Inside hotel lobbies across Italy, change is afoot. Aside from a handful of iconic properties, many have long been stuck in the past – either draughty B&B-style pensiones or overly formal residences. I should know – I’ve been staying at Italian hotels ever since I was a child, visiting my family. But this year there’s a serious boost in where to stay as a wave of incredible new hotels open up.
Look no further than the craggy, snow-tipped peaks of the Dolomites for a fairy-tale escape at Hotel Kolfuschgerhof, in the northern region of Alta Badia.
It’s a family-owned hotel, inspired by a traditional Tyrolean aesthetic with wood-clad rooms and bathtubs giving stunning views over The Sella massif. Alpine-themed spa treatments, some using locally made blackberry oils, and plenty of cosy corners are just the thing to warm you up after a day spent out in the crisp air.
Hotel Kolfuschgerhof (pictured), is nestled in the snow-tipped peaks of the Dolomites in Italy’s northern region of Alta Badia
The family-owned Hotel Kolfuschgerhof is inspired by a traditional Tyrolean aesthetic with wood-clad rooms
There’s a contemporary twist on high-altitude chic at Locanda degli Artisti (pictured centre-foreground)
The sauna at Locanda degli Artisti. The hotel has just 20 suites, each dedicated to an Italian artist
As well as dining in the hotel, guests can tuck into traditional fare in the hotel’s tiny mountain lodge, found at 6,500ft up in the Val Stella Alpina – giving new meaning to ‘haute cuisine’.
Rooms cost from £252 per night (kolfuschgerhof.com).
Drive south for an hour and take in the cascading Pisciadu Waterfalls en route to another new mountain retreat, Locanda degli Artisti, where there’s a contemporary twist on high-altitude chic.
The hotel has just 20 suites, each dedicated to an Italian artist with their original pieces adorning the walls.
Rooms cost from £110 per night (merrioncharles.com).
Ca’ di Dio (pictured), or House of God, is, as its name suggests, a heavenly place to soak up Venice’s history
Ca’ di Dio has been carved out of a palazzo that dates from 1271. Visit in springtime and avoid the city’s crowds
Rooms at Ca’ di Dio, which is close to Piazza San Marco at the entrance to the Arsenale art district, cost from £386 per night
While Venice will be limiting day visitors from the summer, in an effort to tackle chronic overcrowding, spring is usually a good time to experience the city without crowds. Ca’ di Dio, or House of God, is, as its name suggests, a heavenly place to soak up Venice’s history. Close to Piazza San Marco at the entrance to the Arsenale art district, it has been carved out of a palazzo that dates from 1271 and which welcomed the world’s first-ever tourists in the form of Crusaders and pilgrims.
A pretty spot to hang out is the hotel’s gourmand restaurant Vero, with glorious views over the island of San Giorgio Maggiore. Rooms cost from £386 per night (vretreats.com/ca-di-dio).
Baglioni Hotel Luna, known as one of Venice’s most iconic hotels, also boasts a rich history of hosting travellers. Dating from the 12th Century, it was once home to a Knights Templar hostel, making it the oldest hotel in the city. It’s now renovated and beautifully restored, and guests can relax in the spa and dine in the restaurant.
Rooms cost from £258 per night (baglionihotels.com).
Lakeside luxury: The new Passalacqua hotel, on the edges of Lake Como, is based in an 18th Century villa that once welcomed Napoleon Bonaparte
A waterside haven of a different kind can be found on Lake Como with the new Passalacqua hotel, due to open in June.
It is a sister property to the Lake’s most famous hotel – the Grand Hotel Tremezzo – and has been created from an 18th Century lakeside villa that once welcomed visitors including Napoleon Bonaparte and composer Vincenzo Bellini.
With just 24 suites, one of which has a double-height music room where Bellini used to play piano, the hotel promises romance in abundance. Guests can wander its rose gardens, relax with an alfresco spa treatment in the ancient orchards, sail the lake on vintage yachts and enjoy movie nights under the stars.
Rooms cost from £856 for two per night (passalacqua.it).
For an immersive leap into the stylish city of Milan, check in to the new Vico Milano (pictured)
Vico Milano is a guesthouse that bursts with eclectic interiors sourced from around the world. Pictured is a bathroom in one of the suites
Head south from Lake Como to Milan and for an immersive leap into this stylish city, check in to the new Vico Milano. With just seven bedrooms, this guesthouse bursts with eclectic interiors sourced from around the world. Rooms cost from £298 per night (vicomilano.com).
This summer also welcomes luxury hotel Portrait Milano, which will channel Milan’s fashion heritage. Following on from five-star sister hotels in Rome and Florence, it is part of the Lungarno Collection by renowned hoteliers the Ferragamo family.
The hotel has transformed one of Europe’s oldest seminaries, dating from 1564, and additions include a wellness centre, restaurants and a shopping arcade.
Rooms cost from £672 per night (lungarnocollection.com).
This summer will see the opening of Portrait Milano, transforming one of Europe’s oldest seminaries (pictured) into a luxury hotel
Piacenza, south of Milan, is frequently overlooked by tourists. Its latest opening, Novo Osteria, may soon change that.
Owner Gianni Maini has taken inspiration from the building’s heritage as a 12th Century convent, later an inn and, in the post-war years, where actors and dancers from the nearby Capitol theatre used to stay – thus becoming a symbol for Piacenza’s rich ‘dolce vita’ culture.
Just seven rooms are served by a stellar restaurant with dishes from the Emilia-Romagna region.
Rooms cost from £100 for two per night (novo-osteria.it).
Rosewood Castliglion del Bosco, a sprawling country estate in Montalcino, in the heart of Tuscany, is another property founded by the Ferragamo family. The resort, on a wine estate, recently reopened after a renovation which includes 19 new suites with pools.
Suites cost from £588 per night (rosewoodhotels.com).
Rosewood Castliglion del Bosco, pictured, is a sprawling country estate in Montalcino, in the heart of Tuscany
Suites at Rosewood Castliglion del Bosco cost from £588 per night – the property features 19 new suites with pools
Rosewood Castliglion del Bosco, which is set on a wine estate, recently reopened after a renovation
Since 1994, the Bolza family have been restoring the Reschio Estate in the Umbrian hills (pictured) to its former glory
One of the 36 rooms at Hotel Castello di Reschio, housed in a converted 1,000-year-old castle
Since 1994, the Bolza family have been restoring the Reschio Estate in the Umbrian hills to its former glory. At its heart is a 1,000-year-old castle that has been transformed into the 36-room Hotel Castello di Reschio.
A selection of restaurants champion a farm-to-fork ethos, with most produce sourced from the estate’s organic kitchen garden, vineyards and beehives.
Rooms cost from £638 for two per night (reschio.com).
Rome is abuzz with new openings, including W Rome, which brings some fun to the Eternal City with a secret garden, dedicated pastry restaurant and a chill-out rooftop bar with pool.
Rooms cost from £467 per night (w-rome.com).
W Rome (pictured above) brings some fun to the Eternal City – and even features a secret garden
Guests at W Rome can look forward to exploring its dedicated pastry restaurant and the chill-out rooftop bar with a pool
Pictured is W Rome’s ‘Spectacular’ suite – rooms at the hotel cost from £467 per night
If you prefer bold and colourful designs, check out Mama Shelter Roma from the French boho hotel brand. Expect great views from the rooftop restaurant overlooking Vatican City.
Rooms cost from £108 per night (mamashelter.com).
Opening in the autumn is the much anticipated Six Senses Rome, close to the Trevi Fountain. It is carved out of an 18th Century palazzo. The big draw here is the first-floor spa with botanical-themed therapies.
Room rates to be announced (sixsenses.com).
If you love bold and colourful designs, check out Mama Shelter Roma (pictured) from the French boho hotel brand. Above is the hotel’s pool
Expect great views from Mama Shelter’s rooftop restaurant, pictured above, which overlooks Vatican City
Opening in the autumn is the much anticipated Six Senses Rome, close to the Trevi Fountain. Above is a rendering of one of the rooms
A rendering of the roof terrace at Six Senses Rome, which is housed inside an 18th Century palazzo
For some of the most impressive ocean views in Italy, you can’t beat the cliffside Borgo Santandrea, which perches some 300ft above the sea in the fishing village of Conca dei Marini on the Amalfi Coast. Throw in a private beach and three restaurants and you’ve got a pretty special summer escape. Rooms cost from £800 per night (borgosantandrea.it).
Oetker Collection is the name behind some of the most legendary hotels in the world – including the five-star Lanesborough in London – and it has now set its sights on Italy.
Hotel La Palma, opening in the summertime, was Capri’s first-ever hotel, built in 1822, and in its transformation no expense has been spared.
Sheer beauty: Head to the cliffside hotel Borgo Santandrea (above right) on the Amalfi Coast for some of the most impressive sea views in Italy
Borgo Santandrea perches some 300ft above the sea in the fishing village of Conca dei Marini
Rooms at Borgo Santandrea, which has a private beach and three restaurants, cost from £800 per night
But factor in a beach club, spa, boutiques and dining – including the rooftop restaurant Bianca run by famous Italian chef Gennaro Esposito – and Hotel La Palma is a love letter to Capri.
Rooms cost from £714 per night (oetkercollection.com).
Over in Porto Cervo in Sardinia, 7Pines Resort opens its doors in July, surrounded by a nature reserve. As well as a beach club, private yachts for guests and three restaurants, the hotel will offer organic spa treatments. Rooms cost from £336 per night (7pines.com).
Not to be outdone, Italy’s largest island, Sicily, welcomes three knockout hotels.
Boutique Il San Corrado di Noto (above) opens in April with just 26 suites and eight villas and is the first of its kind in Val di Noto, Sicily’s Unesco World Heritage Site
The newly transformed Hotel La Palma, which was Capri’s first-ever hotel, is opening in the summertime. The above rendering offers a glimpse at what the poolside will look like
Rooms at Hotel La Palma (shown in a rendering above) cost from £714 per night, and guests can avail themselves of a beach club, spa, and boutiques
A rendering of the rooftop restaurant Bianca run by famous Italian chef Gennaro Esposito at Hotel La Palma
In Porto Cervo in Sardinia, 7Pines Resort (shown here in a rendering) opens its doors in July, surrounded by a nature reserve
The 7Pines Resort will feature a beach club, private yachts for guests and three restaurants – one of which is shown in the above rendering
Grand: The revamped Villa Igiea in Palermo, where rooms cost from £385 per night
Boutique Il San Corrado di Noto opens in April with just 26 suites and eight villas and is the first of its kind in Val di Noto, Sicily’s Unesco World Heritage Site.
Rooms cost from £495 per night (ilsancorradodinoto.com).
At Rocco Forte’s new resort in Palermo, Villa Igiea captures the essence of France’s prosperous inter-war years known as Belle Epoque.
The 19th Century mansion was originally a private villa, and was later transformed into the island’s most famous grand hotel. After a two-year refurb, chef Fulvio Pierangelini heads up three restaurants with simple, authentic Sicilian delicacies. Rooms cost from £385 per night (roccofortehotels.com).
For another historic gem look to Taormina and the San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel. This 14th Century Dominican convent became a hotel in 1856, with a guestbook littered with famous regulars including Oscar Wilde, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren.
After its two-year makeover, guests can expect immaculately restored architectural details, a clifftop infinity pool and lush gardens. It’s also set to be a culinary hotspot, and dining with Mount Etna in sight doesn’t get more dramatic – or Italian – than that.
Rooms cost from £678 per night, (fourseasons.com/taormina).
For a historic gem look to Taormina and the San Domenico Palace, a Four Seasons Hotel (pictured) that recently underwent a two-year makeover
San Domenico Palace, formerly a 14th Century Dominican convent, became a hotel in 1856
San Domenico Palace’s guestbook is littered with famous regulars including Oscar Wilde, Audrey Hepburn and Sophia Loren