“A medieval mountain hamlet where history and designer fittings meet to create a unique cultural experience”
Staying here is an experience like no other and no detail has been overlooked, from the rosemary soap in the bathroom to the small glass bottle of herb liqueur by your bed.
In 5 rustic homes, once occupied by shepherds, weavers and livestock, and 1 Renaissance-style palazzo, there are hotel rooms with a 'peasant-luxe' style - and no, that's not a contradiction in terms. The spare style of décor is reminiscent of an impoverished past (think arte povera), complete with wool mattresses, hand-woven rugs and hand-made bedspreads (typical of the region); but the Philippe Starck bathrooms, remote-control underfloor heating and WiFi owe more to modern luxury than the middle ages.
There are 27 rooms of varying sizes, including Single rooms and Classic and Superior rooms, which have either kingsize beds or 2 twin beds. Each one is different - some have beamed ceilings, others are vaulted; a few have raised sleeping lofts, cobbled floors, fire places or small sitting areas. Many of the rooms are arranged on 2 or 3 floors of 1 house, most of which have their own lounge (with cosy fireplace and herbal brews) where guests can gather and chat. The bedrooms, however, feel very private - most lead off the hall, via flights of stone steps and heavy wooden doors; each has its own ensuite bathroom - some are open plan with freestanding bathtubs in the rooms and loos tucked behind screens.
Most of the Suites have lounge areas and the Family Suites have 2 bedrooms. If there is a larger group of you staying together, there is the option of booking a whole house to yourselves.
Couples wanting privacy might prefer a Superior room. Some have private entrances from the street, or a sensuously-curved white designer tub on a wooden dais. One has a large balcony overlooking a narrow pedestrian street and views to rear of the hills. If you have your heart set on something specific, be sure to book early and include your request in the enquiry.
A stay in this unique village demands at least 1 meal in the hotel restaurant. Locanda Sotti gli Archi is housed in a separate 16th-century building. The menu has been meticulously designed to use local food and time-honoured recipes.
The traditional peasant fare is done very well indeed, overseen by Niko Romito, the owner of 2-Michelin-starred Ristorante Reale (see below). Expect large plates of pasta, salami, courgette soup with meatballs, lamb stew, pecorino cheese with walnut and honey; and plenty of local crops: chickpeas, spelt, tiny brown lentils, saffron, dill and parsnip.
It’s the kind of food the local men would have eaten after a hard day’s work in the mountains in centuries gone by; never mind that you’ve only had a short, fun day sightseeing and a lot of lounging around, it’s still very tasty (and far tastier than the museum-style food that this description might suggest!). Wash it all down with a glass of ruby red rosehip liqueur - or Montepulciano d'Abruzzo if you're playing safe.
An alternative for dinner, is to eat at the hotel’s own Cantinone. Less formal than the Locanda, this wine bar-cum-café is reminiscent of an Italian country inn - all rough wooden tables arranged around a vast stone fireplace, hung with iron-work and oil lamps. The menu is a simple list of seasonal dishes: rustic bread boards with local cheeses, salami and olives, spelt and fig salad, soups, rabbit stew, or porchetta (a cut of roast pork) with roast potatoes. Breakfast is also served in Cantinone, and includes a buffet of fresh juices, cakes and pastries, breads and jams, cheeses and salamis, and omelettes to order.
Lunch is available from the restaurant and in other small bars and eateries in the village. If you want to go a little further afield, check out Niko Romito’s Ristorante Reale at Castel di Sangro. A 90-minute drive south, the restaurant has 2 Michelin stars, and the scenery en route is breath-taking.
The hotel offers cots, connecting rooms for families and babysitting for a small charge.
Babysitting is available on request (see rates).