Palazzo Guglielmo

Vignacastrisi, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Book from £91 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 Sergio has converted the house into a very special hotel, with 11 stylish rooms, 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 or the hotel's Vespa 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
  • Cooking classes and wine tastings can be arranged on request - 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
  • We haven't viewed Casa Margherita or the Gran Suite yet, but their extra space and kitchens sounds ideal for longer stays

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

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
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 11
  • 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 borrow
Room: Suite - Simenon

Rooms

The 3 Suites and 8 Double Rooms are mostly named after authors (you’ll find stacks of the said author’s books in the appropriate room). All are handsomely large and located on the ground floor, with high ceilings, seating areas and doors opening onto the sun-dappled communal courtyard, where you’ll find a small table and a couple of chairs per room. Décor is pale, with whitewashed walls and some beautiful local antiques, such as pretty wooden dressers or colourful inlaid trunks. We particularly liked the Simenon and Fante Suites, and the Bukowsky Double Room, which have fantastic arched ceilings and exposed stonework.

The Suites are good for families as they have 2 rooms, one with a double bed and the other with 1 or 2 daybeds that can be made up as single beds if needed; Simenon has a wrought-iron four poster with gauzy white drapes, while in Fante the double mattress sits on a sleek stone base. However, all rooms are spacious enough to fit a rollaway bed or baby cot, and Carmelo and Vittoria feature a lockable interconnecting door ideal for children.

Bathrooms come in various shapes and sizes, but are generally large and mosaic-tiled. Camilleri has a claw-foot tub, while Bukowsky has a Jacuzzi. These rooms, together with the 3 Suites, have separate baths and walk-in showers; Etne and Marina have slightly smaller bathrooms, with a tub and overhead shower.

Casa Margherita and Gran Suite have been added more recently, and we’ve haven’t personally viewed them yet. Here the look is slightly more understated but you do get self-catering facilities. Gran Suite is a spread over the first-floor, with 3 bedrooms (2 doubles and a twin) and plenty of living space. Casa Margherita is more private, with outdoor space and 2 double bedrooms. Both would work well for families, friends or those planning a longer stay. The South Room has also been added since our visit, although it's large terrace sounds very tempting.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Terrace
  • WiFi

Eating

The large vaulted lounge and breakfast room that leads from the pool area has an honesty bar where you can help yourself to soft drinks, beer and water whenever you feel like it. This is also where the daily buffet breakfast is served, with additional seating out alongside the pool if you want to start your day in the sunshine. The spread features mountains of fresh fruit, together with moreish home-baked cakes, including exceedingly popular jam tarts. Although breakfast is included in all rates, guests staying in the Gran Suite and Casa Margherita also have their own kitchens with dining spaces.

Palazzo Guglielmo’s traditional Mediterranean inspired restaurant, La Casa dell’ Angelo, is open every day for lunch and dinner. With fresh, organic fish being the protagonist of every dish, the cosy, candlelit restaurant has quickly become a firm favourite for guests and locals, however, we are yet to visit. 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.

If you want to eat out, there are several appealing restaurants in Vignacastrisi, 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) - Montenachiro and Le More come recommended by staff for their rustic Salento cuisine.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Organic produce
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity: Baie dei Turchi

Activities

  • Chill out in the shady garden or the gorgeous pool, or head to the wellness spa in the ancient cellar, where you can wallow in the hot tub or treat yourself to a massage

  • Take part in the pre-dinner cooking courses held at the palazzo on Friday evenings (a small charge applies). Wine tastings can also be arranged

  • 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

  • Borrow one of the palazzo’s bikes and cycle around town and the local countryside. There’s a 125 Vespa scooter for those who want to go at a faster pace

  • 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)

  • Wander around 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

  • Discover the nearby Grotta dei Cervi, with its amazing post-palaeolithic 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, lots of nooks and crannies to explore, and a relaxed feel. There are plenty of activities along the coast for kids, but bear in mind that the nearest sandy beaches are 30km away towards Otranto.

Family friendly accommodation:

The Gran Suite sleeps up to 6 in 2 double rooms and a twin, while Casa Margherita sleeps 4; both have kitchens for self-catering. The spacious Double Rooms all fit a rollaway bed or baby cot, however, there is a lockable interconnecting door between Carmelo and Vittoria, making it perfect for families with children. The Suites have living rooms with daybeds that can be made up as single beds. 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:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 11 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

The hotel and amenities are of a very high standard and the staff couldn't have been friendlier or more helpful. Food at breakfast was first class and dinner good but not quite up to breakfast excellence. We were able to benefit from the opening of the spa during our stay, we were the second guinea pigs and (bar a couple of snagging things which are sure to be sorted out quickly) this will be a welcome addition to the facilities. We were unlucky with the weather, unseasonal thunderstorms and persistent downpours, so unable to use the pool. Luckily there are plenty of dry nooks and crannies to use and the Palazzo is a haven of rest. We hope to return.

9/10, , September 2016

Welcoming staff who are really engaged and are keen on making the guests' stay enjoyable. Fantastic oasis to relax - there are dozens of different spots to lay back and enjoy the peace and quiet from the sofas in the orchard to an oriental carpet on the rooftop. The food both at breakfast and during the fish barbeque we had (offered every Monday I think; Thursdays is meat bbq) were both fantastic. Great place from which to discover the Salento region.

10/10, , June 2016

The breakfasts were fabulous - plenty of variety and everything home-made and delicious. Christina, who looked after us at breakfast was a delight. We ate at the attached restaurant on our first evening and the food was very good. Marco and Mauro were efficient and saw to our every need. The property has beautiful grounds and it would be lovely to return when the weather is warmer and we could take advantage of the outside facilities.The bedroom (Camilleri) was very large but rather sparse and could have done with a large rug by the armchairs. It was very cold but the staff ensured that the heaters were on and extra covers were put on the bed for our second night. The bathroom could do with a proper shower and not just a shower attachment in a very old fashioned free-standing bath with a shower curtain inside it. Also there was nowhere to put shampoo etc.

9/10, , March 2016

Beautiful gardens, friendly staff and obviously investing in the property (spa being built) but need to invest some more in the rooms themselves (or at least in "Carmelo"). Great outdoor seating but room itself basic and unappealing - think we were unlucky in room allocation.

7/10, , October 2015

What an amazing hotel. Tucked away in a rather charming town this Palazzo was truly one of the most enchanting hotels I've ever stayed in. Beautiful setting, that garden with all the lemon and orange trees was divine, and the communal areas and rooms were beautifully decorated with antiques and quirky features. We stayed in Bukowski in the courtyard which had a lovely bed head, and the most enormous jacuzzi bathroom. We didn't eat in the hotel itself but had 2 meals at the Casa dell'Angelo the restaurant they own next door - the food was delicious and great value. Very friendly, helpful staff. The honesty bar was great, and the whole stay was great value for money. We would definitely recommend it to anyone.

10/10, , July 2015

We enjoyed a fantastic family holiday at Palazzo Guglielmo this July. The hotel was welcoming, tranquil and beautifully maintained. The staff were very kind and professional and we highly recommend this hotel for a relaxing holiday.

10/10, , July 2015

Really superb - loved the stay and will be back. Beautiful building wonderful setting and great people.

10/10, , June 2015

Our family had a most wonderful experience at this beautifil hotel. Mauro, Sara and Christina were delightful. Nothing was a problem. The food was amazing and Mauro and Sara were very helpful with guidance to local beaches, restaurants etc. The actual apartment we stayed in (Gran suite) was huge and beautifully maintained and cleaned daily. The other apartments looked just as lovely however given we had three young sons with us we needed the space. We really enjoyed the town it was in. It was authentic and everyone so friendly. Just a three minute drive to the closest beach of Castro which we loved. I would recommend this to anyone going. This is another great place on i-escape. Well done.

10/10, , September 2014

We had a very relaxing 4 days at the hotel. We loved the peace and quiet of the garden and the many public rooms packed with lots of reading material. Mauro and his team could not do enough for us including taking us to Castro Marina for swimming. Christina's cooking was superb and Louis bar next door served the perfect digestif. We can't wait to return next year.

10/10, , September 2014

We stayed in Casa Margherita. Huge two floor apartment great for a family with a private patio. The gardens and pool area are amazing. An enchanted place. Dinner at the agriturismo Le more is a must. Our favorite places were Ponte Ciolo and Aquaviva at marina Marittima seen at night. Only unfortunate thing is the strong musty smell in the living area and even worse in the huge kitchen but we loved the space.

7/10, , June 2014

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Rates for Palazzo Guglielmo