Borgo Egnazia is castle-like and candle-lit, built in imitation of a traditional village (borgo) but with luxurious add-ons, including a Michelin-starred restaurant, championship golf course, two beach clubs with private beaches – one sandy, one pebbly – and a knock-out spa that bases its treatments on ancient Puglian rituals. Rooms are styled with rural romance: almond-filled baskets, bird cages, egg-shaped ornaments and rope-strung keys are just a few of the trimmings.
63 bedrooms (including seven suites) in La Corte, the castle-like main building, 92 bedrooms in the Borgo and 28 villas.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Guests can use the pool and beach before check-in, though.
Double rooms from £530.50 (€629), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.
For guests staying in the Villa Magnifica, airport transfers, a personal massaie (butler and chef), bike hire, babysitting, a round of golf, laundry, customised bath experience and gifts on arrival and departure.
Booked a villa? You'll get a host of extras including bicycles; a dedicated local adviser who can point you towards the best restaurants, hidden beaches and day trips; and a massaia to serve breakfast, housekeep and do the laundry. Some of the larger villas come with even more, such as a golf cart, compact car and private cabana at the beach club; guests of Villa Magnifica and Villa Meravigliosa get free transfers, too.
At the hotel
Golf course, two private beaches, two beach clubs, 40-acre grounds, spa, gym, yoga studio, hairdressers, bike hire (from €15 a day), free WiFi throughout. In rooms: LCD TV with a Bluetooth connection and on-demand movies, speakers in the bathroom, minibar, L'Amande bath products. Villas have an iPod dock too.
Our favourite rooms
Of La Corte’s rooms (all of which have a balcony), we like the Grand Suites for their generous terrace and separate living room. The Egnazia Suite has a private garden and terrace, sociable living and dining area, dressing room, fireplace and an outdoor plunge pool. Borgo Cassetta Bella rooms are more rustic and colourful, with the added benefit of the village-life feel. Borgo Townhouse rooms have a kitchenette and rooftop terrace; Borgo Cassetta Magnifica rooms have a private patio and garden. The villas, which each sleep up to eight, are great for families.
There are four options for bathing: a heated pool inside the main building (children must be supervised here), two pools by La Corte and one family-friendly pool in the Borgo (heated in the cooler months, mid-September to mid-June). The pools are open year-round and have plenty of sun loungers and parasols; three have lifeguards. Alternatively, pack towels and a picnic and head for the (private) sandy beach (the hotel has a free shuttle service). There’s a second, rocky beach too.
From an á la carte selection of tempting treatments to multiple-day pampering programmes, the adults-only Vair spa is designed to relax, nourish and renew your body inside and out. Take you pick between the happiness-inducing Arangion massage, the deeply cleansing Usual facial or a glittering Or body scrub: if you can't choose just one, try one of the body treatments that combine several therapies. For a unique spa experience, try one of the Roman bath rituals which include a candlelit soak in their stone-clad suite of baths; a tepidarium, a caldarium and a frigidarium, plus a bio-sauna, hammam and flotation pool. Add a final touch to a luxurious spa day, have your hair and make-up done by one their trained specialists. For the ultimate spa stay, book one of their several-day programs. Whatever ailment you're suffering from, or area you want to target, you'll find a program to suit: Na Maele promises physical and psychological detox, Masciar will help your posture and release muscular tensions, and Zaffir is desgined for the solo traveller, or those wanting a few days of alone time to focus on their health and wellbeing.
Bring trainers and your gym kit for morning jogs.
From 15 June to 15 September, children under 13 aren't able to stay in rooms in La Corte, the main building; families with under-13s can stay in the Borgo area or in the villas.
If you contact the hotel in advance, small dogs (up to 10 kilos) are allowed on request in some room categories and in the Piazza del Borgo, La Frasca restaurant, Cala Masciola beach club if on a lead or kept in a dog travel bag. See more pet-friendly hotels in Puglia.
Under-3s sleep in cots for free; extra beds can be added for pre-teens (for an additional fee). Half-board meals are €25 a child, each night. There’s a crèche and three kids clubs. Babysitting is €15 an hour, €20 after midnight (give 48 hours’ notice).
Kids of all ages are very welcome.
The Borgo rooms have the most space and are close to the family pool. The split-level Casetta Bella rooms have a little patio garden. The three-bedroom villas have ample indoor and outdoor space with a private pool and landscaped garden.
There’s a crèche for babies and under-3s with a sleeping room with four cots, changing areas, bottle warmers and facilities for warming up baby food. The crèche costs €15 an hour or €45 half day and €90 a day, and prices include private babysitting and lunch (book a week ahead in high season). Extra beds for pre-teens (children aged 12-and-under) can be added for an additional charge.
There's Trullalleri for children aged three to seven (free) and Marinai Kids Club for children aged eight to 12; these kids clubs have indoor and outdoor areas and stashes of toys. There’s one member of staff for every two children, so little ones are well taken care of. Activities on offer include: theatre workshops, dancing, face painting, bracelet-making and cookery classes. Older children can pick from tennis, swimming, bike rides, trips to the zoo and trips to the local ruins. Staff help children put on productions and plays in the evenings. Children can also be fed at the club for an extra cost, if parents request this: a buffet lunch is served in Due Camini and dinner is served in the children’s area of Trattoria La Mia Cucina. There's also the Tarantari Kids Club for teenagers (13-16); as well as hanging out in the games room, which has a Wii, Xbox, ping pong table, beach toys and table football, teens can join a football academy, and take part in cooking classes, dance contests, go-karting and watersports activities.
There's a family-friendly pool (with a life guard) in the Borgo (heated in the cooler months, mid-September to mid-June). There are three other pools to take your pick of.
Children aged 12-and-older are welcome in Due Camini; menus include burgers, pasta with meatballs, vegetable soup, mashed potatoes and the ilk. Casual La Frasca is also great for relaxed meals with the kids in tow. There are baby-changing facilities near La Frasca. Beach restaurant Cala Masciola elevates the kids menu above the ubiquitous chicken nugget, with tasty yet healthful dishes such as tubettini pasta with fish ragout, veal escalope with lemon and puff pastry with custard and sour cherries for dessert. Children using the kids club can have their meals provided (if parents request this in advance; for an extra cost), or half-board meals are €25 a child, each night.
Babysitting can be arranged with 48 hours’ notice. It' €15 an hour, or €20 after midnight.
No need to pack
Highchairs; baby monitors
Birthday parties and other events can be organised through the kids club: just talk to staff when you’re booking childcare.
Head to the covered terrace, where you can enjoy warmth and shade simultaneously. In colder months, take a table beside the fireplace.
Linen and Lanvin. Gents are asked not to wear shorts in the main restaurant.
The main restaurant, Due Camini, open all year round, is set in the main building. The food is traditional Pugliese (grilled octopus, beef fillet with myrtle, gnocchi with cherry tomatoes and the ilk) the menu changes with the weather and the hotel is pretty much self-sufficient: anything that isn’t homegrown is plucked from nearby. Neutral colours, lots of tufa rock, soft lighting and white furniture add up to a serene setting; glass bottles suspended from the ceiling, lanterns hanging off poles and wooden ladders rested up against the walls keep things characterful. From 15 June to 15 September, children under 12 aren't allowed in Due Camini. There are three other restaurants: La Frasca serves buffets and barbecues in the Borgo, and has a garden area for little ones; Trattoria Mia Cucina hosts cookery classes and serves traditional local dishes. Pescheria da Vito (open 12.30pm–3.30pm and 7.30pm–10.30pm, daily), set on the private beach, faces the sea – a picturesque setting for meals of grilled fresh fish, light salads and plates of pasta. Beach restaurant Cala Masciola is open for lunches and dinners (times change with the seasons) and serves up the likes of grilled octopus, spaghetti with clams, lobster and – of course – freshly caught fish.
Sit amid the glass jars filled with dried pulses and cinnamon sticks at Bar del Portico, next to the restaurant in the main building, and sip a Borgo Egnazia Special (an icy muddle of apple vodka, Galliano, mint syrup and pink-grapefruit juice). In summer, a pianist plays during apéritifs and dinner. The hotel has three other summer watering holes: Capanno, an open-air bar by the main pools, L’Angoletto in the Borgo and Caffe della Piazzetta on the piazza.
Bar Portico quenches guests' thirsts until 1am. Due Camini and Quattro Torri serve breakfast between 7am and 10.30am (you can also breakfast at La Frasca), lunch between 12.30pm and 2.30pm and dinner between 7.30pm and 10.30pm.
Have Continental or à la carte breakfast delivered between 6am–11am; sandwiches are available from 11am–11pm, as is an all-day à la carte and kids’ menu (noon–3pm and 6pm–9pm). There's also a late-night menu (10.30pm–6am).
The hotel is set in a scenic seaside patch of Puglia, surrounded by the San Domenico Golf course. Brindisi is a 50-minute drive away.
Most international arrivals fly into into Bari, 60km from the hotel; our Smith24 team can book your flights if needed. The hotel can provide transfers: €130 for up to three passengers in a car, €150 for up to eight passengers in a minivan. The other option is Brindisi Airport, which is served by fewer routes but is slightly closer (53km from the hotel).
Fasano’s station is 5km away, with services to Monopoli and various villages in Ostuni.
From the SS16 to Bari-Brindisi, take the exit for Savelletri/Stazione di Fasano. After 2km, follow the yellow signs pointing to Borgo Egnazia and San Domenico Golf. The hotel has free parking and plenty of it.
Worth getting out of bed for
Yogis rejoice, the hotel has a state-of-the-art yoga studio manned by a team of highly-qualified instructors from Puglia, all with an in-depth understanding of and training in Iyengar yoga. Join in one of the small group classes (for over-18s only), or arrange a private lesson that's specialised tailored to your goals (available for one to eight guests, prices vary).
The hotel is right next to the San Domenico Golf course: perfect your swing on its breathtakingly pretty green seaside sweeps. The hotel has two beach clubs to enjoy, one on a sandy beach and one on a rocky beach (a free shuttle service is provided). Puglia has plenty of historic hilltop villages to explore – bring a car if you can. Go on a day trip to nearby Ostuni, Alberobello or Polignano a Mare.
Venture out to La Nassa, attached to the San Domenico a Mare hotel. It’s another great place for fresh seafood and coastal views: try the calamari and crab. Osteria di Chichibio’s antipasti alone is worth half an hour in the car; the seafood (sushi especially) is worth splashing out on and there’s an impressive wine list that does justice to the region (no mean feat). Dress to impress – the feel is sultry – and book ahead, or you may have to fight a local for your seat.
Borgo Egnazia comes out of nowhere. Down a multitude of minute windy lanes where wiry black snakes wiggle across the burning tarmac and olive groves bake in the sun, the hotel has been crafted perfectly to fit into the local landscape in a uniform but striking white stone. But more about the getting-there part first.
I’d been blaring out ‘Just one more Cornetto, give it to me...’ for a few days to our kids trying to give them a little flavor of Italy before their first trip to the beautiful country. We’d pored over a map and been through the boot and ball analogy of Italy and Sicily and sung that rhyme too. Now we were stepping off the aeroplane into a blast of Mediterranean warmth eagerly escaping a turgid and wintry early summer in the UK.
Our friendly driver pushed his way through the throng and grabbed our numerous bags, rucksacks, baby buggies and last-minute duty-free bottles and whisked us into an air-conditioned minivan.
Puglia can look barren and the drive from the airport to the hotel isn’t too eventful with various villages and concrete heavy towns not looking hugely inviting. We were about to find out that behind that average appearance there can be a lot more than meets the eye.
A warm welcome from the white uniformed staff at chic Borgo Egnazia chaperones us into the cool of the hotel itself, a labyrinth of cool stone tunnels, alcoves and ideal spots for the kids to play hide and seek and romancing couples to smooch away the afternoon.
Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Borgo Egnazia, which took local architect Pino Brescia 10 years to complete. Rather than simply build a hotel, Pino raised up a village: guests get a map to help navigate themselves around the sprawl of traditional trulli and, if you stay in the Borgo rooms, you’ll be sent a bolletino (bulletin) advertising events in the piazza. The hotel grounds are vast, one of the biggest spaces we’ve ever stayed in, but it’s a pleasure to stroll about through the replica streets of a bygone era, like walking through a film set of an Italianate cowboy town. Borgo Egnazia even has its own customized bike shop with low riders, go-karts and streamlined racers for hire for you to get around the place.
And what a place it is. The Vair Spa is a haven of tranquility in the cool, dim, basement of the hotel; the seaside restaurant is but a short golf buggy drive away across the award-winning golf course and a must see with incredibly shaped rock lobsters to tuck into washed down with a glass of vino bianco and the Reading Room and Cigar Room are escapes from the hubbub when it all gets a bit too much.
Our eldest son loved playing football with the sporty kids club workers who never seemed to tire of a sweaty match under a burning Mediterranean sun with children of all ages, while I investigated the olive groves for creepy crawlies with the younger ones. There’s never a dull moment for the wee ones with trips to the beach, arts and crafts afternoons and terrifyingly messy pizza making workshops.
Surrounding the hotel are some of the simplest but tastiest trattorias we’ve ever been to, and there we sampled endless small plates of fresh octopus, homemade pastas and bug-eyed monsters fresh from the sea while the local fish market in the nearest village is a fascinating scene of snapping claws, thrashing tails and colourful fish – it had the younger members of our party enthralled.
But back to the hotel – because the truth is you might never even want to leave. Spoilt for choice between the wood-fired pizzas of the relaxed poolside restaurant and the gourmet masterpieces served up in the posher dining room we were permanently stuffed as we waddled around contentedly.
As night falls a son et lumière – sound and light – effect takes over as the sun sets and the beautifully lit angles and nooks and crannies cast giant shadows across the piazza. Finding myself doing all the moves to YMCA at 9pm every night might not seem the natural choice for a trendsetting Radio 1 DJ with his own festivals, but I have to say after having unofficially retired from the dancefloor years ago, the nightly kids’ disco which is held in one corner in summer reinvigorated my love of a boogie… even it was slightly powered by a glass or two of the local grappa.
Unlike other regions of Italy, Puglia has kept hold of its sense of myth and mystery, and the hotel’s styling reflects this. Rooms are hewn from pale, craggy tufa rock, the palette relies on cream and white, muslin drapes hang above the beds, and the decorations abound with rural whimsy: bundles of dark metal wire tied with string, glass cases filled with old keys and pages torn from books, slabs of stone suspended from the ceiling, lanterns on the walls and beds haloed with soft yellow lighting.
It’s not merely fanciful, though: a great deal of thought has gone into keeping guests from boredom. If you’re not content with the golf course outside your bedroom or the Adriatic just on your doorstep, there are mozzarella tastings, cookery classes, museum visits and windsurfing lessons to take part in. Working out what to do here isn’t the problem; working out how to pack it all into one holiday is.
We left Borgo Egnazia a fatter, happier family but sad to see our Italian paradise disappear into the dusty distance from our rear-view mirror. So see you soon, or ‘arrivederci’ our beautiful Italian friend.