The Travel Cocktail

Rooms with Views: Castel Monastero

A stay under the Tuscan Sun (and rain)…

It was a very wet late summer afternoon when I arrived to the iron gates of the stone castle village that is Castel Monastero. I was excited to see this 12th century hamlet from the moment my car from the airport drove up the dusty path from the road of vineyards and sunflower fields -which sadly had turned brown the week before and I had just missed seeing the bobbing yellow faces. Normally this would be a busy time of year but in the age of Covid, tourism was at a historic low with only a handful of European tourists checked in. This suited me just fine as it made me feel like I had run of the castle so to speak.

Through the gate into the pretty courtyard I couldn’t help but feel almost on a movie set, the perfection of charming red geraniums and a water well in the centre with decorative iron work on the top. Almost perfect except for the pelting rain. Luckily hotel reception was just off the gate entrance as I was greeted with enthusiasm. Check in done the property consists of different sections, some just outside the gates as well as inside along the perimeters of the courtyard. I was taken just near by to one of the courtyard sections and led up some outdoor steps and then up some more deep stone steps to my room which was stylish and cozy. Warm earth colours and a wonderful pastoral landscape scene over the plush bed to reflect the surrounding countryside. I was pleased with the large room with views over Tuscany and the bathroom window looked right over the courtyard. The large bathroom had a big bathtub separate shower, and a wide sink area and was a luxurious room onto itself.

With the rain still coming down I went exploring the extensive property… A former medieval village, there is a monastery on the property, and modern additions like a swimming pool and spa which unfortunately I didn’t get to as I decided to go for a bit of wine tasting in their small bar area right next to their cozy library. I was in Tuscany after all so a Super Tuscan was in order and it felt nice to really relax in a deep leather chair and just enjoy the moment.

Normally there are 2 restaurants on the premises but between the pandemic and the weather only one was open and that more than enough as it was a relaxed fine dining restaurant off their wine cellars serving local up market specialties to pair with all those impressive Chianti wines. Service was very helpful and happy to offer wine suggestions. Lucky for me my room was just up the steps from the restaurant so I definitely enjoyed a bit of wine -and grappa – before bedtime.

Next morning was a whole new day. Sun was out bright and warm which meant breakfast could be served in the courtyard which I have to say was a treat. A wonderful breakfast buffet (with assisted service due to Covid) and of course any hot breakfast could be made up. I enjoyed my coffee slowly.

While out in the country the hotel is perfectly positioned to get to many of the popular Tuscan towns and villages. Siena is only 20 minutes away. Most places are a manageable one hour distance by car. If you prefer not to rent a car (there is parking for guest cars) the hotel will happily arrange a car and driver and even plan special excursions like wine tasting in Montalcino or seasonal truffle hunting. Should you want to take it easy there is a on sight professional Spa and an outdoor swimming pool. Then there is always the beautiful countryside to hike through.

I enjoyed going to visit the nearby towns by day and come back to the coziness of my castle just in time for a spectacular sunset and a sophisticated glass of wine before another delicious meal at the restaurant. Then pausing at the arch of the loggia on the way to my room to admire the moon before slipping into a comfortable cloud of my bed.

If you want to spend time in Tuscany beyond a day trip from one of the big cities I highly recommend a hotel stay at Castel Monastero. It has all the creature comforts of a luxury escape without giving up the rural charm in the Chianti vineyards. And Castel Monastero’s historic 12th century stone village is a uniquely special way to experience Tuscany

Please note I paid for my own stay, and this review is based on my own personal experience staying at the hotel.

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