Our adventure through the south of Italy brought us to the historical, Baroque city of Lecce, Puglia. Upon arrival in the city, we were greeted by tree-lined boulevards extending for miles on end; baring a striking a resemblance to the US. Shortly after entering Lecce, we were shocked to stumble across a stash of 17th-century buildings peeking over the city walls and through the archway to this traditional wonder of a city.
Our first night was spent in an apartment, located in a tiny side street surrounded by time-honoured, colourful buildings; a real sense of local life. On our second night, we checked into a 5* hotel situated on the other side of the city; overlooking a typically Italian courtyard with a dramatically imposing gothic-style church.
Dimora San Giuseppe was unassuming, and looked as though it was part of a residential building through a tiny door you had to duck under to get into (and I’m only 5″ 6!). Once in the lift, which was just big enough to fit 2 adults and 2 tiny carry-on bags, we were welcomed by a friendly Italian lady who presented us with a map of the city, which she had already marked with ‘P’ for pizza place, ‘D’ for a casual bar for drinks, and ‘E’ for expensive, or a more classy establishment. She proceeded to show us into our Junior Suite Spa, and taught us about all of the functions and uses for all our the devices included in the room itself; our private, colour-changing Jacuzzi, our illuminated personal Hamam and the mood music which was peacefully coming from a height.
The suite itself was extremely spacious, 70 square metres, with 2 chaise-lounge on entry, positioned on a raised platform next to a large LCD TV, coffee machine and personal Turkish Bath. Tea and coffee making facilities were provided, as was a fresh jug of cool water. It is also worth noting that books were provided in the language of your choice below the 42″ television, and the lighting can be perfectly adjusted to suit the mood of choice.
In the adjacent room, there was a large Jacuzzi with a relaxing, ambient feel and a mezzanine level which hosted a king-sized, memory foam bed and a stunning view over the atmospheric room below. The bathroom gave the option of a powerful hose-style shower, or a full rain shower which gives the feel of being in a spa; the marble wall tiles adding to the tranquil, spa-like feel of the room.
Located in the inner courtyard on the top floor of the building, the room is tranquil and quiet, even though the surroundings offer thriving nightlife and top-rated restaurants. If you were to stay in such a hotel in a city such as London, Paris or New York, you could potentially pay up to five times more just for one night; a truly spectacular experience in the unforgettable city of Lecce.
The hotel is located in Libertini Palazzo, named after the patriot Giuseppe Libertini. The building itself is an historic nineteenth century mansion which stands upon an ancient Roman ampitheater; ensuring the land it is built on is indeed an attraction in itself.
After deciding to spend the rest of the afternoon taking full advantage of the facilities we had in our room, we discovered a nearby mini-market which had Salento wines, fresh cheeses and local charcuterie. Although there is a large fridge in the room with inexpensive variations of wine and soft drinks, it may be cheaper to head out and stock up on the essentials yourself, if only planning to stay for a couple of nights.
Breakfast at Dimora San Giuseppe is served between 8am and 10am, and as the hotel is rather small, the owner will ask you upon check-in which time you prefer. We chose 10am and they were more than happy to oblige. Breakfast came around and we were surprised to find it served personally to you on a stunning roof terrace; a perfect way to start the day. The waitress brought us local sugary treats, croissants, fresh fruit and juices, and was more than happy to offer us a different style of breakfast should we prefer.
Upon check-out, the hotel owner was more than happy to assist with our onward travels and give us any advice we needed. It is also worth mentioning that parking was readily available near to the hotel, but is not private to the hotel itself. There is a small charge for this, 60 cents per hour between the hours of 9am-2pm and 4pm to 9pm.
The photos on various review sites of the Dimora San Giuseppe do not do the hotel any justice at all, and this hotel is one that has to be stayed in to experience just how fantastic it really is. Should you be in the Puglia region, definitely stop by Lecce to wander the mesmerizing city alleyways, but also be sure to drop by this hotel to experience for yourself a tranquil oasis in an unforgettable city.