The heel of Italy’s boot, sultry Puglia is a rustic, unflashy region that still feels gloriously intrepid. Famous for its conical, nest-like Trulli houses – some centuries-old, many now converted to chic boutique hotels – it’s the place to stay in a sleepy rural village, striking out for scenic castles, beaches and grottoes. This is a relatively undiscovered Italian region, getting a far smaller portion of Italy’s tourists than the switchback Amalfi Coast or the mirror-like Lake District, so you’re free to enjoy a looser itinerary, driving around and booking experiences as you go. Here’s our pick of hotels in Puglia, and they’re all bookable with Culture Trip.
A Jenga-stack of sun-warmed buildings perch on rugged cliffs in the narrow bay of Monopoli, just southeast of Bari – most people’s entry point to Puglia. Hidden within that photogenic cluster is this elegant couple’s favourite hotel in Puglia, tempting old romantics with its cavernous stone suites. Some have private terraces, fireplaces and Jacuzzis; all have whizzy Nespresso machines, smart TVs and artfully distressed furniture.
A masseria is a kind of fortified farmhouse found across Italy and these hotels are particularly plentiful in rural Puglia. There’s no mucking in with the cows at Prosperi, mind. Here, a serene ice-blue swimming pool shimmers beneath the olive trees and a huddle of crisp white rooms are decked out with vintage suitcases and chests, ornate tiling, riding paraphernalia and reclaimed religious art. Happily, dogs, cats, goats and donkeys do wander around the estate, which is very much for animal lovers, plus the beaches and lakes around coastal Otranto are within a 15-minute drive.
On the region’s northern coast, a little way out of Monopoli, this family-friendly boutique hotel in Puglia has a spa, games room, children’s playground and two beach clubs. With a golf course and tennis courts nearby, it has so many activities on offer, in fact, that it feels like an all-ages summer camp (pilates, Vespa tours, olive oil tastings, piano lessons…). But you may just want to kick back at the beach, where two dune-sheltered options have pristine white loungers facing turquoise Adriatic shallows.
The southernmost part of the ‘heel’ of Puglia, the Salento peninsula, has some of the region’s most exquisite beaches and dramatic coastline, as well as storied fortified towns and sleepy little villages to visit. This grand boutique hotel in Puglia, just outside of the coastal commune of Leuca, is a nine-room aristocratic mansion restored by an arty collective to reveal a mix of historic, vine-climbed courtyards and rooms splashed with modern art. The pool terrace is worth a day or two of your itinerary, but having cocktails in a stone temple in the orange grove is just as magical. Rooms have a pared-back, industrial vibe, but with vivid ceiling frescoes and Moorish floor tiles.
Parts of this impressive castle date back to the 11th century, with angels and saints daubed onto its ceilings by visiting artists in the 16th and 17th century. It now contains one of the best hotels in Puglia with nine high-luxe rooms, opening out to tranquil courtyards and a walled garden. With no swimming pool (you can lounge by the one at its sister property, Masseria Le Mandorle, five minutes away), this spot is all about the historic interiors and the food. As well as a glamorous restaurant, wine tastings and a kitchen garden, there’s a swish cookery school where you can learn the ropes of classic Pugliese cuisine, or be taught the basics of pasta and bread by visiting cooks.
The interior design details at this Puglia hotel in Ostuni have been cherry-picked from around the world: South African bathtubs, parquet flooring from France, antique nightstands scored at distant flea markets. The proud owners will happily talk you through each treasure, when they’re not booking you into the earthy underground spa, with its Himalayan salt grotto and bubbling whirlpool. The outdoor pool is a sultry spot to lounge on a sun-bleached stone terrace, and the concierge team excels at swanky days out, from private yachts to motorbike tours and cooking classes.
One of the most famous names on Puglia’s luxury hotel scene, this mini-village of a hotel may look rustic, but it’s stuffed to the gills with super-luxe furnishings, food and pampering. An enormous outdoor pool space means you’ll never feel crowded (after dark, this is where patrons drape themselves to dine with world-class cocktails). Two hotel beaches – one on a rocky promontory, the other on a sliver of golden sand – are a five and 10-minute golf-car rattle away. Impossibly plush suites are cream-on-cream, with linen-canopied beds and spa-like bathrooms, sculpted from local Ostuni stone.
One key historic stop in this region is the faded, pastel peninsula of Gallipoli, a fortress town that juts proudly into the Ionian Sea. Ancient Greeks, Vandals, Goths and Byzantines all left their mark on its island-based old town, which now contains this 10-room design hotel. Rooms with strong individual character have been furnished with an art-collector’s eye: Chinese ceramics rub up against Victorian fringed lamps and curvaceous mid-century sofas, while a multi-tiered roof terrace is a balmy spot for cocktail hour.
It’s a testament to Italy’s richness of history, art and culture that Lecce is somehow low on the list for Italian cities to visit before you die. Constructed in a uniformly Baroque style, mostly in creamy limestone, this luxury hotel in Puglia is a real looker, with a storybook cathedral and basilicas, a dazzling Roman amphitheatre, and crucially, few tourists. Bozzi Corso is a handsome 18th-century mansion with just 10 suites and a beautiful, leafy patio to breakfast on. Rooms have historic moulding and polished wood or tile floors, warmed up by expensive rugs, plush accent chairs and tasteful art. A dazzling chef-prepared breakfast and an honesty bar up the luxurious feel.
Also in Lecce’s historical centre, this creamy limestone resort in Puglia is hugged by silvery olive and scented orange trees. Inside, minimalist rooms have either rustic timber ceilings or high-arched stone features, some with living areas or mezzanine levels. This is a crisp, architectural, sharp-edged brand of luxury, offset by convivial guest dinners in the adjacent olive grove, and generous pours in the converted barn that acts as a bar. Book a cooking lesson with your hosts to dig into the local flavours.
Deep in Puglia’s rural centre, this ‘diffused hotel’ is a scattering of self-catering apartments across various ancient buildings in the belltower-topped town of Locorotondo. Each apartment has its own charm: some petite with roof terraces and canopied day beds, others farmhouse-style, studded with kitchens and polished stone bathtubs that look like sculptures. All are infused with a sense of history. You’re welcomed with wine and biscuits on arrival, but then largely left to it (unless you need assistance). Explore Locorotondo, lauded as Puglia’s prettiest town, then head out for day trips to Ostuni and the beaches around Brindisi.
A tumble of igloo-white buildings characterises the historic centre of Fasano, handily located between Puglia’s agricultural interior and the Adriatic Sea. This is both olive oil and wine country, so expect the best of both at every meal – and make this stone-clad, historic six-room hideaway your base for dinners and tastings in the area. At this budget hotel in Puglia a petite, serene pool allows you to lounge among the vines, while a wholesome breakfast is served on the indoor-outdoor lounge and its adjoining terrace.
For more options, discover our guide to the best boutique hotels in Matera and book now on Culture Trip.
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