Castello del Nero, Tuscany


It's everything you'd expect of a 5-star hotel in Tuscany. Castello del Nero offers the 12th-century bones of a noble residence, adapted for modern comfort while preserving ancient features like beams and old brick floors. It has a Michelin-starred restaurant as well as a rustic taverna, a world-class Espa spa and expansive views over the hills punctuated with poplars and cypress which have made Chiantishire a favourite with Brits.

And the position? While perfectly secluded, the Castello is only a half-hour's drive from both Florence and Siena, and the hotel provides a free shuttle to both cities. Even closer is the iconic, picturesque village of San Gimignano, though you'll need a car to reach it; for this purpose, the hotel offers an equally iconic Cinquecento to rent.

My huge, richly upholstered beamed bedroom with bathroom almost the same size overlooked the front garden with its sculptures and the view beyond; there are unobscured views over countryside from the back, but note the lowest-priced rooms have courtyard views only.

A pre-installed universal adaptor and super-fast free Wifi were as welcome as the fluffy robes, huge towels and generously sized bottles of good toiletries.

An excellent breakfast, including local cheeses, artisanal bread and freshly squeezed juices, is served in La Torre, the Michelin-starred restaurant, which is almost redundant in Tuscany. La Taverna offers superb rustic fare in a more informal setting for family meals; a huge terrace overlooking the hills serves both restaurants.

<> Rooms from €426, including breakfast. <>

The Castello, which produces its own wine and olive oil, overlooks Antinori, known for its super-Tuscans, and special packages offer a meal and visit of this legendary wine estate. But given the superb spa, with its mild sauna and hydrotherapy pool overlooking the hills, and the large outdoor swimming pool, you may never want to leave the premises.

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