Masseria Montelauro

Otranto, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Abigail Blasi
Sublime, sophisticated converted farm, with chic white décor and excellent food, set in olive groves near coastal Otranto
These gleaming white, squared-off buildings, set among acres of lawns and fruit trees, are a 19th-century farm complex that once housed 20 families. The thoughtful conversion has preserved all the building’s features: barrel-vaulted ceilings, thick walls, cool interiors. The only new addition is an elegant, cream-stone infinity pool. Surrounding the the grassy courtyards are 29 tranquil rooms, the best with their own access to the gardens.

Décor is all white, with Moroccan silver kettles and huge trays in the reception, and snow-white Pugliese embroidery in the rooms. The effect is sophisticated, light and wonderfully soothing. Cactus, olive trees, vines and date palms dot the grounds, surrounded by rural farmland. In the vaulted dining room, delicious local produce is served for lunch and dinner. If the peace gets too much, you’re 2km from Otranto, one of Puglia’s most popular coastal towns, with cobbled lanes, boutiques, bars and a yacht-bobbing marina; kids will love the castle and sandy beach nearby.

Highs

  • Serene setting in ancient farmland
  • Lush lawns, tranquil outdoor sitting areas and delightful pool
  • Grown-up dazzling white décor with beautiful Moroccan and Pugliese details
  • Well placed to visit lovely Otranto and some superb coastline
  • Great food made from local produce

Lows

  • One set menu for dinner - and it's not cheap
  • It’s a quiet, subdued kind of place - not for those seeking somewhere lively
  • In August, however, the pool can get very busy
  • The Salentine peninsula - the tip of Italy’s heel - gets scorched in summer, and lacks the rich hinterland of northern Puglia
  • The WiFi is very unreliable, but you're here to switch off

Best time to go

Spring (May-June) is marvellous in Puglia - the beaches are quiet and wild flowers run riot. September and October are also crowd free and balmy. In August, when Italy takes its holidays, it’ll seem like most of the population is here.

Our top tips

A week is ideal for complete relaxation, or 2 if you can afford it; but even a long weekend would be smashing.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Great Outdoors
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 29
  • Restaurant + bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome.
  • Closed: 4 Dec 2016 - 13 Apr 2017
  • 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: Junior Suite

Rooms

With their gleaming white walls, bedspreads and chairs offset by lace-edged linen and a few carefully chosen antiques, these rooms are both sophisticated and rustic. Each has curly wrought-iron beds and curtain rails, Moroccan silverware, cream-painted wooden furniture and dark-metal bedside lanterns with clear glass. Floors are tiled in creamy stone; walls bear big black-edged mirrors and arty sepia photographs.

Bathrooms are reasonably sized and similarly stylish, with pale tiling, more honey-coloured stone and good showers (or tubs, in the suites). Own-name toiletries in big bottles and small square-cornered ribbon-tied soaps (coconut and camomile) provide delicate scents, while silk appliqué decorates the fluffy white towels.

There are 29 rooms of various shapes and sizes. The 2 Suites are huge - 4 times the size of a Classic room in fact!- and sleep 3 in comfort. There’s also a Junior Suite that’ll take 3-4. Suites all have bathtubs, as does one of the roomy Superiors. All except the Classic rooms have vaulted roofs, and some have romantic four-poster-style wrought-iron beds, these are the rooms worth splashing out on.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Tv
  • WiFi

Eating

You can eat outside, under rush matting that slices the sunlight, or in an elegant vaulted room. Once housing cattle, today it’s enchanting, with fresh flowers, silver cutlery and Moroccan mats on white-painted tables, candlelit at night and very romantic. Produce is local and fresh, with local specialities on the set menu.

The ample breakfast buffet includes choice of coffees, fresh fruit (you can ask for fruit salad), yoghurt, cereals, bread, cold meats, cheeses and homemade seed cake, as well as Pugliese traditional friselli - dried bread that you sprinkle with water, then load with tomato salad.

Lunch (best ordered in advance) is another buffet with a spread of colourful dishes including Pugliese specialties like orecchiette (ear-shaped pasta), freshly made flans, salads and dishes from other regions of Italy.

Dinner is a set menu, which also needs to be pre-booked. Expect beautifully light antipasti, delicate pasta and risotto, followed by a second course of meat and contorni, all using seasonal local produce. Delicious as it was, we did find the choice a bit limited and unclear, and quite pricey - see Rates. The wine list offers a good selection of mainly local wines.

Coffees and sandwiches are pricey too, but free bar snacks (aperitifi) are served in the early evening until around 8pm.

Features include:

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

Activities

  • Wander and windowshop around the pretty town and buzzing summer resort of Otranto, with its lively bars, restaurants and squat Aragonese castle, built after the Turkish invasion, overlooking the port
  • Visit Otranto’s cathedral : fantastic 12th-century floor mosaics and kid-pleasing remains (gruesome piles of skulls and bones) dating from the Sack of Otranto in 1480, when Turks attacked the city and massacred around 800 inhabitants
  • Explore the Salentine peninsula, the heel of Italy’s boot: a rugged coastline with sandy shores and once-Greek towns, whose elder generations speak a muddle of Greek and Italian; drive on to the bleak land’s-end where Adriatic and Ionian seas meet, at Santa Maria di Leuca
  • Bask on some of Puglia’s best beaches, with white sand and powder-blue sea: Baia dei Turchi has some wonderfully secluded coves
  • Take an excursion to the pretty walled town of Gallipoli (35km away) on the Ionian coast, ending with a sundowner on the ramparts
  • Take in Lecce on your way down from Brindisi: a glorious treasure, it's packed with Baroque architecture and Roman remains
  • There are occasional cookery and tai chi lessons at the hotel

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Horse-riding
  • Nightlife
  • Scuba diving
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing

Kids

Wall-to-wall white is not ideal for children and Montelauro feels geared more to couples than families. But the direct bedroom-garden access, the sandy beaches and the hulking castle make it quite popular with families, particularly in August, the Italian peak holiday season.

Family friendly accommodation:

Both the Suites and Junior Suites have daybeds which can be used by little ones. The Junior Suites can sleep a family of 4, while Suites can fit one kid. The Classic and Superior rooms can fit an extra bed or baby cot.

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

9/
Rooms
9/
Food
9/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Masseria Montelauro