La Locanda delle Donne Monache

Maratea & Cilento Coast, Italy Book from

Soothe your soul at this 17th-century convent in Maratea's old town, with monastic-chic rooms and exquisite dining, a few miles from the beach
An as-yet largely undiscovered gem, this locanda is a joy to stay, swim and eat in. Perched up the mountainside in Maratea's centro storico, high above the terracotta roofs of the 'new' town, its poetic, misty views are enhanced by the soft clanging of ancient church bells. Originally a convent built in 1735, it still has the cloistered, winding corridors, but its tasteful boutique restoration has been given pizzazz by Arabic flourishes and a colourful, quirky feast of modern art collected from around the world.

Drink in the dreamy mountain views, chill in the upper or lower levels of the lush garden, float in the turquoise sun-trap pool, or unwind completely in the fragrant Massage Room. Afterwards, treat your taste buds in the cordon bleu restaurant; this will be a meal you'll remember for a long time.

As an added bonus, the steep, meandering streets of sleepy, cat-filled old Maratea are right on your doorstep, and a stunning 40-minute climb above you is the imposing 21m statue of Christ the Redeemer, which seems to spread its arms protectively over the town. Wonderful.

Highs

  • Maratea's natural beauty: a 19-mile coastline of secluded pebbled beaches lined by pine trees, and blissful azure waters. The hotel offers a free daily transfer to La Secca beach in the summer months
  • The calming, graceful rooms, most with lovely balconies and mountain or garden views; the Suites are well worth splashing out on
  • The sophisticated and utterly delicious food - some of the finest to be found on the Basilicata coast
  • Perfect for a honeymoon or romantic holiday - Maratea is often referred to as Amalfi without the crowds, and this hotel is the best in town
  • Staff are friendly and warm - though this is an upmarket hotel, the ambiance is relaxed

Lows

  • A 2.5-hour drive from Naples airport, with some steep winding roads
  • Having to manually turn off the toilet flush (not good for water conservation!) and the slightly musty smell in our bathroom
  • A lack of overhead lighting can make rooms a little gloomy after dark - particularly as our lamp didn't work and staff didn't quite get around to fixing it
  • There aren't enough sun loungers if all guests throng to the pool

Best time to go

July and August are high season for Italian holidaymakers; most foreigners tend to stay in May-June and September-October. June and September are both quiet with good weather, neither too hot or cold, and in May there's lots of blossom and wild flowers and the sea is at its most scintillating blue. The hotel is closed from November - April.

Our top tips

  • Remember the Italians love their siesta, so most shops and restaurants in old Maratea are firmly closed for a big chunk of the afternoon, with the exception of the supermarket and a couple of cafes, so plan your day accordingly
  • During July and August, steep yourself in Italian art culture during the town's '7 Event' or 'Film Festival' weeks
  • Great for...

    Family
    Foodie
    Honeymoon
    Spa
    Wedding
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 27
    • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
    • All ages welcome
    • Closed: 14 Oct 2015 - 28 Apr 2016...
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Bicycles Available
    Room:

    Rooms

    The rooms are an elegant blend of old and modern, ascetic and exotic. Plain white walls, wafting floor-length curtains, locally made floor tiles, and the occasional raw-rock wall are brightened by colourful wall art and vibrant silk cushions. Decorative touches have been chosen with care and some, like the punched metal or carved-wood lampshades, have a distinctly Middle-Eastern feel. Beds feel downy-soft thanks to fine Italian cotton and duvets.

    It's worth splurging on your accommodation. The Classic Rooms are the smallest, and feel small (1 has a single bed). The Superior Rooms are larger, with more floor space and an armchair, but have only courtyard-facing windows. Deluxe Rooms are bigger again, and most come with private and super-sunny terraces with fab views of the misty mountains - we loved ours! The Suites are the biggest roomsand are all quite different, although there's always a kingsize bed with slim metal canopy, and wonderful views. La Badessa is the most spacious, with a large private terrace; La Vicaria has a groovy rock-embedded bathroom, but only a slim window balcony; Le Novizie is split-level with a single sofabed in the bedroom, and a small single bed in the living room - ideal for families; La Superiora has 4 windows so is lovely and light-filled (but doesn't have a bathtub), and Le Converse has a separate bath and shower, and a private garden.

    Bathrooms are peacefully tiled in shades of blue/green and have showers or bathtubs, plus little luxuries like the finest-Italian-linen robes and towels, plus slippers, a hairdryer and L'Occitane toiletries.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Central heating
    • Cots Available
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Safe box
    • Satellite tv
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • WiFi
    • Wifi internet

    Eating

    The locanda's gourmet restaurant, Il Sacello, serves up the best food for miles around (so it's worth booking ahead, particularly in July and August). It offers unusually light, nouvelle cuisine-style portions (which means you are able to try several), with seasonal, organic and local ingredients, including surprising ones like tomato leaves and caper flowers.

    Each dish has been calibrated to offer a unique taste sensation - we had to close our eyes to savour each delicate mouthful! Our dinner consisted of a single lobster-stuffed cannelloni (on a teaspoon of asparagus and beans, topped with fresh fennel), followed by fresh lobster. Next up was gnocchi with scampi, then sea bass fillet in a tomato pot. We finished with chunks of dense frozen ricotta ice cream with shards of dark chocolate and a warm, fluffy muffin. All utterly delicious.

    Breakfast is the usual Continental buffet of cereals, yoghurts, fruits and juices, bread, pastries, cakes, cheeses and cold meats (though the Italians seem to like their bacon almost raw!), along with teas or frothy cappuccinos. Eggs any style or crepes can also be ordered for no extra charge.

    You can dine in the restaurant, or out on the parasol-shaded deck, where you sit on white-cushioned chairs and sofas. The menu only changes few weeks, so if you're here for a few days, we'd also recommend the old town's Taverna Rovita and Antichi Sapori, which both serve richly-flavoured and filling traditional Lucanian fare. The fresh seafood at port-facing Lanterna Rossa is also excellent. Just steer clear of La Torre's pizzas, which are oversalted and undercooked!

    Features include:

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

    Activities

    • Spend the day at La Secca beach, a pretty rocky cove 8km away - locanda guests get free transfers, entry, and a waterside lounger & parasol. Or drive to the sandy cove of Macarro Beach (5km)

    • Explore the narrow alleys of old Maratea: shop, talk to the cats, visit some of the 44 churches, and see archeological finds in the Convento dei Cappuccini and Palazzo de Lieto Museum

    • Pop down to the lively little port with its old fishing trawlers, luxury yachts, shops, cafes and chic bars and restaurants

    • Savour the stunning views on the 40-minute climb up to the medieval ruins and bright-white, 21m statue of Christ the Redeemer - it's well worth the effort!

    • Rent a launch from the port and explore the surreal caves and grottoes of the Maratea coastline, as well as finding secluded pebbly coves

    • Water babies can go sailing, paragliding, rafting or canoeing, or book a diving and snorkelling trip to enjoy the azure blue waters and visibility up to 20m

    • There are lots of stables nearby for horse riding

    • Further afield, visit the pretty hilltop towns of Rivello, Nemoli and Lagonegro (all 20-30km), and the wonderfully preserved Greek ruins of Paestum (108km), medieval Caracciolo Castle in Brienza (90km), Roman ruins of Grumentum (70km) and the famous charterhouse of Certosa di Padula (60km)

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Kayaking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Paragliding
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Private guided tours
    • Rafting
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Shopping / markets
    • Snorkelling
    • Swimming
    • Well being
    • Windsurfing
    • Wine tasting
    • Yoga

    Kids

    Families are welcome, though it's largely a romantic retreat. Children under 3 stay for free; from 3 onwards there's a small charge for an extra bed. Kids will love the pool and the winding, cloister corridors - and no doubt have fun with Maratea's many cats!

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Le Novizie Suite is split level with a single sofabed in the bedroom, and a daybed which can be made up as an additional single bed in the living area.

    Babysitting:

    Babysitting available on request.

    Baby equipment:

    Baby cots and highchairs

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

    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

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

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