L'Hotel in Pietra

Matera, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
Beautiful boutique 12th-century church conversion, overlooking Matera’s warren-like, ravine-edged Sassi Barisano quarter
Perched high up in the sassi (Matera’s old town quarters, built into and over caves), a converted 12th-century Benedictine church houses L’Hotel in Pietra. The reception-breakfast room occupies the sometime nave, with soaring ceiling and looping tall arches.

A mix of French, Italian and Brazilian furniture decorates, lovely solid pieces arranged with a pared-down simplicity. Walls are pale exposed stone, a warm gold. Modernist touches marry well with the antiquity, such as large low, wood-edged double beds and thick glass partitions.

All of the characterful rooms are different, imaginative conversions of the unusual spaces the old buildings provide. Most have extraordinary views, too - over the town and across to the cathedral. The peace is palpable: the sassi lanes are too narrow and stepped for vehicles. A remarkable place to stay in a remarkable city.


  • Beautiful, pared-down design, with antiques and carved-wood furniture set against sandstone arches, cave interiors and thick glass
  • Laid-back relaxed atmosphere
  • The sense of having discovered a gem
  • Utter tranquillity - the sassi are interconnected via tiny lanes unsuitable for traffic
  • Owners are proud of their hotel and eager to please


  • The Standard Single (1001) is extremely tiny and snug - but the room has a good view
  • Not for the athletically challenged - most rooms have steep or uneven stairs and some have ladders, plus there are steps to reach the entrance of the hotel
  • Parking is 300m away. Arranging to have your luggage transferred in advance may seem a hassle, but is the nature of staying in the sassi

Best time to go

Spring (May-June) is the best time to visit. July and August are very hot, and tend to be the busiest time. September and October are crowd free and can be balmy, but the weather is unpredictable and may also be a bit cold. Winters are cold, though atmospheric - you might even get a sprinkling of snow. On 2 July, a huge statue of the Madonna Bruna is paraded through town before being torn apart and burned, accompanied by a spectacular fireworks display.

Our top tips

Staying in Matera’s sassi is not for people who find steps difficult. Artists, photographers and those interested in architecture and local history will love it.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Breakfast (+ walk to off-site restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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: Deluxe Classic


Suites are fabulous: 1004 has a triplex layout, with a beige sofabed on the lowest level, a kingsize double on the next, and a Brazilian chaise longue and sassi views from the third. The bathroom is in a real cave, with a huge round bath, separate rainfall shower and twin sinks. The other suite, 1003, has a kingsize four-poster and original bell-tower staircase, which allows access first to a lounge area with sofabed, then to a small walled terrace with sweeping sassi panorama.

1007 is a Junior Suite, with high ceilings and a Jacuzzi. The Deluxe Classic, 1005, has a kingsize bed, sofabed, an alcove desk and walls that dissolve into a cave. The lower, cavelike Standard Classic 1006 has a stone shower; Standard Classic 1002 is a romantic double on 2 levels, with views over the sassi from the bed, and has a ladder-like staircase that leads down to the bathroom - though this is set to change to something easier to negotiate in the dead of night. Standard Single 1001 has a beautiful stone bed, and Standard Small 1008 is split-level; both are smaller, but still unique and characterful. We're yet to see the Deluxe Small 1009, which is located on a parallel street (40m from reception), but it boasts exceptional views of the Cathedral and across the sassi so looks like a great romantic bolthole.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


At present breakfast is the only meal on offer: it’s a small but good-quality buffet, with light-as-air cream-filled cornetti (croissants), crostate (jam tarts), croissants filled with ham and cheese, fruit and fruit juice. You're served with your preference of coffee: espresso, cappuccino etc, or can order tea from the reception bar. In summer you can eat breakfast outside, on the terrace-like area (with views) in front of the hotel.

Room-service drinks are available all day - coffee, liqueurs and wine by the bottle or glass. The owners plan to offer antipasti-style snacks of local products in the future; salamis and local cheeses.

The hotel is less than a minute’s walk from Via Fiorentini, which has a good choice of restaurants, and about 5 minutes' walk from the centre of town and more eateries. The following restaurants are recommended by the hotel: Lucanerie, Don Matteo, Le Botteghe, Trattoria Lucana and Baccanti. Roberto has struck a deal with a couple of local places in the sassi; you'll get a discount if you say you're staying at L'Hotel in Pietra.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Explore the winding alleys and frescoed cave-churches of the sassi. A Unesco World Heritage site, the fabulous ancient scenery was used as the setting for Jerusalem in The Passion of Christ, starring Mel Gibson
  • Visit MUSMA, the contemporary sculpture museum, then stroll around the lovely cathedral
  • Go for a passeggiata (evening stroll) in Piazza Vittorio Veneto - the whole town seems to turn out for an amble at dusk
  • Go hiking, riding or mountain biking in the surrounding countryside; the hotel can arrange guides and bike hire
  • Visit the antiquities and paintings of author Carlo Levi at Museo Nazionale Ridola and Museo di Arte Medievale e Moderna
  • Explore the nearby ghost town of Craco, and Aliano, where Carlo Levi was imprisoned during the Fascist era
  • There are some beautiful beaches about an hour from Matera, in particular the coast south of Taranto (try Pulsano or Torretta)
  • Taste the local specialities such as salami, cheese and velvety red wines
  • There's a tennis court in Matera, should you fancy a game, or the hotel can arrange in-room massages
  • Take Italian lessons, try your hand at Italian cooking or learn how to paint; Roberto will recommend excellent teachers

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Art classes
  • Cooking classes
  • Creative writing
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Language courses
  • Mountain biking
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis


This isn’t an ideal place for children as you might feel that they were disturbing the peace. The antiques and thick glass in many of the rooms would not suit young children clambering around. That said, they do accept families and a cot is available (at extra cost).

Family friendly accommodation:

The Deluxe Classic and Suites have 2 double beds or a double bed and a double sofabed, and space for a baby cot.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly: Deluxe Classic

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