Italy’s newest hotels with gorgeous design and incredible locations
What makes you feel good? I thought a lot about this question the week after I had a new and complete unexpected wisdom tooth removed. (All good, thanks for asking.) For me, the answer is easy. I love Italian hospitality which is one of the main reasons I live in Rome. And I love gorgeous locations, great food and incredible design which Italy has unlimited, whether at home or in the fabulous hotels and locations that make you want to move here.
From north to south, heritage hotels, landmark boutiques, charming villas, dot the landscape like Saracen towers, welcoming beacons ready to take care of your every want and need. Lately, a crop of new and newly renovated properties are opening their doors in the most undeniably amazing locations. You’re going to want to take notes.
Eternally Urban Chic
For me, the urban hotel has to a great lounge, it has to be speak to the future of the city, without forgetting its history. And with that I present the W Rome, whose lounge is living up la dolce vita with sexy design and incredible drinks. I dare you try the daiquiri, and a Sicilian vibe thanks to award-winning chef Ciccio Sultano, who commands Giano, a living room-styled restaurant with a Sicilian flare.)
The lounge sets the vibe for the entire hotel, a gorgeous 162-room venture spread across two art nouveau palazzi in the Via Veneto neighborhood, historically where la dolce vita was born. What I love about the W is that it feels jut right for me and my husband, with its ieri, oggi e domani (“yesterday, today and tomorrow”) design that plays up 1970s Italian glamor. And the location is easy.
Bonus points for the gardens, plunge pool and rooftop bar, which brings back some glitz to the Via Veneto neighborhood. Here’s the secret- the lounge bar’s bathroom is by far the sexiest I’ve ever walked into.
Everything Ferragamo does is perfectly tailored from their shoes and fashion to their extraordinary hospitality, in fact two of my my favourite boutique getaways are Portrait Firenze and Portrait Roma– they define boutique for impeccable style, great location and low room count. It’s about time Ferragamo went to Milan.
Europe’s oldest seminary gets a facelift. The early 17th century complex kept its historic bones with its baroque entrance opening to a nearly one-acre piazza surrounded by a double-colonnaded loggia. Debuting in summer 2022, the sprawling building also houses restaurants, a shopping arcade and more.
This summer, I think I am going to finally commit and return to Capri, an island of lore and love. (Read Sex and Vanity by Kevin Kwan for the intel). The famed, 200-year old Hotel La Palma has decided to reclaim its throne as the most luxe hotel on the island with a complete design refresh. The legendary property keeps its iconic whitewashed walls, and adds 21st century style with frescoes by Roberto Ruspoli in the main ceiling, and interiors by designer Francis Sultana.
Fun fact: Hotel La Palma used to be the artist’s escape, and writers, painters and musicians would relax at the white palace. In return for the love they received, they’d often leave a work oft. Sultana pays homage to the hotel’s yesteryear tradition as an artists’ enclave by subtly decorating the ways with art.
San Domenico Palace (Taormina, Sicily)
Location and history cannot be beat, and San Domenico Palace knows it. Ever since its 1896 opening, everyone who’s anyone has stayed here, including Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, and silver-screen sirens Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich. Precariously perched on Taormina, that gorgeous Greek-Roman city, with Etna behind it and the sea in front, San Domenico is drop dead cinematic. No wonder it’s about to gets its own time on the small screen in season two of HBO’s White Lotus.
But there’s more than meets the eye. Built on the site of a late medieval monastery, San Domenico Palace was converted into a hotel at the turn of the 19th century, only to be rebooted in 2021 by the Four Seasons. Its coveted address literally down the street from Taormina’s Greek theatre, its epic views of the Straights of Messina and Etna make it the hideaway. Not to mention its infinity pool and restaurant helmed by chef Massimo Mantarro.
Villa Igiea (Palermo, Sicily)
There is nothing quite like Palermo – it’s got grit and savoir-faire at the same time. A few years back, Darius and I overnighted at the centurion property Villa Igiea. It was gorgeous – an art nouveau palazzo overlooking the gulf, that was showing its years in a very Ms. Havisham way, which is why I was so excited when the family-run Rocco Forte Hotel Group took over the city’s yesteryear icon.
After a full stop, Villa Igiea is showing of a tip-to-tail renovation that includes a revamp of all interiors by Rocco Forte design stalwart Olga Polizzi, two stunning terrace restaurants under the watchful eye of chef Fulvio Pierangelini, and a heavenly spa decorated with hand-painted tiles and a menu of body treatments curated by Irene Forte Skincare.
Pro Tip: I interviewed Irene for my podcast where she shared how Sicily is the inspiration for all of her creams and treatments.
Il San Corrado di Noto (Sicily)
Tucked in Sicily’s Val di Noto, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the historic former masseria(“farmhouse”) once was owned by Prince Nicolaci. The property is a restored 18th-century manor with 26 suites and eight pool villas. Wellness is a focus: Il San Corrado provides a spa, a tennis court and two swimming pools, including a vast 100-meter-long heated pool — one of Sicily’s largest.
Bonus: Noto is one of the jewel cities of lavish architecture known as Sicilian Baroque, and it is home to Corrado Assenza’s Caffe Sicilia, a haven of the most delicious pastries in Europe. Deep dive into his sweet confections on Chef’s Table (Netflix).
Located in Venice’s Arsenale neighborhood, the sumptuous Ca di Did is Biennale central – both in location and design Spanish architect Patricia Urquiola dreamed up 66 sumptuous suites and rooms with beautiful, rich hues and selected pieces by Venetian artists, from Murano glass to contemporary furniture. The idea is that Venice on its mind, and Ca di Dio wants you to focus on local community, sustainability and craftsmanship.
Its VERO restaurant stays true to Ca di Dio’s ethos with vegetables straight from the garden to create Venice-inspired dishes. Amenities include a spa and wellness area, and a sultry Alchemia Bar and Essentia Restaurant.
Castello di Reschio (Umbria)
It is a true-life fairytale — a medieval castle and fiefdom in the verdant landscape of Umbria. The Bolza family has been restoring the estate for nearly 30 years, and Count Benedikt Bolza has transformed the castle into a striking 36-room hotel with a blissful spa and all the delightful trappings, like a salt-water plunge pool and hammam. Reschio’s décor cross-pollinates traditional heritage architecture such as original stone walls with modern furniture and pieces from Umbrian artisans.
A few years back, our friends actually owned one of the villas. Yes, it was insane and so is the 3,700-acre backyard -the source for everything from the organic garden, vineyards and apiaries to all kinds of outdoor activities like falconing and fox hunting.
Borgo Santandrea (Amalfi )
I have been obsessed with Borgo SantAndrea’s Insta for ages. I can’t get enough of those Amalfi blues but I’m also a b it surprised. Outfitted with 45 rooms and suites, each with awe-inducing, vertiginous views, Borgo Santandrea offers a scenic Amalfi getaway. Borgo SantAndrea is the first luxury hotel to debut in the region in 15 years- and what a debut! It’s got location – the beautiful fishing town of Conca dei Marini and design -mid-century Italian, of course- on lock!
Outfitted with 45 rooms and suites, each with awe-inducing, vertiginous views, Borgo Santandrea is that dreamy gateway for an Amalfi getaway. This is why people fall in love with the area.
Splendido Mare (Portofino)
Belmond revamped this famed Portofino hotel in 2021 and opens its doors on the legendary Piazzetta with a salute to 1950s glamour. You know, what, I am sensing a trend. . . .Each of its 14 rooms and suites is a celebration of Italy’s golden age — lovely colors inspired by the Ligurian landscape, mid-century furniture and modern design. One suite is inspired by the Barefoot Contessa herself, Ava Gardner. Location is key, and the Splendido Mare has the most envious real estate on the harborfront.
Passalacqua (Lago di Como)
Lakeside grandeur is just about the same as a coastal view, and it is the only requirement when in Lake Como. Hands down, no one does it better than Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which is why we can’t wait for the summer debut of sister property Passalacqua. The gorgeous 18th-century villa opens following an extensive renovation. Get ready for lakeside tennis, open-air cinema and a gym nestled in an olive grove.