Italy is known for its history-encrusted palazzo hotels and rustic Tuscan farmhouses. Still, some hoteliers are daring to nudge the boundaries of tradition, crafting a new crop of hotels that are playfully cool, sparsely modern or acutely on-trend. Yet however unconventional, these hotels are not out of place in the timeless landscapes and ancient cities they inhabit.

Sikelia Pantelleria

Fixed between Sicily and Tunisia (and closer to the latter), the wild, black volcanic island of Pantelleria balances North African influences with Italian soul. The same could be said of the art-filled Sikelia where communal spaces and each of the twenty guestrooms are a study in off-the-grid indulgence: there’s an aquamarine free-form pool; rooms ornamented with stripped-back Arabian archways and vaulted ceilings and a soothing-but-stylish palette of naturalistic greys used throughout.

Il Sereno Lake Como

In a land of over-adorned, stuffy renaissance villas and classical gardens, Il Sereno has the kind of clutter-free, minimalist vibe that Marie Kondo would approve of. The pared-back, contemporary layout by architect and designer Patricia Urquiola puts the geographical splendor of Lake Como on full display. An awe-inducing sense-of-place is achieved with sleek floor-to-ceiling windows; vast stretches of clean lines and open spaces; accents of raw building materials like stone and wood; and floods of heavenly natural light. (Also, the freshwater infinity pool floating on the fabled lake is nothing short of a masterwork.)

Zash Country Boutique Hotel Sicily

Part restored winery, part country hideaway and part plate-glass masterpiece, this Design Hotels™ gem is a soothing escape comprised of just ten well-appointed guestrooms. Set in an isolated citrus grove in the shadow of Mount Etna, Zash—however stylistically progressive—still leaves you feeling at one with nature.

San Luis South Tyrol

Wooden chalets and alpine treehouse lodges aren’t what first comes to mind when you think of Italy, but the San Luis is redefining relaxed luxury. Hidden within 40 hectares of fairytale forests in South Tyrol, the San Luis shows off the unspoiled, tourist-free side of Italy that’s both ideal for exploration and relaxation.

Casa Angelina Amalfi Coast

A colourful and characterful modern art collection is a defining feature at the museum-white Casa Angelina on the Amalfi Coast. Spanning the globe and presenting in a mix of mediums, the prestigious collection features ceramics by Mexican artist Sergio Bustamante; blown glass by Cuban artist Alfredo Sosabravo; bronzes by British artist Tim Cotterill; and oils by Argentinian artist Patricia Valencia Carstens. A canvas on which to showcase the art, Casa Angelina’s aesthetic is pristinely white, sublimely peaceful and highly cultured.

G-Rough Rome

For an unconventional, anachronistic Roman holiday, G-Rough is an achingly stylish boutique property where each of the ten rooms are named after twentieth-century Italian designers. Not only is the “rough luxury” of the Giorgia Cerulli-curated setting a departure from Rome’s grand dame hotels, but the guest experiences—like the “designer for a day” program where you can craft your own handbag from scratch— are also delightfully one-off and unexpected.

La Fiermontina Lecce

Sharing walls with Lecce’s historic city center, the minimally dressed La Fiermontina makes for an ideal Puglian retreat that’s half city and half country. With outdoor sculptures standing alongside age-old olive trees and a seventeenth-century foundation now displaying modish Italian furnishings, this property is an effortless mix of the ancient and the modern.

The Yard Milano Milan

Zany sporting ephemera, clashes of funky patterns, and retro knickknacks are just a few of the hyper-stylized design elements that greet you upon arrival at this in boutique bolthole in Milan’s nightlife neighbourhood. The hotel features two on-trend bars (one decked out by Ralph Lauren), a cinema room that probably plays Wes Anderson movies on loop and bike and skate rentals.

Sikelia

Il Sereno

Zash Country Boutique Hotel

San Luis

Casa Angelina

G-Rough

La Fiermontina

The Yard Milano

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