There are so many lovely boutique hotels in Italy it is difficult to know where to start, from boutique hotels in Tuscany, luxury hotels on the Amalfi Coast, townhouse boutique hotels in Rome and Florence to theatrical boutique hotels in Venice, not forgetting the charming boutique hotels in Umbria, the green heart of Italy. Several trips to Italy are needed to appreciate the diverse landscape, different seasons and variety of regions which are rich in art, culture and mouthwatering gourmet experiences. Many of the new boutique hotel openings, many of which have a clean contemporary feel, in Italy, have recently been in Puglia, a region in southern Italy which you should definitly put on your hit list for 2015.
Boutique hotels in Piedmont
Foodies should head to Piedmont (1 hour 15 minutes from Turin or Milan) home of the truffle and some of Italy's best wine producers. Piedmont is famous for its food, wine and truffles. Truffle hunting in Piedmont starts from mid-September and continues through to mid-November. The Alba Truffle fair, one of the larger ones, runs through October and the smaller ones take place in local medieval towns on the last two Sundays of October and tend to be more enjoyable and fun. La Villa Hotelwas the first boutique hotel to open in Piedmont and it has won many industry awards both online and in international luxury lifestyle magazines. Within an hour of La Villa hotel there is the largest number of gourmet restaurants in the whole of Italy. Wine lovers should head to Le Due Matote, a charming boutique hotel (with a sister property in Turin) with a pretty pool area and a cellar 20 metres below the ground full of some of Italy's best and rarest wines. Villa Pattonois a stunning luxurious boutique hotel between Langhe and Monferrato in Asti. From here you can see for miles across the hills and valleys covered in vineyards. Ca Alfieri al Trenta is a very private boutique hotel with just 4 suites overlooking the Roero hills. This charming Chic Retreat is perfectly positioned to explore the wine region of Piedmont.
Boutique hotels in Florence
Tuscany, neighbouring region to Umbria, still continues to be one of the most popular areas in Italy to visit, not only for the stunning boutique hotels, but also for the breathtaking landscape, pretty hilltop towns (Arezzo is one of our favourites and under an hour from Florence) and delicious food. Fly to Pisa and stay a couple of nights in Florence before heading into the countryside for a relaxing few days by the pool or for a spot of wine tasting. JK Place Florence was the first of a new generation of boutique hotels to open in Florence, over 10 years ago now and it's classic design and exceptional service and management still makes it one of the best small luxury hotels in the heart of Florence. Situated on the Piazza di Santa Maria Novella it is just a few minutes walk from the train station (which has a direct service from Pisa airport) and within easy reach of the museums, shops, bars and restaurants that Florence has become famous for. For something a little more colourful and just a hop and a skip from the Arno book Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni 1, the location of this Chic Retreat is in the name and is a shoppers delight! For the ultimate in service and located in a Florentine Villa near the river, Hotel Regency (sister hotel to Hotel Byron in Rome) has a secret garden and the interiors are filled with antiques and original features making it a favourite for regular visitors to Florence. Via Roma, now pedestrianised is home to the designer shop Luisa Via Roma, Fratelli Rossetti and many other Italian names. If you follow it to the end you will find the world famous Duomo behind which sits boutique hotel Palazzo Niccoliniperfectly located for the San Lorenzo market and in one of the quietest cleanest parts of Florence. For a suite only option near the Uffizi Gallery and the Ponte Vecchio book Palazzo Magnani Feroniwhich serves a magnificent breakfast. For a boutique hotel that is close enough but far enough from the historical centre of Florence opt for the luxurious Hotel Villa sull'Arno, which has a restaurant and outdoor pool and is the ideal boutique hotel choice for those looking for some peace and quiet within walking or biking distance from the shops, restaurants and galleries of Florence. Head for the hills outside Florence and you will come to Il Salviatinoa majestic boutique hotel with views across the city. Luxurious interiors, exceptional service and beautiful surroundings makes this Chic Retreat in Tuscany ideal for honeymooners.
Boutique hotels in Tuscany
Tuscany is a dream for all seasons, well almost all, January and February are rather cold and not the most enjoyable months to stay in the countryside, in fact some boutique hotels in Tuscany (and Umbria) are actually closed for maintenance during this time. September through to November are the months for truffle hunting, May and June for the early summer sun and lush green hills, July and August for summer heat and yellow fields of sunflowers. 'Pasqua' or Easter in Italy is all about the family and can be a great time to go and enjoy the festivals and celebrations with the end of April often bathed in sunshine.
Castello Banfi il Borgois one of the best luxury boutique hotels and wine estates in Tuscany with exquisite interiors and a team of wonderful staff, couples will feel cocooned and families well looked after. High on the hillside near Montalcino and just 12 miles from Brunello, this gourmet Chic Retreat comes as close to Tuscan perfection as you can get with stunning views, beautiful interiors and producers of some of the best wine in Tuscany. Not far away is La Bandita, a more contemporary boutique hotel that can also be taken over exclusively and whose charming owners recently opened La Bandita Townhousein the heart of Pienza, a Tuscan town famous for its Pecorino cheese. Borgo Santo Pietrois one of our all time favourite luxury boutique hotels in Tuscany and is ideal for families (complete with children's playground and trampoline), friends and couples. Choose a room in the main house or one of the large garden suites which have more privacy and their own garden. Just 1 hour from Florence or Pisa airports and for a really family-friendly self catering choice book Barbialla Nuovawhich is surrounded by 1200 acres of organic land and home to the famous white truffle. Visit in the autumn and join in the truffle hunting and enjoy the 15 miles of walking and mountain biking paths. At Borgo Pignanoanything goes; you can choose to take it over for yourself and friends or simply book a suite, an apartment or your very own little 'casa'. Cooking classes, mountain biking, truffly hunting, fishing, golf, billiards, circus arts, you name it you can do it. Tuscan towns to visit during your stay should definitely include Siena, Pienza and Montalcino (wine lovers will adore the Rosso di Montalcino and any order placed from any of the enotecas can be shipped back home).
Boutique hotels in Umbria
Known as the greenest region of Italy, Umbria's countryside is filled with olive groves, vineyards and fields of sunflowers. Most of the boutique hotels in Umbria are a 2 hour drive from Florence or Rome airport but many are serviced by Perugia airport which is less than an hour's drive from most of our recommended boutique hotels in Umbria. These include the magnificent Castello di Petroia, a castle and estate that dates back to the 9th-century and agriturismo (a rustic version of a boutique hotel and usually a working farm) Relais Cassamassima which is just 15 minutes from the historic centre of Perugia. Between Perugia and Gubbio Locanda del Gallois a 10 room privately owned boutique hotel with a sun-kissed pool nestling on the hillside. La Cuccagna isn't far away and alongside its 4 boutique hotel rooms there is a charming self-catering apartment for two and new for 2014 is La Cisterna a detached contemporary hideaway for up to a family of 4.
Boutique hotels in Rome
The Eternal City is probably the city with the best selection of boutique hotels in Italy. Luxury, contemporary, classic, large and small, the variety of boutique hotel options covers every budget, style and occasion whether travelling for business or pleasure. Whichever hotel you choose to stay in there is no need to hire a car as it is easy to navigate Rome by foot or a quick taxi ride, however do allow plenty of time when returning to the airport as the traffic out of Rome can be notoriously bad.
JK Place Rome is one of our favourite luxury boutique hotels in Rome with one of the best Managers around. We challenge anyone not to fall in love with the style (another design hit by Michele Bonan), staff and service. Newly opened and sister hotel to JK Place Florence and JK Place Capri this 30 room hotel located just off Via Condotti is ideally positioned for some of the best bars, restaurants and shops that Rome has to offer. Certainly not the cheapest boutique hotel option, but definitely one of the best. You can't get closer to Piazza di Spagna than boutique hotel option PiazzadiSpagna9which is a new, modern Chic Retreat with 6 contemporary rooms and a constantly evolving art gallery on its walls. Looking right over Piazza di Spagna this is the perfect place for those wanting to be at the heart of the action and a stone's throw from some of the best designer boutiques in Rome. If you are on a budget, but still want to stay in the centre then Casa Howard Guesthouse Rome is the perfect choice as it is close to the Spanish Steps and won't break the bank. Crossing Condottiis a chic townhouse hotel just 50 metres from the Spanish Steps and a few minutes walk from the Pantheon and Piazza del Popolo. The 6 luxury suites at Gigli d'Oro Suite near Piazza Navona are a popular choice for couples looking for privacy and it is surrounded by art galleries, artisan shops and speciality food shops. Our favourite new opening in 2015 is Casacauwhich is the perfect alternative to a boutique hotel near the Fontana di Trevi where you can live like a local. Its 5 stunning apartments can be found in a restored 17th-century building and features include terraces, saunas and Jacuzzi baths. Boutique hotels in Venice
Venice is full of small boutique hotels, wonderful shops and some great restaurants. Ca Maria Adeleis the perfect boutique hotel choice for romance with its rich colours and theatrical atmosphere. For a stunning gourmet experience with a more contemporary take on design then look no further than Venissaa boutique hotel with a Michelin star restaurant, can be found on an island just half an hour by boat from the historical centre of Venice. For larger, more traditional rooms luxury boutique hotel Liassidi Palacecan be found in the Castello district just a few steps from St Mark's Square.
Boutique hotels and hip hideaways in Puglia
The last few years have seen the opening of quite a few new boutique hotels in Puglia, not surprisingly as it is in the southern tip of Italy with some of the longest hours of sunshine in the country. Furnirussi Tenuta is the newest boutique hotel to open in Puglia (late 2014). Surrounded by the largest organic plantation in Europe this contemporary chic hotel is hidden amidst 4500 fig trees. Just 45 minutes from Brindisi airport it is the perfect hip hideaway for a short break, some pampering and sunshine. Masseria Ceratonia is another stunning boutique hotel in Puglia with just 7 suites close to the sea where you can enjoy a night on the hotel's luxury one bedroom boat. The original boutique hotel opening of course was Villa Magnoliaand it is still one of our favourite places to go for an authentic Italian experience with fantastic food and wine and wonderful hospitality. Ten minutes from the Adriatic coast is the unpretentious boutique hotel Borgo San Marco, perfect for golfers as there are a couple of courses nearby. Artists and writers come to stay here time and time again to find their inspiration.
Boutique hotels in Sicily
La Bella Sicilia is such a beautiful place to visit with so many places to see that 5 days should be your minimum stay. Fly into Catania, hire a car and head south to the working olive oil estate Azienda Agricola di Mandranovafor a couple of days to relax and unwind. Then head to Mount Etna to stay at the very chic boutique hotel Monaci delle Terre Nereand finish up in the stunning town of Taormina and stay at either Hotel Villa Carlottaor sister boutique hotel (which is a little more private and romantic, but no pool) Hotel Villa Ducale, both beautifully run and managed and in a perfect position to explore the town. You might want to stay a night or two in the ancient town of Modica where a great self-catering alternative to a boutique hotel is 2 bedroom Casa Kimiya. If time is on your hands and you are have the luxury of more than 5 days then hop over by boat to Favignana, a tiny island to the west of Sicily where the waters are crystal clear and the pace of every day life chilled and laid back. Relax at La Dimora dell'Olivastroa simple, yet stylish boutique hotel with just 6 suites and hire a scooter or bicycle to explore the island and head to the sea.
Boutique hotels on the Amalfi Coast
TheAmalfi Coastis one of Lulu's favourite areas of Italy to visit. When it comes to boutique hotels on the Amalfi Coast there are of course the grand 5 star luxury hotels which are magnificent in their own way and then there are some stylish small boutique hotels with charm and character. Positano is a must-visit town and is really the focal point of the Amalfi Coast with a real buzz during the summer months (July and August can be pretty busy!); it has plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars and some gorgeous boutiques to damage your wallet! Stay a short car (or complimentary shuttle) ride away from the town at Casa Angelinaa stunning all-white hotel sitting on the cliff a few hundred steps above the beach (there is a lift). The food is divine (one of the best breakfasts we have ever had), the setting glorious and the staff and service is exceptional. Il Cannitohas just 4 rooms and is clost to Paestum and the Cilento seaside (just 10 minutes away). This hip hideaway with restaurant is a real retreat from city life and has a lovely swimming pool with views across the hills towards the sea.
Capri and Ischia
If you plan to visit for more than a week (and if budget allows) there is no better luxury boutique hotel than JK Place Caprion the island of Capri which is just a short ferry ride from Naples. This multi award-winning stunner has everything from good looks, great character, style and grace. Not to be missed. Another excellent island boutique hotel choice is Mezzatore Resort and Spaon the isle of Ischia which is a scenic 2 hours by boat from Naples. Spa lovers, honeymooners, couples, friends and families will love this all-rounder complete with pool, tennis court, thermal spa and choice of restaurants.
RECOMMENDED BOUTIQUE HOTELS IN ITALY
CASTELLO BANFI IL BORGO
Castello Banfi il Borgo is a luxury boutique hotel on an award-winning winery & vineyard in Brunello, Tuscany. At stay here is all about fine wine and great food in a stunning castle setting where you can relax by the pool or enjoy some pampering in the spa.
Villa Fontelunga is a boutique hotel in Tuscany, which stands elegantly on the edge of the Val di Chiana. The luxurious Chic Retreat has expansive views towards the city of Cortona and its mountains beyond.