Palazzo Guglielmo

Vignacastrisi, Puglia & Basilicata, Italy Book from Book from £106 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
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 13
  • Restaurant and bar (open every day).
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 1 Dec 2018 - 22 Mar 2019
  • 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 10 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

A wonderfully clam and relaxing place to stay. Spacious and well appointed with lots of choices of places to sit. Two charming cats and a refreshing pool. The quality of the breakfast and fish BBQ were very good indeed. My only comment was that the directions on how to find it on arrival could be better.

9/10,

A fantastic stay & amazing staff. Lovely to arrive where a place is much better than the website does it justice for.

10/10,

Lovely relaxed atmosphere. Delicious and very good value food. The service was also excellent.

10/10,

Palazzo Guglielmo was a real hidden gem. Hidden amongst a small Italian village, we felt like we were experiencing the 'True' Italy. The staff were incredibly kind and generous in their recommendations of where to visit and eat and we felt so at home and comfortable there. The walled garden was stunning, the hot tub was also a very welcome treat and we ate and drank like kings. Cant wait to return.

10/10,

We recently enjoyed a stunning stay at Palazzo Guglielmo. We spent plenty of time relaxing and reading in the beautiful gardens and on the roof terraces and found our room 'Etne' to be airy spacious and comfortable. The hotel staff were lovely, friendly and helpful.
Breakfast was perfect with fresh fruits, gorgeous home made cakes as well as a cold meat/cheese selection. We also enjoyed the hotel's fish and meat BBQ evenings with a vast choice of freshly prepared side dishes. We spent most evenings and enjoyed several lunches at Casa dell'Angelo the adjoining restaurant. The food was excellent with lots of fresh fish options and superb local wines. As the weather was extremely hot we didn't travel as much as anticipated but enjoyed some great lunches in lively Castro Marina. Lecce was architecturally stunning and well worth a visit. We are already planning a return visit with family.

10/10,

Town is very non descript with no other real option except to eat in the hotel restaurant. Pool has no shade at all and is very small. The staff are friendly. The room was cool and airy but had nowhere to sit comfortably.

8/10,

We travelled to Palazzon Guglielmo as a group of 5 girls. We booked the Sonia Suite - and were amazed at how lovely it was. It was perfect for a group, so much space, high ceilings and even a huge kitchen to cook if you wanted too. There was no need for that as breakfast was included and the lovely restaurant in the hotel catered for your every need. The hotel staff were super friendly and helpful - giving us ideas of where to go and what to do during the day - even organising our transport and making reservations for dinner for us. We were thoroughly looked after. It was fantastic value for money - our meal on the first night at the local pizzeria was €7 each! Including wine! Super super time, such a great find - thank you i-escapes
for the recommendation.

10/10,

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,

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,

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,

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