Check In, Check Out: Hotel Review: Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda, Italy

§ July 25th, 2012 § Filed under Uncategorized § Tagged , Comments Off on Check In, Check Out: Hotel Review: Palazzo Margherita in Bernalda, Italy


A glamorous retreat owned by Francis Ford Coppola in the heart of a down-to-earth southern Italian city. Garden rooms start at 360 euros, about $435, at $1.20 to the euro; suites reach 1,200 euros ($1,445) a night.


This luxury boutique hotel is set within the freshly stuccoed walls of a 19th-century villa restored by local artisans who collaborated with the French architect Jacques Grange. The nine-room hideaway, the fifth property in Mr. Coppola’s resort chain, opened in March.


The hotel is in Bernalda, in eastern Basilicata, a somewhat remote, underappreciated, stunningly beautiful region in southern Italy set among Puglia, Calabria, Campania and the Ionian Sea. Bernalda also happens to be the hometown of Mr. Coppola’s paternal grandfather. The hotel is on the main thoroughfare of this affable town, easy walking or biking distance from the historic center, restaurants and shopping. The location serves as a convenient base for day trips by car to nearby beaches, the ruins at Metaponto and Policoro, the cave dwellings of Matera and the haunting, deserted town of Craco.


Upon my arrival, I was told I was the sole guest in the hotel that evening — and the third in the two weeks it had been open — and therefore would receive an upgrade from a ground-floor garden room to a second-story suite. An anteroom containing a desk, abundant closet space and a free minibar led to a frescoed bedroom that led to a shared terrace and a garden view. The décor was simple: a king-size bed draped in white linens; a floor of white and turquoise terra-cotta herringbone tiling. There was a wall-mounted satellite flat-screen, with Blu-ray, DVD and Apple TV, which came with lengthy instructions.


The walls of the spacious bathroom were paved in matte Carrara marble. There was a big claw foot bathtub and separate standing shower with rain forest shower head. A marble bench built into the shower wall, however, crowded the space, limiting your movement. The Santa Maria Novella toiletries were plentiful, as were plush monogrammed towels, but there was no hair dryer.


On the second floor there is a lounge bar and a projection salon, which shows films every Wednesday night. On the ground floor, a large communal patio opens onto a pool and garden area. There is free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel, 24-hour room service and, perhaps the best bonus, free bikes for cruising around town.


My dinner in the eat-in kitchen downstairs consisted of overcooked pasta and a bounty of out-of-season produce. The meal’s heaviness plagued me the rest of the night. The breakfast the next morning was more successful. Twenty-two minutes after I ordered it, a spread of fresh fruit, yogurt, bread and homemade jams were served on the sunny terrace.


An enviable location in a captivating region, an impressive palatial setting and an array of amenities make Palazzo Margherita a promising destination for Italy-bound luxury travelers, though off-property dining will provide a considerably more authentic and digestible experience.