BORGO SANTO PIETRO – TUSCANY, ITALY
This place is as cultured as any of its more fusty aristocratic Tuscan rivals, but sexy too, and warm, and just a little bit glamorous.
The location helps: south-west of Siena, it stands not far from the beautiful roofless abbey of San Galgano, in an area of untouristed hilltop villages surrounded by oak woods and walnut groves. It’s the creation of Danish interior designer Jeanette Thottrup and her husband Claus, who fell in love with this remote country house and opened it as a small hotel in 2008. Inside there are silks and velvets by Fortuny and Rubelli, quarryfuls of antique marble, Murano chandeliers, vintage nickel radiators and, in the main entrance hall, weathered flagstones from a 13th-century castle.
What really impresses is the continual fine-tuning: the extensive gardens, from kitchen to formal, have come on apace, the Treehouse Bar offers a sweet alternative to the more elegant main restaurant, and there’s an always-evolving range of things to do, from yoga to truffle hunting, falconry and even Vespa tours. And now the spa, among the best in the region, is moving into new, bigger quarters.