La Granica

Fontanile, Piedmont, Italy Book from

Rustic meets smart contemporary in a Piedmontese farmstead with 4 fabulous rooms, a family cottage and its own vineyard
Enfolded in the gentle Monferrato hills, Karen and Mark Langley's rural idyll is an 18th century grain store in a peaceful valley near Fontanile. When they discovered the place, they were on a mission - to find an escape from hum-drum city jobs, somewhere close to Karen’s roots (born in Glasgow, she is half Italian). For them, this is the dolce vita: a house in the country, fields of vines, real food, fine wines, long summers. But thankfully for us, they chose to share it with others.

They have kept it small and homely, but there is nothing homespun about this cleverly converted barn. The interior is lined with oak and brick, teak and slate, the odd wall of luscious wallpaper. The rooms are furnished with sleek Milan-designer furniture, mood lighting, a touch of Japanese modernism, a bit of crystal bling, a nod towards carbon-neutrality. In one of Piedmont’s most beautiful corners, it feels like the middle of nowhere but it’s an easy drive from Alba, Asti and Acqui Terme, and walking distance from a wine cantina.

Highs

  • Gorgeous suite-like rooms - lots of light, clean space, teak floors, panels of Indian silk and a dash of colour
  • A warm, friendly welcome - a bit like staying with friends
  • Good green credentials - spring-fed water supply, solar-powered energy and a chlorine-free pool
  • Great location in Piedmont’s wine-and-food heart - an easy drive from Alba, Asti and Acqui Terme

Lows

  • With just 4 rooms and 1 cottage, you’ll need to book well in advance
  • Breakfast is the only meal available, and you may need to drive to the nearest restaurant
  • Smokers should be aware: no lighting up in the hotel or grounds

Best time to go

In this “enogastronomic” region, there seems to be a feast or a food festival every other week from spring until autumn, celebrating just about everything from asparagus to chickpeas and hazelnuts. Visit in May for fine weather and Piedmont wine festivals; the local village, Fontanile, holds a small one in June. In autumn, come for the wine harvest and truffle season (the Alba truffle festival takes place in October/November). La Granica is closed briefly in winter (dates vary).

Great for...

Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 4 + 1 cottage for 2-4
  • Breakfast only
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 2 Dec 2016 - 31 May 2017
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

There are 4 rooms (Amber, Aubergine, Red and Sage), one on each corner of the first floor. All are slightly different but equally generous spaces, with high sloping ceilings, exposed timbers, polished teak floors and a few well-chosen pieces of contemporary furniture. The look is unfussy, with natural finishes (Indian silks, Egyptian cotton, wenge wood), warm colours and a touch of Zen. The Bohemian crystal chandeliers were, admits Karen, “a mad moment of indulgence”, but the effect is rather like putting a diamond brooch with a little black dress.

We loved our sunny, twin-aspect Aubergine room with its deep purple chaise longue, comfy armchair, simple Japanese-style four-poster bed and French windows (with shutters) opening onto a small balcony overlooking the vineyard. The Red room next door is furnished with a mahogany sleigh bed and has two balconies (Amber, is the only one without one). Sage is the smallest room, but still charming. All have LCD TVs, DVD/CD players, and a few little extras, like bowls of chocolates, candle holders and potted orchids.

The lofty, wet-room bathrooms are fabulous, all lined with limestone and black slate, and equipped with baths and walk-in rain showers, funky sculpted basins, chrome taps and rails and supplied with luxury towels and Aveda toiletries.

The two-storey cottage next door is a little more traditional, less glamorous in style, but offers a cosy, family-friendly self-catering option available for holidays or short breaks (minimum stay of two nights). Part of the original 300-year-old building, the cottage has a kitchen-diner (microwave, fridge, washing machine), living room, double room with four-poster, a twin room and family bathroom.

Features include:

  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • Radio
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Tv

Eating

Light, simple snacks are available daily- a bowl of homemade pasta, perhaps, or a Piedmont ploughman’s (with Gorgonzola cheese and Prosciutto). Guests eat in the dining room - sunny or candlelit, depending on the weather and the time of year - or on the comfy sofa on La Granica’s shaded outdoor terrace.

Otherwise, you can head off to one of dozens of excellent local restaurants. Karen’s favourites are: La Signora in Rosso, an atmospheric enoteca in Nizza Monferrato, where you can eat and drink - the wine list is vast - in the courtyard in summer and in the cellar in cooler weather; or La Curia (photo 5 above) in Acqui Terme, where specialities include fresh fish from the Ligurian coast.

Breakfast, served in the dining room, is a buffet of cereals, fresh fruits, bread, pastries, a variety of teas and coffees, salamis, cheese and eggs to order.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Snacks on request
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • If you want to stay close to home, just take a walk through the vineyard up to Fontanile, a small village crowned by a magnificent church dome. There a small local bar-café, lovely views of the hills and vineyards, and on a fine day you can see the snowy peaks of the Alps

  • Explore the beautiful Roman spa town of Acqui Terme (15 mins drive), the Piedmont equivalent of England’s Bath Spa (with piping hot thermal springs). You can book a steamy thermal treatment in the modern spa at the Grand Termes in the Piazza Italia. The town is great for shopping, too and there’s a market on Tuesday mornings

  • Medieval Alba, the centre of the Barolo wine region, is also worth a visit. There are pay-as-you-go bikes for hire in the centre, and in October/November the town hosts an annual 6-week truffle festival

  • Enjoy the hustle and bustle of Wednesday morning produce market at Asti (30 mins) – a great introduction to Piedmont’s foodie culture, at the heart of the famous sparkling-wine town

  • Local towns and villages worth a look include: Nizza Monferrato (10 mins), good for restaurants, shopping and mooching around; the hilltop village of Mombaruzzo (5 mins), home to the Amaretti biscuit, the Berta Grappa distillery and an excellent Cantina Sociale; and Canelli (15 mins) for cobbled streets and more cantinas

  • Wine buffs should make pilgrimage to the hilltop villages of Barbaresco, Nizza (for Barbera) or Nieve, though closer to home there is a social cantina at Fontanile, which is open for wine tastings. The largest private winery in the area, Nocetto Michelotti (about 3 mins away), has a state of the art cantina and they speak English.

  • Longer day trips can take you up to museum-rich Turin (the famous shroud is stored in the Capella della Sindone in the Duomo), the fashion capital of Milan (the drive into the city is not for the fainthearted), to the Ligurian coast around Genoa (75 km) or the stunning scenery of the Italian Lakes (120km)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Hot air ballooning
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Traditional cultures

Kids

Well-behaved children are welcome in the cottage, while in the main building each suite can take 1 extra bed. Extra beds/cots and breakfast are subject to a supplement.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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