L'Hotel in Pietra

Matera, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Book from £61 per night

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. 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, there's a sense of having discovered a real gem
  • 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

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
  • 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
  • Loft 79's setting doesn't share the hotel's wow-factor sassi setting, but it does offer space, comfort and convenience

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: Deluxe Classic

Rooms

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.

Since our visit, 1-bedroom Loft 79 has joined the ranks. Granted it's 400 metres away from the hotel, but 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. 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
  • 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 may not be 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.

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. 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.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots available on request

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

Kid Friendly: Deluxe Classic

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 10 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

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 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,

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,

Fantastic location, beautifully designed and comfortable bedrooms, luxury in the case of Matera. Delicious buffet breakfast. Very helpful staff who told us the must see places.

10/10,

Best hotel EVER stayed in for location (centre of pedestrian area of unique and spectacular ancient town), incredible view, genuine friendly service (Roberto and 'guide' Martha) and general ambience/beautiful decor. Will definitely return.

10/10,

Stunning views of Matera, clean well designed rooms, everything was perfect

9/10,

Loved our stay, perfect location and very helpful. Great view across the town, would love to stay here again.

10/10,

The rooms and the location are wonderful, but the service and the cleanliness wasn't very good. Restaurant Il Mare nei Sassi is really a good place to eat.

6/10,

We stayed on room 1006 which felt quite small and was really damp and humid. It was a lot like trying to sleep in a sauna and was actually fairly unpleasant. We had a look in one of the suites and that was much more airy, I guess because of the size it didn’t feel so damp.
The room had a dehumidifier but we didn’t have any control over it. There was also a fan which really helped but it was too noisy to use when we were trying to sleep. The mattress was excellent and the bathroom was fine, if a little cramped. I think if we had stayed in a bigger room this wouldn’t have been so much of a problem.
I suspect because we arrived when it was raining the room was more damp than normal but walking in from the outside was very unpleasant. We were pretty disappointed with the breakfast. We arrived a little later than most of the other guests on the first morning and a lot of the food had already been eaten and not replaced. Most of the savoury food had gone and only cereal, cake and cold pizza was available. The second morning we arrived much earlier and the choice was much better, although there was no fresh fruit and we were only offered one cup of coffee. If it was a B&B I wouldn’t have minded but L’hotel in Pietra is marketed as a boutique hotel and I don’t think it really achieved that level. The staff were helpful and gave us all the information we needed. No problems at all. I understand that a cave will be damp but it was really as hot and stuffy as a sauna. The reception area itself is lovely and if we had stayed in Suite I am sure we would have had a different experience. The toiletries in our room had not been replaced when we first arrived. There was no soap and the shampoo bottles were half empty, presumably from the last occupants. It is a small thing but in a hotel marketing itself as boutique I don’t think it really hit the required standard. The car parking was really easy and cost 20€ per day.
Check with the hotel about parking before you arrive and have a good map/satnav of Matera so that you can find the car park.
We ate in Osteria Pico and the food and service was excellent, the mixed starters were particularly great. Visiting in Late October/November a few of the restaurants were closed.

6/10,

We stayed in room 1009 after getting engaged at the previous location on our trip. It was absolutely perfect for celebrating - a beautiful and chic room with stunning views over the sassi. We originally wanted to stay in the main hotel but we'd highly recommend requesting this room if you're looking for something more private and very romantic as it feels like its own little apartment.

10/10,

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Rates for L'Hotel in Pietra