“Makes even the most imaginative British designer hotel seem a bit uncool” was the comment from a well-travelled guest at this exceptional 2014 opening. By North European standards, it’s well off the beaten track, south of Lecce in Salento, the ‘heel’ of Italy, which makes Don Totu’s sophisticated concept for a town B & B all the more impressive.
The pleasingly restored 18thC facade in a quiet side street in the small town of San Cassiano could lead, you might think, to handful of rooms on a pokey staircase above a ground floor hall and breakfast room. But no: Tardis-style, you enter an unexpectedly huge area of interconnecting living rooms and courtyards leading to a big garden, swimming pool and large, contemporary, poolside room at the rear.
The design – contemporary-chic interfacing neatly with the old building – makes you wish the designer could redo your own home. Decorative and functional surprises keep coming at you. Prices are fair and there are no extras except for lunch (pre-ordered) and petrol for the scooters available to guests along with electric and pedal bikes. The map provided for a local biking or jogging route hangs round your neck like a luggage tag and is yet another example of how the owners really have come up with new ideas, not just gimmicks, likewise the nicely presented box of local guide booklets.
Stay for three nights or a week if you can – the facilities (see side panel) and things to do in the area, plus reliable sunshine, make it a destination in its own right.