The editors' favorite hotels and resorts of all time.
Originally Appeared on Condé Nast Traveler
Start us off with the basics: What's the vibe of this place?
Even prettier now than when it opened in 2009 as the prettiest hotel in the Mediterranean. The plants and vines have grown, the tufu limestone has mellowed, the staff have bedded in, and the feel that this is a genuine Puglian village (even though it was built entirely from scratch) has been sealed. It's just dreamy. At night, rosemary, jasmine, and lemon scents the air and a galaxy of lanterns light the way to the bar.
Lovely. So what's the story behind the place?
A family business of the highest order, handed down from mother to son. The Melpignanos also own nearby San Domenico (with a wonderful thalasso spa), Masseria Cimino (a perfectly quiet bolthole for a grown-up break), and Masseria Le Carrube (where the vegan restaurant is stellar). But Borgo Egnazia steals the show.
How so? What are the rooms like?
Soaring and elegant, cool stone underfoot, mini posies of dried lavender on shelves, huge linen cushions, and sun-trap terraces. Everything is floaty white. With layers of creamy beige. Overlapping rugs on chairs and cozy corners where you can retreat. They are retreats in themselves: some, the Casetta townhouses at Il Borgo, with their own little kitchens; others, the villas, with swimming pools, or sea views from the rooftops.
How's the dining?
The restaurants, La Frasca and Due Camini (freshly Michelin-starred), are smart, with the most covetable traditional Italian splatterware plates and bowls. Ingredients straight from the fields you see around you: broccoli, tomatoes, eggplants, little ear-shaped orecchiette made with the local semolina flour, very good olive oil. Da Frisella is a godsend for children, for help-yourself please-all bowls of pasta and plenty of coloring activities.
What are the staff members like?
All sweetness and light, ushering you to another delicious nook to sit in while they mix the strongest G&T or prepare your bill for check out. They are proud Puglians, relishing the chance to show off their perfect patch of Italy—cycling, riding, or even in the tuk-tuk to the nearby ruins for a picnic lunch.
How would you describe your fellow visitors?
Turbo chic. The quickest way to fit in is to buy a whole new wardrobe at the Bottega Egnazia boutique, where you can double the cost of your holiday in an instant with Nannacay baskets, Innikachoo floaty numbers, Allagiulia velvet espadrilles, and dressmaker Marta Ferri’s bespoke and beautiful dresses (Margherita Missoni is a huge fan).
And what's the surrounding area like?
Fields of immaculately tended vegetables growing in regimented lines, soon to end up on your plate for supper. And the sea is only a few moments away, as is the hotel’s beach club Cala Masciola—terribly smart, with thick cushioned sun beds, plus huge lobsters in tanks to select for lunch.
Club aside, are there any other facilities we should check out while staying here?
The spa is an almost sepulchral space, where therapists waft around barefoot in taupe dresses. The massage is done with olive oil, the facial starts with fresh sage leaves placed over your eyes. Nothing branded, or imported, it is earthy, rooted, as special a space as the hotel itself, with fires crackling in the cooler months and Roman baths. There’s a kids’ club that is drop-in whenever you like, which includes activities such as cooking classes (focaccia, pasta), puppet shows, and trips to see the horses and donkeys at the farm.
Wrap it up for us—what's the real draw here?
How the place manages to be so intrinsically child-friendly yet also so mind-blowingly romantic is a feat of design brilliance. Wildly pretty during the day when the harsh Puglian sun hits the mellow tufu limestone buildings and the shocking bright bougainvillea, and even lovelier at night when the entire place is lit by citronella lanterns, smoking into the warm air.