Sprawled among olive trees and citrus groves near
Egnazia is one of the best hotels in Puglia,
acting as an ideal launch pad for exploring the nearby towns of
Ostuni and Alberobello, as well as the region’s many idyllic
We never thought we’d get emotional about a hotel – it’s a
hotel, after all, and that would be a bit silly unless you had some
sort of personal connection to it.
But there’s something about Borgo Egnazia – a bleached limestone
labyrinth of winding passageways, cerulean pools, citrus trees,
cascading bougainvillea and shady enclaves – that really tugged at
our heart strings.
Borgo means “village” and the sprawling property, set a little
way back from the Adriatic Coast, is modelled on a traditional
Puglian settlement. Climb to one of the many terraces and rooftops
and you’ll see pretty chimneys with an almost Moorish feel before
your eye is drawn to the turquoise ribbon of ocean in the
Despite Egnazia’s large proportions, this is the antithesis of a
resort. Expert architecture instils the hotel with a storied
charm that makes it feel like a longstanding Italian relic, while
familiar staff who toe the line between attentive and overbearing
imbue your utterly luxurious surroundings with a real sense of
homeliness and intimacy.
We despise mawkish PR slogans, but Borgo’s adage “it’s nowhere
else” really does seem to ring true. It’s no wonder Jessica Biel
and Justin Timberlake chose to have their wedding here.
Choose to stay in one of three different areas. La Corte is the
main building of the hotel, where
romantic rooms are all pale stone, fluttering linen curtains
and canopied beds.
With a central piazza that hosts various fiestas come summer, Il
Borgo is reminiscent of an Apulian village. Multi-storey
whitewashed rooms positioned along pathways are filled with homely
items including local ceramics, overflowing fruit bowls and wooden
kitchen utensils strung from the ceiling.
Expansive villas are entirely private and more classically
furnished, each complete with a patio, rooftop, several bedrooms
and pool. The best bit? They come with your very own Italian
“nonna”, a local lady who will ensure your home-away-from-home is
always full of the most delicious smells of something on the stove,
and will remember your whimsical idiosyncrasies after day one.
What’s for breakfast?
A bright, airy dining room strung with chandeliers made from
aquamarine-blue glass bottles is laid out with pristine-white
tiered tables groaning under the weight of local produce: meats,
cheese, bread, honey, pastries, sun-dried tomatoes, olives, nuts –
you name it. Order hot breakfast as you like it, and don’t forego
the juice bar.
How about lunch and dinner?
Head to the beach club for a lunch of crudo and ice-cold rosé at
Cala Masciola, a salty sea breeze caressing your hair, soft sand
between your toes.
For dinner make tracks to La Frasca, a traditional Apulian
trattoria showcasing the very best local ingredients in a
family-style farmhouse setting. Leave with glowing cheeks, a full
belly and an all-encompassing feeling of contentment.
Alternatively, head to
Michelin-starred Due Camini, where you’ll be wowed with one of
those “remember forever” meals: a gastronomic soiree that begins
with five varieties of olive oil and proceeds with the prettiest
plates of octopus, wild clams, pigeon, black truffle, all eaten in
the softly flickering light of hundreds of candles.
Staff are simply divine, as is the wine. Despite it being an
undeniably extravagant affair, dining feels relaxed and wholly
unpretentious. We’re still not quite sure how they do it.
Is there a bar?
Oh, yes. Weave through limestone arches into one of many
clandestine corners to sip ruby-red
negronis late into the night, or pull up a pew for a front row
seat at a mixology show featuring homemade distillations and
insignia-stamped ice cubes.
The gorgeous Vair Spa has all the works, including an outdoor
and indoor pool, treatment rooms and fitness centre. You’ll also
find a separate children’s swimming pool (and restaurant), as well
as plenty of adult enclaves including a smoking room and various
sitting rooms stocked with books and beckoning armchairs.
Activities on offer include cooking classes, watersports, golf
and tennis, as well as various excursions into the local area. We
recommend a trip to the trulli in Alberobello – your guide, Mimmo,
is a real character who knows everyone in town. Expect a
hilariously brilliant tour before he seduces you with wine and
burrata in his cavernous subterranean bar.
Things I should know…
They have a laughter therapist. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried
Within a short walk I can find…
You could while away days wandering through snaking passageways,
chancing upon hidden terraces, market carts overflowing with fresh
produce, an old-fashioned bicycle propped against a wall or another
swimming pool. But if you leave Borgo for one thing, make it for a
languorous lunch at Il Cortiletto, a 10-minute drive away. At this
tiny, local restaurant with curtained windows, you’ll eat what
you’re given – creamy
pasta, fresh asparagus, nutty local cheese, charcuterie,
frittata – and go back to see what’s on offer the following