Fairy tale trulli houses, masserie farmhouses, boutique cave hotels, volcanic vineyard villas and converted monasteries – the south of Italy is packed with weird and wonderful hotels. Best of all, they tend to be tiny boutique set-ups with gorgeously decorated rooms and spades of character.
Here are some of our favourites…
Sextantio Le Grotta della Civita, Matera
Sextantio Le Grotta della Civita is the ultimate introduction to Basilicata. It offers 18 converted sassi – just a few of a cluster of UNESCO-listed caves that make up the atmospheric hilltop town of Matera.
Once upon a time, they were traditional cave dwellings; these days, they’re gradually being transformed into boutique hotels and candle-lit restaurants.
Capofaro Malvasia & Resort, Salina
Would-be sommeliers will love the Capofaro Malvasia & Resort. This hotel is plonked right in the middle of a coastal estate draped in the Malvasia vineyards that are Salina’s speciality. Its seaside spot also means that you get sweeping views of the rest of the Aeolian Islands.
Relais Santa Anastasia, Sicily
The Relais Santa Anastasia is a retired Benedictine abbey that dates back to 1100. It sits in Madonie Regional Natural Park in Sicily, so expect a rural setting knitted together by vineyards. The facilities are all-modern, though, with rooms fitted out with hot tubs and flatscreen TVs.
Trulli Soave, Puglia
They’re surprisingly spacious, filled with an eclectic mix of shabby-chic farmhouse furniture and handwoven lace linens. Kitchenettes are on hand, or you could hop between the surrounding converted trulli that now double as stylish wine bars and cafés.
Masseria Montelauro, Puglia
Masseria Montelauro is a traditional 19th-century farmhouse that reflects Puglia’s patchwork history. North African touches like copper lanterns and filigreed silverware decorate the restaurant and courtyard, plus there’s an in-house orchard.
Villa Athena, Sicily
The best thing about the Villa Athena? It’s the only hotel in Valley of the Temples archaeological park, so you’re practically a stone’s throw away from Doric gems like the Parthenon-like main temple, Concordia. You can even get there via the hotel’s private gate.
Other perks include the 17th-century architecture and a swimming pool surrounded by centuries-old olive groves.