Palazzo Guglielmo

Vignacastrisi, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy
Book from Book from £112 per night

A magical and memorable hotel in a historic mansion, hidden among fragranced gardens in a small town near the Salentine coast

Facing an impressively fortified church, Palazzo Guglielmo occupies Vignacastrisi’s former mayoral mansion. Its huge doors open onto the small town’s main piazza and harbour a wonderful secret: a rambling, high-ceilinged palace, complete with a vast orange grove and a courtyard garden that’s shaded by tangled fruit trees and dotted with hammocks and outdoor sofas.

Friendly and helpful owner Mauro has converted the house into a very special hotel, with stylish rooms and 2 self-catering hideaways and a wonderfully laid-back feel. It’s ideal not only for couples but for families too, and even those with young children will feel relaxed here. The pool is flanked by orange trees, sunflowers, birds-of-paradise, mint and lavender, all wafting scent over the water as you swim. There are elegant salons, a roof terrace with a bubbling hot tub, and plenty of nooks where you can lose yourself in a holiday read. Delicious local produce is served up at lunch, dinner and the plentiful breakfast buffet, and there’s a choice of restaurants within walking distance. Make use of the free bikes and potter around Puglia’s rolling landscapes, or head to the dramatic seacliffs and turquoise waters of the Salentine coast, just 3km away.

Highs

  • A wonderful secret-garden feel; you’ll think you’ve stumbled across a long-lost treasure
  • Pretty Vignacastrisi, with its unspoilt, stuck-in-time ambiance, is ideally placed for exploring the Salento peninsula, yet well away from crowded resort towns such as Otranto
  • There are often cooking classes, wine tastings and poolside barbecues - ideal for foodies
  • Spacious rooms, all with bathtubs, and many with beautiful arched ceilings and sitting rooms
  • A warm welcome combined with fantastic attention to detail (homemade cakes at breakfast, stacks of books on the area, carefully chosen antiques)

Lows

  • With only 10 sunbeds to lounge on, there isn't enough space for everyone by the pool when the hotel is full (their delightful sister property Palazzo Circolone in nearby Poggiardo has a more spacious pool setup)
  • The local coastline is rocky; you’ll have to head towards Otranto (30km away) for sandy beaches, though you can swim nearby
  • No in-room TVs - a conscious decision to avoid disturbing the tranquillity (but there is in-room WiFi)

Best time to go

Puglia’s finest hour is spring (May-June), when the weather’s perfect, wild flowers run riot and the beaches and towns are uncrowded. September is also lovely and balmy. High season runs from July to August, when the region is packed and very hot, but there are music and food festivals every night in towns across the area. The hotel is normally closed from December to March.

Our top tips

If you want you can join a cooking class prior to your evening meal, and learn how to recreate some classic Salento dishes (an additional charge applies for this). A barbecue is also offered twice a week in the gardens.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 16 rooms
  • Restaurant and bar (open every day).
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: November to end of March
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
  • Cooking classes
  • Vespa scooter to hire
Room:

Rooms

The main hotel building holds the ground-floor Double Rooms and Suites, plus the first-floor Gran Suite; outside in the garden, Casa Margherita feels more like a private house, spread over 2 floors. Décor is pale, with whitewashed walls and beautiful local antiques, such as pretty wooden dressers or colourful inlaid trunks.

All Double Rooms and Suites are handsomely large, with high ceilings and seating areas. Their doors open onto a sun-dappled communal courtyard, where you’ll find a small table and a couple of chairs per room. We particularly liked the fantastic arched ceilings and exposed stonework of the Simenon and Fante Suites, and the Bukowsky Double Room. Suite Lucia has its own gated private garden.

Upstairs, the 3-bedroom Gran Suite is huge, if a little understated décor-wise. Expect high ceilings, grand spaces and lots of marble and antiques. On a practical level, it also has a handy kitchen-dining area - great for families.

Casa Margherita is located on the other side of the pool from the main hotel, so it feels like a private 2-storey house. It comes with a spacious vaulted-ceilinged kitchen-diner and lounge, plus 2 bedrooms upstairs. Again, it’s great for families - you get a private garden which leads onto the communal orange grove and pool.

Bathrooms come in various shapes and sizes, but are generally large and mosaic-tiled.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Extra beds
  • Family friendly
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

Palazzo Guglielmo’s traditional Mediterranean-inspired restaurant, Casa dell’Angelo, sits next door and is open every day for lunch and dinner. Being so close to the sea, the menu is very fish focused. We enjoyed some very good tuna tartar – huge chunks of fresh tuna, aubergine and rice – and a tasty fried fish main. Packed with locals and tourists alike, it had a nice buzzy vibe and a huge well-priced wine list.

We ate breakfast in the cosy vaulted lounge area, but the tables and chairs overlooking the pool are a great spot for the summer months.The beautifully presented buffet spread features mountains of fresh fruit, together with moreish home-baked cakes, including exceedingly popular jam tarts. The Gran Suite and Casa Margherita also have their own kitchens with dining spaces.

The lounge also has an honesty bar where you can help yourself to soft drinks, beer and water whenever you feel like it.

If you want to eat out, there are several appealing Vignacastrisi restaurants, ranging from basic pizzerias to more formal places. Equally, it's worth travelling a little further afield to one of Puglia’s many rural agriturismi (farm restaurants).

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Family friendly
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Chill out beside the gorgeous pool in the shady garden, head to the wellness spa in the ancient cellar or bubble away in the rooftop hot tub
  • Explore the lovely little town of Vignacastrisi, enjoying the slow pace of life and the grace of its rural architecture, which includes the fortress-like Church of the Holy Virgin Mary, dating from the 16th century. The hotel can help arrange Vespa hire, too
  • Swim in clear turquoise water from the rocky beaches at Castro Marina (3km away), Santa Cesarea Terme (6km away) and Adrano Marina (9km away). If you want white sand, head to the beaches near Otranto; one of the nicest is I Due Mori, close to the Alimini Lakes (a 30km drive)
  • Borrow the hotel's bicycles and peddle the beautifully windswept coastal road to Otranto. There are no beaches as such – just rock and some restaurants - but it's the most south easterly point in Italy
  • Wander the winding lanes, castle and ancient walls of the charming coastal town of Otranto, which gets full to bursting in July and August but is pretty quiet for the rest of the year
  • Take part in the cooking courses, wine tastings and barbecues that are often held at Palazzo Guiglielmo
  • Discover the nearby Grotta dei Cervi, with its amazing post-paleolithic rock paintings and geological formations
  • Enjoy a boat tour along the dramatically craggy coast, with its rollercoaster cliffs and fortified towers; private boat hire, with or without a skipper, can be arranged via reception

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is a great place to stay with kids, with an inviting (if unfenced) main pool plus a small kids pool, a relaxed feel and a kids toy area in the garden. There are plenty of activities along the coast for kids, too (but the nearest sandy beaches are 30km away towards Otranto).

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

The Gran Suite (sleeps 6) has 2 double rooms and a twin. The Suites have 2 rooms: a double bedroom and a lounge (2 daybeds). Suite Lucia comes with its own gated private garden. All Double Rooms are spacious enough to fit a rollaway bed or baby cot; Carmelo and Vittoria feature a lockable interconnecting door ideal for children. All rooms have bathtubs and showers.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Kids pool
  • Play area in the garden

Families Should Know:

The pool is unfenced. Although there are restaurants within walking distance, the pavements along the roads leave much to be desired and aren't safe to navigate with a buggy. You will need a car to access beaches

Distances:

  • Airport: 1.5 hrs (Brindisi)
  • Shops: 1 minute
Kid Friendly:

Location

Palazzo Guglielmo is on Vignacastrisi's main square, a small Puglian town. It's just inland from the Salento peninsula coast, southern Italy. It’s near Otranto (30km) and Lecce (45km).

By Air
The nearest airports are Brindisi (95km / 1.5 hours) and Bari (215km / 2.5 hours). Both have plenty of links with other cities in Italy and Europe. Transfers are available on request, but we'd recommend hiring a car to make the most of the area. The hotel has a private parking area.

By Train
If you plan on staying put in Vignacastrisi, you can travel by train via Lecce to Spongano (5km from the hotel), and take a taxi from there.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you make a booking through i-escape.com.

Read our guide to getting to Italy and getting around

Airports:

  • Brindisi 95.0 km BDS
  • Bari 215.0 km BRI

Other:

  • Beach 3.0 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.2 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 3 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
10/10
Food
10/10
Service
10/10
Value
10/10
Overall

We adored this hotel & the whole area. Hard to praise it highly enough but the words that stand out are kindness, generosity & beauty. The staff were just wonderful - Christina, queen of the breakfasts, put on the best breakfast spread I’ve ever seen & when she realised I have a food intolerance every day made a special cake which I could eat - she cooks the cakes herself. Amazing. She also does free pasta making lessons. The hotel is wonderfully restored not in a swanky way but entirely appropriately. The restaurant is fabulous & the director ran wine tasting in which he shared his knowledge & enthusiasm rather than trying to sell you wine. There is a fantastic range of wine by the glass (5 or 6 euros) so you can follow through at your leisure. There are very cheap but excellent restaurants in the village too - a bit hidden away but the hotel room has a map. The whole area is glorious & really interesting. Just planning how we can be back…

10/10,

Great place, wonderful accommodation and lovely staff. Vignacastrisi is a good location to explore the Salento region. A car is absolutely needed to get around and be aware that the hotel is located in a village, not a secluded place out in country. You are bound to hear some traffic and other village noises.

10/10,

A very special place full of history- there’s a real wow factor when you enter which the photos don’t do justice to. Overall a relaxed vibe and wonderful caring staff who were very helpful - nothing was too much trouble. Magnificent breakfast spread and service run by the charming Christina, and a lovely attached and reasonably priced restaurant. Simple airy bedrooms (we had a suite with the most enormous bathroom of anywhere I’ve stayed) but it’s the outside areas and gardens that really makes the place, with lots of spots to lounge around during the day without feeling on top of other guests. We stayed in early May (and in nearby Castro, much wasn’t yet open) but we didn’t mind- there are plenty of small towns and villages within a very short drive to visit. It all felt quite untouristy so (if that’s what you’re into) it’s perfect and magnificent Lecce is only half an hour away. Just be organised enough to ask the staff to book a table somewhere for lunch and dinner if you don’t want to eat in. A definite 10 out of 10.

10/10,

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