, and the winter months are chilly, but fun because of the Christmas festivities.

Our top tips

In the height of summer, the best possible pick-me-up is ghiaccio con latte di mandorla (espresso with ice and almond milk), a Leccese speciality.

Great for...

City Style
Family
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16
  • Restaurant and bar open daily
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Deluxe

Rooms

The 16 rooms have almond-coloured smooth Trani stone on the floors, star-pinnacled stone ceilings, and walls of golden Leccese stone. The furnishings echo these pale tones, a symphony of muted colours, and the restrained palette is immediately relaxing.

There are various room categories, from Doubles up to Suites. All are lovely, though our stand-out room was One-Bedroom Suite #8, with great garden views from its gleaming-white circular bath. Also recommended is the Hermes suite (another One-Bedroom Suite), so-named as the owner is a friend of the French fashion family, with star-vaulted ceilings and a terrace overlooking the gardens. Six of the rooms have shower and freestanding bathtub, while the rest have large walk-in showers. See rates for details on the various categories.

Some rooms are in the ‘Lazzari’ villa across the garden courtyard, offering even more privacy. #15, a Duplex Suite, has a gorgeous private garden lined in roses and small lemon trees.  

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The intimate restaurant has an extraordinarily high, wood-coffered ceiling. It’s elegant throughout, with sage-green table runners, small glass-topped tables, and silver cutlery from Paris. At one end are armchairs around a fireplace - a relaxing setting for a pre-dinner drink or post-prandial. Glass doors lead out to the courtyard where there are tables for warmer days.  

Dinner is a complex a la carte menu. Our starter was prawn carpaccio with basil and citrus olive oil - deliciously light. Sadly, our main of seared tuna served on crispy potato with vegetables brunoise had been overcooked, but other guests have raved about the food.

A buffet breakfast includes cured meats, local cheeses, crostate (jam tart) and homemade jams. Cooked breakfasts are extra, but worth it - we loved our fried egg with chard and bacon. There are light lunches available, or restaurants abound in Lecce and staff can advise.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children meals
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander around historic Lecce, with its Baroque churches, glorious cathedral and Roman ruins
  • Day trip to the gleaming-white hilltop town of Ostuni, the graceful marble towns of Cisternino and Martina Franca, and Alberobello, with its extraordinary townscape of cone-shaped buildings
  • There are lovely beaches along the Puglian coast, with white sand and powder-blue sea: Baia dei Turchi has a number of secluded coves
  • The hotel can arrange guides for the region, as well as traditional dance lessons, countryside picnics or wine and olive-oil tastings
  • Active types can go horse riding and cycling in Salento (the southern Puglian region)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Beaches
  • Cycling
  • Dance lessons
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children are welcome, and there's plenty of space for them to roam around the gardens and play in the pool, though the ambiance is serene. Children aged 0-4 stay for free; children aged 4-12 years old are charged 25% of the room rate for an extra bed in their parents' room; children aged 13-18 are charged 50% of the room rate. The concierge can suggest local activities.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

Junior Suites can fit a baby cot. One-Bedroom Suites #7 and #8, and Duplex Suites #12 and #15 all have a sofabed that can sleep 2 children, or space for a baby cot.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • Highchairs
  • Changing mat
  • Baby bath

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

The chef can accommodate requests for children's meals

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Paddling pool
  • Gardens

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Beaches within 30 minutes, the nearest is San Cataldo, San Foca is considered the best

Families Should Know:

The Duplex Suite isn't recommended for families with small children because the bedroom is on the first floor

Distances:

  • Airport: 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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