“A magical and memorable hotel in a historic mansion, hidden among fragranced gardens in a small town near the Salentine coast”
The 2 Suites and 5 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 2 Suites, Simenon and Fante, 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.
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 2 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.
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 with dining spaces.
Lunch and dinner (available Monday-Saturday) are served on candlelit tables by the palazzo’s pool (book in advance). The chef cooks typical regional seafood, pasta and meat - perhaps orechiette (little ear-shaped pasta) with tomato sauce and meatballs, or veal roulade with grilled vegetables and Pecorino cheese. If you want you can join a cooking class prior to the Friday evening meal and learn how to recreate some of the dishes (an additional charge applies for this).
If you want to eat out, there are several appealing restaurants in Vignacastrisi, ranging from basic pizzerias to more formal places. In particular, Palazzo Guglielmo's owners also run La Casa dell'Angelo, a fresh seafood restaurant nestled just next door to the hotel. We're yet to visited, but the shaded terrace looks enchanting. 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.
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.
The Gran Suite sleeps up to 6 in 2 double room and a twin, while Casa Margherita sleeps 4; both have kitchens for self-catering. The spacious Double Rooms are good for families (all can fit a rollaway bed or baby cot), and the Suites also have living rooms with daybeds that can be made up as single beds. All rooms have bathtubs and showers.
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