Palazzo Guglielmo

Vignacastrisi, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Book from £103 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
  • 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.

A local speciality that’s well worth trying is the substantial sandwich known as the puccia. Expect a large roll of freshly baked crusty bread, studded with olives and packed with salami, cheese, ham, mozzarella and tomatoes.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Romantic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13
  • Restaurant and bar (open every day).
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • 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.

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
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • 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
  • 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
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

This is a great place to stay with kids, with an inviting (if unfenced) 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).

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). 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.

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.

Distances:

  • 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 17 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

We absolutely loved our time at Palazzo Guglielmo. It's a gem of a place made particularly special by Christian and Francesca who we just can't praise highly enough for their welcome, kindness and efficiency (thank you again both of you for making this a really special holiday). Special mention too for Cristina and her wonderful cooking (and very special birthday cake) and in fact the whole team at the Palazzo. We stayed in suite Tito, which was perfect for our family of 4, and then in the huge suite Sonia. Tito is charming and feels central in the palazzo, a few steps from pool, restaurant etc. with a small garden with loungers. Sonia also lovely, less intimate, a bit more detached and we found the air conditioning less effective. No private outside space but it gives easy access to the peaceful roof terrace for sunbathing and hot/cool tub. Great massages. Breakfasts are absolutely delicious. Lovely to be able to have afternoon tea as well. Lunch menu good and good value but if you're staying a while you'll want to eat out for variety. Restaurant food was also very good but we sometimes found the service a bit less welcoming than anywhere else in the Palazzo. Locally, we particularly enjoyed meals at 37 Nodi in Castro and Taverna del Porto in Tricase Porto. Otranto makes a good day out. La Grotta Verde (Andrano) is beautiful if crowded by mid-morning, fun swimming in Castro Marina (5 min. drive or c. 45 min. nice walk from the hotel). Baia Dei Turchi is a beautiful beach but we found it much too crowded and wouldn't go again in high season. The sea everywhere along the coast is beautifully clear - best to be out early as beaches get very crowded. This was a wonderful, restful escape. We loved it, as did our two teenagers. At the end of a holiday we often say perhaps we'll go back - this time we definitely will. Thank you to everyone at Palazzo Guglielmo.

9/10,

Palazzo Guglielmo is a beautiful and rare gem... we were warmly welcomed by Francesca and Christian and made to feel totally at home and relaxed. We savoured every moment and immersed ourselves in all the many wonderful aspects of this special place. From the lovely breakfast served by the always cheerful Christina and her friends to nightcaps in the garden. We hope to be back many times.

10/10,

A beautifully restored palazzo right in the middle of this village. A perfect base if you want to explore the little 18thC villages off the Solento peninsular that are right off the tourist trail. It is an incredibly calm place and the service is exemplary. There is a real nurturing, family ethos from small team who work here, from the gardener who rakes the white gravel paths every morning to Christina and Rosa who bake delicious cakes that turn up throughout the day, through to front of house where Francesca, in particular, was outstanding and went way beyond the call of duty to look after us. We had a particularly lovely room, Vittorio, which has a plunge pool which you share with the neighbouring room (which we enjoyed but made it hard to be really private). The palazzo is built around an old lemon grove which provides lots of little places to sit and read. While all the little hideaways for sunbathing/bathing/eating are interconnected It is quite a complex space and almost impossible for the photos here to explain it or do it justice. While young children are provided for, this place is much more suited to older families and couples.

10/10,

A beautiful destination with genuinely proud and enthusiastic staff. Great stay.

10/10,

We loved Palazzo Guglielmo

10/10,

The hotel grounds and layout is very pretty and staff were really lovely. The pool is small and we headed out to nearby towns and beaches most days. Bathrooms are in need of an upgrade but overall it’s a nice hotel that has some unique elements. Complimentary cake and tea was a welcome touch after sightseeing

9/10,

The hotel was wonderful. Breakfast was exceptional, service was fantastic, staff were lovely and the gardens were fabulous. Loved our room with plunge pool. Hotel cat was gorgeous. Restaurant was pretty good but we preferred
the restaurant Osteria degli Ulivi in the village. What a fantastic experience.

10/10,

We had a great time - the hotel surroundings and gardens are lovely...it's in a quiet village location but very accessible to the coast and some interesting sites. Super-friendly staff. I have some food allergies and they were extremely helpful. Our eight year old daughter loved the pool and jacuzzi. We'd love to return...

10/10,

Excellent service and real local feel. Loved it.

10/10,

A truly delightful hotel in an old palazzo which has been converted and restored with great care and good taste, The gardens are lovely, with lots of places to sit and read, or enjoy a drink. The staff are wonderfully friendly and knowledgeable and added hugely to our enjoyment of our stay.

10/10,

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