“Historic palazzo in the white hilltown of Ostuni, with Moorish patios, a Michelin-starred restaurant and creamy interiors”
Follow twisting stairs up to an arched 4m-high salon, with gargantuan armchairs and spherical chrome speakers courtesy of Milan-based homeware label Culti. Off this lie the 10 rooms and suites, each a pared-down haven of meditative neutrals with silky stone floors and contemporary, clean-lined furniture. Some have vaulted ceilings hewn from the rock, others steep steps up to a mezzanine sleeping platform. All are cocooning and blissfully silent (the old town is traffic-free). With a small spa downstairs, a superb gelaterie on your doorstep, and several beaches within 30 minutes' drive, it makes a great hideaway for couples and food lovers alike.
- A magnificent position at the peak of historic Ostuni, gazing over olive groves to the Adriatic coast; sunsets here are spectacular
- The best food we tasted in Puglia: delicate flavours, inventive presentation and great value
- Luxurious rooms, with extremely comfy beds and pampering bathrooms. One has a working fireplace; another a circular Jacuzzi tub
- Beautiful courtyards and terraces, scattered with shaded daybeds and flickering lanterns
- An excellent location for exploring Puglia: sandy beaches, historic trulli and the Torre Guaceto nature reserve are all less than 30 minutes away
- The interiors might be a little too minimalist for some
- You can't drive to the door, though they operate a tuk-tuk transfer and porter system in summer
- Don't plan on swimming in the tiny pool; it's more of a leg-cooler (or an excuse to show off your tan)
- No twin bedrooms (only double)
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant (open daily)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Plunge Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Concierge Service
Scattered about the palazzo are 10 rooms and suites, many carved out of old monks' cells. Some have balconies overlooking the gardens, others small windows through metre-thick fortress walls. Some suites are duplex affairs with downstairs sitting rooms (often with sofabeds or space for rollaway beds) and upstairs bedrooms; others are a long succession of vaulted rooms.
What they all have in common is calm, minimalist decor with smooth stone floors, cream walls, super-comfy kingsize beds (no twins), and little furniture besides a chic ladder to hang your clothes, and a pair of linen-clad chairs or a cubical poof. There’s plenty of technology, though: underfloor heating, slimline TVs, pocket-sprung mattresses, WiFi (or wired ADSL internet in the thick-walled rooms). Our room, La Loggia, even had motorised blinds to black out the window hewn out of the 6m-high vaulted ceiling. Gleaming glass and chrome bathrooms come with Bulgari toiletries and, often, a separate wetroom with a pancake-sized shower.
Other rooms which caught our eye were Il Camino (Suite) for its separate sitting room with cosy fireplace; La Cattedrale (Suite) for its enormous church-like bathroom; and Le Volte (Master Suite) for its panoramic terrace and circular Jacuzzi tub (a honeymooners' favourite).
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Cots Available
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Plunge pool
- Safe box
La Sommita cleverly poached a rising young chef, Sebastiano Lombardi, from a rival hotel, and he has brought fantastic recipes, superb tastes and a refreshing lack of pretension along with his Michelin star.
Head to the Cielo restaurant’s vaulted dining room for dinner (or, in summer, the walled garden outside) and choose between à la carte dishes and a range of tasting menus (including vegetarian and vegan options). We opted for one of the tasting menus and were treated to plate after plate of delicious and theatrically presented food, all inspired by Lombardi’s childhood memories. Highlights included amuse-bouches of savoury cannoli filled with herby goats’ cheese, a palate cleanser made from frozen spheres of Aperol, succulent lamb with a delicate sea-urchin sauce, and a chocolate-coated crema catalana ingeniously disguised as an egg and flour. The food is accompanied by an extensive wine list, including tasting-menu pairings expertly chosen by the sommelier.
Breakfast, served in the lounge next door, is just as tempting: local cheeses, cold cuts, homemade pastries, organic jams, yoghurts, plum cake, fresh juices. Eggs come to order, and you can come down any time until 11am. After that, the room is transformed into a bistro offering a informal lunches, with a menu of Italian comfort food based on the recipes of Lombardi’s grandmother.
- Restaurants nearby
- Room service
- Vegetarian menu
- Explore Ostuni – a jewel of a town. Wander along cobbled lanes, past fragrant bakeries and Baroque churches (one contains an early history exhibition), to the Piazza della Libertà, which throbs with café life on a summer evening
- Explore the rolling countryside, where olive trees twist around dry-stone walls, interspersed with distinctive trulli. In spring, when yellow oxalis flowers blaze the ground, it's a rambler's and photographer's delight
- The nearby towns of Cisternino and Martina Franca are full of labyrinthine alleys and inviting restaurants; the latter also boasts some decent boutiques. Alberobello, the original trulli town, has become over-touristy and rather tacky
- Head to the beach. There's a string of sandy lidos nearby, including one at the Rosa Marina resort (10km away), which offers watersports, sunbeds and bar drinks at special rates for La Sommita guests
- Take in the unspoilt tranquility of the Torre Guaceto nature reserve (25km away), which has a 7km stretch of sandy shores centred around a 16th-century watchtower. Walk to the horseshoe bays at its centre (no vehicles are allowed) and, in April or May, you can be alone with the lizards, kingfishers, tortoises and sea birds
- Nip down the motorway to the exuberant Baroque town of Lecce (1 hour away). It’s packed with honey-stoned palazzi, ornate churches and Roman remains
- Or head up to the low-key harbour town of Polignano a Mare (40 minutes), with its wave-beaten rocks, sheltered cove and famous cave-restaurant
- Make sure you leave time for a relaxing treatment in the spa. The hotel can also arrange horse-riding excursions and cookery lessons
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Cooking classes
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Shopping / markets
- Well being
Children of all ages are welcome. However the place is more of a stylish adult retreat, with its designer décor, uneven steps and hushed atmosphere.
Family friendly accommodation:
Three split-level suites (Cielo, Aurora and La Cattedrale) can accommodate 1- 2 single beds / sofabeds, in addition to the double bed.
Babysitting is available by arrangement.
Baby cots are available on request.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking