You're not the only one who thinks that everyone, everyone is in Italy this summer. Absence does make the heart grow stronger, and a pandemic without Italy has made la dolce vita seem even sweeter. Hotels all over the majestical boot — along the coastline, dotting the countryside, filling the cities — have opening with gusto, welcoming guests with open arms, grateful that travelers have returned. These are our favorites from the past few years.
In the City
Ca' di Dio, Venice
A hotel so chic and discreet, it didn't even put its name on the door. Located between Piazza San Marco and Arsenale, the Patricia Urquiola-designed hotel fast established itself as Venice HQ for the movers and shakers (and wannabes, of course) of the global art world, who will hold court in the interior courtyard, Alchemia Bar, or intimate VERO restaurant, notable for the dramatic ceiling fresco. And when the Biennale circus isn't in town, the hotel is a serene and elegant retreat for the rest of us: minutes by foot from the heart of the city, yet peaceful as soon as you walk inside. Look under the impressive surface, and you'll find initiatives that are beneficial to the environment (the hotel pulls water from the Venetian lagoon to power its heating and cooling systems) and society (their boutique stocks bags and accessories fabricated from recycled PVC and made by female inmates from the Venice prison, a collaboration with Rio Terà Social Cooperative of Venice).
The St. Regis Venice, Venice
The five connected palazzi (the oldest from the 17th century) that have been welcoming notable guests and artists since 188 (including the Brittania, Europa, and Regina hotels) are in their latest incarnation a St. Regis. The location is unbeatable: right on the Grand Canal, mere steps from Piazza San Marco. Every detail was carefully considered, with a goal of transforming an illustrious history into a pretty and cosseted present. In the rooms, the color palette was inspired by the water, walls, and skies of Venice (taupe, peach, grey-green, serene blue), the pattern on the curtains mirrors that on the pavement in San Marco, the headboard and chairs evoke gondolas. Should the city's charms fail to inspire (ha — what's wrong with you?), you can escape to the public areas on the ground floor for a discreet cocktail on the canal-facing terrace in the Arts Bar, a cozy chat in the Grand Salone under artwork commissioned by the hotel, or a snooze into your novel in Gio's Italianate Garden, which has been restored to what it looked like a century ago. If you've been looking for a way to put the Starwood/Marriott points you've been hoarding for years, they will go far here.
Il Palazzo Experimental, Venice
The Paris-based Experimental Group, originally known for their cool cocktail bars and increasingly for their European hotels (all Fathom favorites!), opened their first Italian outpost in the former headquarters of the Adriatica navigation company. (It says so on the building facade.) Designer Dorothée Meilichzon’s filled the 32 cozy rooms and suites, as well as the pubic spaces, with whimsical nautical themes and local motifs — terrazzo floors, gondola pole stripes, theatrical masks on slippers and do not disturb signs, mullioned Venetian windows, anchor knockers on the doors. In-house Ristorante Adriatica focuses on regional coastal cuisine, a quiet garden in the back overlooks a residential canal, and the cocktail bar is, of course, a big draw. Adding to the appeal are the affordable rates and the off-the-beaten-path location in the quiet Dorsoduro neighborhood.
Venice Venice, Venice
If you prefer your Grand Canal experience to be a little less grand in the classic sense and a little more modern in the future sense, this one's for you. You may think you're entering a Freehand-Ace-Generator when you pass through Venice M'Art on the ground floor and see a shop filled with branded merch and cool kids sitting in the restaurant that spills onto a Rialto-facing terrace, but this one is next level. The 45 rooms spread over two historic palazzi have been individually designed by a global roster of gallerists and artists and filled with high-caliber artwork, with rates from €800-20,000 per night. The first hotel from the Venetian fashion brand Golden Goose embraces the idea of "Postvenezianità" — “Post-Veniceness — that is, embracing the future of the city instead of simply holding onto its past.
The Place Firenze, Florence
When the hotel first opened as J.K. Place in 2003, it ushered in the trend of boutique hotels that feel like homes — a movement that resonated not only locally and throughout Italy but worldwide. Nearly two decades later, the original team (owner Carlo Babini and general manager Claudio Meli) is at it again, reconfiguring the space as The Place Firenze. Imagine a good friend getting a new haircut or color: That's how it will feel if you knew it as J.K. — deeply familiar, only better. An elegant and homey warmth that remains throughout is made even warmer with a palette of greens, golds, and reds that reflect the colors of facade of Santa Maria Novella church across the piazza. Of special note are the plant-filled Glass House atrium space and Lo Studiolo, a jewel box with hand-painted vaulted ceilings that recalls a 15th-century study. A cornerstone of the hotel's mission is supporting local artisans of all trades, through exclusive guest experiences and a special fund, to ensure the city's rich legacy endures. Florence, remember, is the town that invented the Renaissance. The Place Firenze is the hotel for its city.
25hours Florence, Florence
25hours is the quirky, German boutique hotel brand with a LOT of personality. Imagine if the W Hotels had an older sister that was really into art history, culture, and contemporary design. The Florence outpost has a Divine Comedy theme and leans hard into the over-the-top heaven and hell-inspired decor. Half of the 171 rooms are decked out in a soothing, fluffy white cloudscape experience with clean lines, a stone pedestal sink, and bright cherubic design elements. An oversized T-shirt on a sliding rack hides the flat-screen TV, and the walls and ceiling are covered in a satisfying, repeating white tile pattern. There’s a whimsical terrarium jar with a faux taxidermy bird on the desk, and a stuffed mouse adorns the bed (it's the hotel’s mascot). The other half of the rooms are a full-on, blood-red hellscape that verges on a classy, Hollywood-set, red-light-district dungeon. Everything, from the wallpaper to the headboard and curtains, is a patterned velvety red zone, mixing textures and lighting to exaggerate shadows and depth. It’s trippy, but treads a fine line of luxury/fun/cool, and it would be impossible to forget a night in hell here. (Read more about 25Hours Florence on Fathom.)
Galleria Vik Milano, Milan
We're already fans of every one of the Vik Retreats in South America, in no small part for their gorgeous natural settings. Their first European (not to mention first urban) outpost ups the ante in a location overlooking the double arcade of Milan's Galleria Vittorio Emanuele ll, one of the world's great shopping arcades. As with every Vik hotel, art is central to the experience: With each of the 89 rooms and suites, as well as the hallways and restaurant designed by different contemporary artists, not to mention a robust artist-in-residence program, the aesthetics within the hotel are only just surpassed by those of the floor mosaics, the iron and glass dome, and the paintings of the galleria outside.
Hotel Maalot, Rome
We spent five days here the week it opened, and it immediately became a new Rome favorite. The sister property to Hotel Vilòn nearby is mere steps from the Trevi Fountain on one of the busiest streets in Europe. Yes, you'll see hordes when you walk outside, but the location couldn’t be more central. Opera composer Gaetano Donizetti called this building home in the 1800s, and a dramatic spirit fills the space, from the playful artwork on the ground floor — Old Masters-style paintings reimagined with contemporary tattoos and 'tudes — to the 30 rooms furnished with custom-made pieces built by local artisans and decorated with pictures that all feature hats, an homage to the Marvin Gaye tune "Wherever I Lay My Hat (That's My Home)." A fitting sentiment for a welcome hotel run by a helpful and charming team.
The Hoxton Rome, Rome
London's ultra-cool and wildly affordable hotel chain debuts its first Italy outpost in Salario, the under-explored residential neighborhood known for its funky bistros, leafy parks, and salumerie. The 192-room hotel offers its signature room sizes (Shoebox, Snug, Cozy, Roomy) and bold design choices; and adds a buzzy all-day cafe and outdoor terrace serving snacks for aperitivo hour.
Atelier Inès, Naples
The hotel game in Naples is pretty weak, which makes this six-room B&B a welcome and interesting addition. The married couple behind it — Inès the artist and Vincenzo the jewelry designer — transformed what was once an open-air theater, then his family home and father's art studio, into a hotel / cultural center / art experience.
On the Water
Borgo Santandrea, Amalfi Coast
We’re calling it now: This is the best Amalfi Coast opening of the 2020s, a game changer for the area. Two Italian brothers spent four years restructuring an old hotel in a mellow cove between Positano and Amalfi. A handful of private villas dot the area to the north, Sofia Loren just sold the villa on the southern bluff, and the hotel's beach is expansive by local standards. The decor is a sharp and chic mix of mid-century (design fans will swoon for the many original Gio Ponti pieces) and classic Amalfi (the ceramic tiles include 31 floor patterns and an original installation in Alici, one of two on-site restaurants). The 45 rooms (a few more are on the way) overlooking the sea are airy and bright. One more great detail: The flowers throughout are from the hotel’s own gardens.
Passalacqua, Lake Como
With the opening of this villa hotel, Lake Como got even more glamorous. (Who even knew it was possible?) It wasn't enough for the De Santis family to wow guests at their Grand Hotel Tremezzo, one of Lake Como's finest hotels. No, they had to outdo themselves and renovate a nearby 18th-century, 24-bedroom palazzo with hidden passageways, ancient stables, a glass house with fruit trees, a hen house with friendly chickens, an open-air gym in an olive grove and a bocce court by the vegetable garden, the largest suite on Lake Como, and manicured gardens rolling down to the lake. Is this your I-wish-I-was-George-Clooney fantasy come true? Pretty much. (Read more about Passalaqua on Fathom.)
Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como, Lake Como
There's a new member in the impressive Lake Como luxury hotel club, whose members include Villa D'Este, Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, and Il Sereno. Mandarin Oriental is situated on the east side of the lake, guaranteeing that sunsets are only one of the stunners on the bucolic property. Villa Roccabruna, the main building that houses reception, the lounge, and the spa, was once the home of Guiditta Pasta, the 18th-century opera diva who was the J-Lo of her day — and clearly demanded sitting rooms and staircases that befit dramatic entrances. Elegantly appointed rooms and suites are divided among several buildings, including two stand-alone villas. The pool floats directly on the lake (you might get sea legs while lying still on your sun lounger), and the spa offers a full roster of wet and dry treatments (Kneipp hot- and cold-water circuit, Finnish sauna, Himalayan salt rooms). Of special note is the team, which includes a captain who tells great stories as he skippers tours on the house boat (always keeping a respectful distance from George Clooney's villa) and general manager Samuel Porreca, the super-cool host who treats everyone like dear friends, which they will quickly become.
Feel-Good Factor: The house car available for guest use is a Tesla, and a hybrid house boat is in development. A portion of restaurant proceeds benefit a non-profit focusing on sustainability projects on Lake Como.
Splendido Mare, A Belmond Hotel, Portofino
The first Belmond hotel to open under new LVMH ownership is a gut renovation of the 14-room property in the postcard-perfect Italian riviera town of Portofino. The new design includes local and nautical touches in everything from the design to the room names. Yes, Belmond already had a glorious hotel in the small port town, the grand Splendido uphill, but Splendido Mare is an altogether more relaxed option what pays homage to the town's maritime culture and artisanal traditions. (Read more about Splendido Mare on Fathom.)
In the Country
Hotel Castello di Reschio, Tuscany
Three generations of the aristocratic Bolza family have spent the past decades transforming a village of old farm buildings in Umbria and a 1,000-year-old papal castle into an Italian country estate so grand and picturesque we wouldn't believe it if we saw it in a movie. Poised to open in 2020, they were delayed by a certain pandemic, which may make the wait even more worthwhile. And while the ultimate #lifegoal might be to own one of the 25 private homes on the property, until we can rob a bank, we'll be blissfully happy as guests at the new 36-room hotel. More reasons never to leave: two restaurants (ingredients are sourced from the on-site organic farm and vineyards), the Bathhouse spa (located in the castle's ancient wine cellar), and the pool bar (in the former watch tower).
Hotel de Len, Cortina
The Italian answer to Aspen, Cortina, welcomes its first new hotel in years, one that shuns glitz and flash and favors sustainability and well-being. "De len" means "of wood" in the local Ladin language of the Dolomites, and wood is the main material used throughout the minimalist hotel. The 22 rooms and suites are made of Swiss pine, which is thought to improve the quality of sleep, and fir, which helps rebalance body and mind. More wellness awaits on the top floor at the spa, where the view of the mountain and valley is its own form of therapy.
Oasy Hotel, Tuscany
Many hotels claim to have nature as a consideration. At Oasy, nature is everything. It's not so much a single hotel as it is an ambitious living-in-and-with-nature project that will eventually have multiple locations. The first debuted in northern Tuscany on the Dynamo Oasis Nature Reserve in the triangle between Parma, Bologna, and Florence. The 1,000-hectare nature reserve that was once a hunting reserve is today affiliated with the World Wildlife Foundation and is home to happy and thriving wildlife (wolves and hares, buzzards and eagles). The hotel consists of 16 cabin lodges tricked out with all the amenities, two fine dining restaurants, and even a movie theater. Experiences can be active (horseback riding) or relaxing (forest bathing).
Casa di Langa, Piedmont
You only have to check in to begin your culinary journey, as the extremely elegant 39-room sustainable hotel in Piedmont has working vineyards, a garden and green house, a fine dining restaurant, traditionally minded cooking courses, and a truffle concierge. But the rooms themselves will leave you fully satiated — each is beautifully appointed with terra-cotta, leather, stone, and oak, and a spacious terrace overlooking rolling hills.
A carefully converted 800-year-old farmhouse anchors the 12-room hotel on five expansive hectares in wine country. The rooms and suites were inspired by the surrounding countryside and are filled with the work of local artisans. Nature also informs the offerings at the spa, which includes a hammam and a banja. The dining program led by Michelin-starred chef Andrea Ribaldone offers a trio of experiences, one on each floor of the restaurant. (Read more about Nodelaia on Fathom.)
Castle Elvira, Puglia
The place to go when a masseria (old farmhouse) sounds less tempting than a castello that has been carefully restored into a six-suite retreat in Puglia after having been abandoned for a century. The art-filled castle (with a wild backstory) offers artistic classes and workshops and more than a dash of design whimsy.
Where: Ostuni, Italy
Why We're Excited: The new Puglia hotel is easily locatable, as the only red building in a predominantly white city. Dating from the 1700, the structure has served as a convent, a palace, and a home before its current incarnation as an 11-room hotel with original frescoed walls; a massive central garden with a pool, an orange grove, and an outdoor screening area for 1950s and '60s Italian movies; a gourmet restaurant at the hands of a Michelin-trained chef; and a spa in the former palace cistern.
Can't get enough new hotels? Check out the The Best New Hotels from Early 2022.