L'Hotel in Pietra

Matera, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Book from £63 per night

Beautiful boutique 13th-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 13th-century Benedictine church houses L’Hotel in Pietra. The reception-breakfast room occupies the sometime nave, with soaring ceiling and looping tall arches. 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.

Down in the town centre, there's also a beautiful apartment, complete with exposed stonework and lofty windows. In both locations, 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.

Highs

  • A remarkable place to stay in a remarkable city - Matera is utterly beautiful and the hotel is so unique and full of character
  • Beautiful, pared-down design, with antiques and carved-wood furniture set against sandstone arches, cave interiors and thick glass
  • A laid-back relaxed atmosphere and the self-catering Loft 79 apartment is ideal for more independent travellers
  • Utter tranquillity - the sassi are interconnected via tiny lanes unsuitable for traffic
  • Owners are proud of their hotel and eager to please
  • The rooms, hotel and whole town is impossibly romantic

Lows

  • 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
  • The nearest on-street parking is 80m away; their private garage is 300m away, but this is the nature of staying in the sassi
  • Loft 79's setting doesn't share the hotel's wow-factor sassi setting, but it does offer space, comfort and convenience
  • This is cave living, so the atmosphere may feel a little damp at times - worth it for us, but guests with respirotary problems may feel otherwise

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
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9 + 1 apartment
  • 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: Loft 79

Rooms

Suites are fabulous: Suite 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 and rainfall shower. Suite 1003, has a kingsize four-poster and original bell-tower staircase, which allows access to a Jacuzzi and a small walled terrace with sweeping sassi panorama.

Our Junior Suite 1007 consisted of a bedroom and stairs through to a sunken cave with walk-in shower room and Jacuzzi - it was like a Bond villains lair! The Deluxe Classic 1005 has a kingsize bed an alcove desk and walls that dissolve into a cave. The lower, cavelike Standard Classic 1006 has a stone shower. Split-level Standard Classic 1002 is a romantic double with views over the sassi from the bed; a ladder-like staircase leads down to the bathroom. Standard Single 1001 has a beautiful stone bed, and Standard Small 1008 is split-level; both are smaller, but still unique and characterful.

Located on a parallel street (a 2-minute walk from reception), the Deluxe Small 1009, but it boasts spectacular Cathedral and sassi views - very romantic.

We're yet to see the 1-bedroom Loft 79. It’s not in the ancient sassi, so you miss out on the cave dwellings, but you’re still slap bang in the action of the old town and within easy walking distance of all the sights and restaurants. For the more independent traveller, it offers added privacy and the autonomy of being able to cook for oneself. We can't wait to see it for ourselves.

Features include:

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

Eating

The hotel offers a small but good-quality breakfast 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. Loft 79 guests have their own kitchen, so self-catering is easy as pie.

Room-service drinks are available all day - coffee, liqueurs and wine by the bottle or glass.

There’s a huge number of cafés and restaurants within a 5-minute walk. If you're dining out, the team will ask you about your preferences and tailor their suggestions to your tastes (high end, cheap and cheerful, relaxed trattoria, pizza). We tried two traditional trattorias in the old stassi – Da Nico and Oi Mari – both were cute and buzzy with typically traditional local food.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • 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

Kids

They do accept families but this is a really hushed place - there are steps and drops at every turn (both in rooms and the old town). It could be a headache with a toddler in tow. The antiques and thick glass in many of the rooms would not suit young children clambering around.

Family friendly accommodation:

Loft 79 is an open-plan self-catering apartment 400 metres away in the city centre. It has a double bed, a sofabed, a kitchen and a semi-open plan ensuite bathroom. 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:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 13 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

We absolutely loved our short stop at L’pietra. We stayed in the small deluxe which is just above the main hotel and looks out onto Matera. The view was just breathtaking and Matera is a magical town. We hope to return again for sure, for a much longer stay

10/10,

A lovely and quirky hotel in Matera. Slightly tricky to find and parking involves a bit of a battle with the locals but the hotel itself is really nice - it's clean and well kept with great views over the old town. The staff are friendly and happy to offer advice and recommendations.

9/10,

We had stayed at the hotel before and had a great time but on this occasion we chose to stay in their self catering apartment. It was great - beautiful decorated, spotless, spacious and well equipped. Position on the edge of the old town was very convenient. We would certainly stay there again.

10/10,

This place is fabulous and in a converted church dating back to the 11th century. It's a great base to visit Matera and the staff are so lovely and really helpful. Rooms are really cool and designed thoughtfully. Will definitely recommend.

8/10,

This is a real treasure

10/10,

It was a stunning place to stay. Our room was beautiful - calm, large, weird and wonderful. Staff were all very helpful and easy.

10/10,

Fabulous place to stay right in the stassi historical area of Matera. What a lovely spot and special place. Don't miss it before tourism grows to make it less authentic.

10/10,

Beautiful hotel in a perfect location. The staff were so lovely and helpful. Everyone went out of their way to ensure our stay was comfortable and relaxing.

10/10,

We all loved L'Hotel in Pietra - the staff were extremely friendly and helpful, and the building is beautiful. Our stay in Matera was magical.

9/10,

We enjoyed our stay, the accommodation was quirky, clean and very well appointed. The staff were very friendly and helpful every time we needed them. Unfortunately we felt somewhat let down by the food options for breakfast. We do not eat meat and it seemed like many of the breakfast options only came with meat. We opted for yoghurts and cereal but in both cases the quality of the products was disappointing. It would have been nice to have local produce.

8/10,

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Rates for L'Hotel in Pietra