Chianti, reconsidered

Pieve Aldina in Chianti
Pieve Aldina in Chianti

The received wisdom about any place in Europe that’s so oversubscribed with Brits as to have earned a colloquial “-shire” appendix would suggest it’s a place to be avoided. But that would be selling Tuscany’s much-plied Chianti short; it is, after all, positively overflowing with bucolic scenery, sweet hill towns and impressive fortified castles, wines of world-beating reputation and be-starred restaurants. These days, it also seems to be having a hotel moment. First came news last spring of the reborn Vignamaggio, a 600-year-old wine estate that landscape designer Patrice Taravella has remade as a multifaceted hospitality venture, with events spaces, farmhouses to rent, and 13 suites in its stunning Renaissance villa. 

The pool at Pieve Aldina
The pool at Pieve Aldina © Sadik Sans Voltaire
A dining area; the hotel’s style lets the former monastery’s history shine
A dining area; the hotel’s style lets the former monastery’s history shine © Sylvie Bequet

Then in June, just a few miles to the south in Radda, Pieve Aldina opened its doors. Part of Les Domaines de Fontenille, a collection of 10 small properties across France and Menorca, Aldina, the 11th, is its first in Italy. All is space, light and pared-back style in the 22 rooms and suites, where a sophisticated design touch lets the ex-monastery’s history shine through. The restaurant is a contemporised take on the perennial pleasures of what’s kilometro zero, from the ambience (chestnut timber, cotto floors) to the food (if you can hit your ragù di cinta senese mark in these parts, you’re good). The spa might just be the thing, though, with its chapel-like treatment suites, hammam and infrared spa and hyper-local skincare line, Laboratori Hur., from €320

Southern Tuscany’s sleek new address

Casa Newton in the Val d’Orcia, Tuscany
Casa Newton in the Val d’Orcia, Tuscany © Alessandro Moggi

If your desired coordinates are further south, in Vino Nobile country, then Casa Newton, which opened just a couple of weeks ago, might be the place for you. With a location at the edge of the endlessly gorgeous, Unesco-protected Val d’Orcia, near both Pienza (a tiny Renaissance jewel) and Montepulciano (whence the aforementioned sangiovese-based Vino Nobile, Italy’s oldest wine appellation, derives), Casa Newton’s nine rooms and two suites have next to no truck with Tuscan Trad.

Furnishings in one of its bedrooms
Furnishings in one of its bedrooms © Alessandro Moggi

The architect-designers have leaned heavily into vintage pieces, wild tiles and textiles and an overall late-’70s Milan vibe. If Casa Newton is good news for 20th-century design aficionados, so too for the oenophiles: the hotel is attached to Fabbrica, one of southern Tuscany’s most talked-about young wineries., from €400 

Manna from heaven in remote mainland Greece

A vew of Manna in the Peloponnese
A vew of Manna in the Peloponnese

Just as your Instagram feed seemed to have retreated from its summer-long mass migration to the Cycladic islands, Greece is back: but it’s a different set of coordinates and a very different mood. Manna is deep in the Arcadian woodlands of the central Peloponnese, at 1,200m and surrounded by virgin fir forests not far from the village of Magouliana. The former sanatorium – constructed at the beginning of the last century for those suffering respiratory ills – stood empty for almost eight decades before coming to the attention of new owners. They brought in Athens-based K-Studio (who are behind Dexamenes and Kálesma, among other eye-catching Greek hotel projects) to undertake a renovation that’s far more restoration than reinvention.

A bathroom at Manna
A bathroom at Manna © Ana Santl
A balcony at Manna; the hotel is surrounded by fir forests at an altitude of 1,200m
A balcony at Manna; the hotel is surrounded by fir forests at an altitude of 1,200m © Ana Santl

The 32 rooms and suites combine Alpine Gemütlichkeit and brutalist-inflected rigour: if that sounds weird on paper, it works on the ground, with pitched timber ceilings, limestone floors and Crittall-style windows playing elegantly together. The lighting was designed by Eleftheria Deko, whose last project was… the Acropolis., from €239

Dublin dresses up

The PV Doyle suite at The Westbury, Dublin
The PV Doyle suite at The Westbury, Dublin © Sim Canetty-Clarke

The Doyle Collection might not be a name you know; but a few of its hotels, particularly in London – The Marylebone and The Kensington – exhibit  great style and character to boot (thanks to Doyle chair Bernie Gallagher, who’s one of the chicest women in hotel-dom). The Westbury, Doyle’s flagship in Dublin, is next in our sights; a top-to-toe renovation has been done, with 18 sleek new suites on its top floors (redesigned to the tune of some €8mn).

Breakfast at the Terrace Suite at the Westbury, Dublin
Breakfast at the Terrace Suite at the Westbury, Dublin © Sim Canetty-Clarke

The hero is the 130sq m PV Doyle suite, in which can now be found artworks by 11 of Ireland’s leading lights; among them are a tapestry by Louis Le Brocquy and canvases by Nano Reid, Patrick Scott and Tim Goulding., from €420 


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