Rows of sentry-like olive trees shelter child-friendly boutique hotel Locanda Rossa – a striking russet-hued farmhouse and colourful presence in the Tuscan hinterland – with a resident donkey, Penelope, and an eco-friendly ethos. Bambini are warmly welcomed, with a pool and playground to themselves. Older Smiths can relax in the huge, urbane rooms hung with modern artwork, and linger over delicious dinners in the laid-back osteria.
Get this when you book through us:
A jar of Locanda Rossa honey and a 50 per cent discount on extra beds for little Smiths
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm for rooms and 4pm for villas.
Double rooms from £171.81 (€200), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include a generous breakfast buffet (breakfast is not included in the rates for villas, but can be added for €18 an adult a day or €10 a child (aged 3-11 a day).
The hotel’s very accommodating: let them know about allergies – or request children’s extras, food or drink – in advance and they’ll do their utmost to tailor your stay. Hotel manager Barbara – a fount of local knowledge – is happy to step in as concierge.
Annually over winter; dates vary.
At the hotel
Spa and Turkish bath, lounge, playground, football pitch, gym, boutique, free WiFi throughout. Electric bikes are available to hire on request. In-rooms: an LCD TV with satellite channels, minibar, kettle with tea and coffee, bathrobes, air-conditioning and Essenzialmente Laura bath products. Some Junior suites and suites also have a microwave, and suites and apartments each have a kitchen with an oven, microwave, fridge and freezer, toaster, utensils, crockery and cutlery.
Our favourite rooms
The Apartments are bigger than their name might suggest: these svelte modern residences are spread over three floors, sleeping up to six guests each. A full kitchen and laundry room will come in handy whether you’re in a couple or coming with family, and the private garden has a barbecue. Book early: they’re extremely popular. For smaller families, some Superior Rooms and Junior Suites can fit a baby cot.
The hotel has three pools: an outdoor pool for over-14s, heated by solar panels, close to the conservatory, with sunlounger-topped grassy banks and a small pavilion. A short stroll away, down a gravel path, is the open-air, unheated family pool, for under-14s (there are sunloungers to perch on, but little shade and no lifeguards). In the spa, there’s a 32-degree adults-only pool for over-16s.
The hotel’s ‘wellness path’ – a stress-melting journey through a Turkish bath, sauna, hydromassage pool, Argan oil black-soap scrub, and an chromotherapy shower – will compose even the most frazzled parents (the spa is for over-16s only, open 8am–8pm). If the babysitter’s on the clock, abscond to one of two treatment rooms set aside for holistic massages, facials, body scrubs and wraps, or mani-pedis. The small gym has treadmills, cycles and elliptical machines. Guests must pay an €18 entry fee (usually €25), which includes access to all facilities, slippers, a towel, water and tea; or, pay €20 for an additional bar of Argan soap and a loofah.
All the normal summer holiday fare will be useful here: cossies, kaftans and flip-flops, as well as light jumpers for chilly evenings. Bring a good pair of trainers too, for walks in the surrounding hills.
Overall, public areas are wheelchair (and pram) accessible, but a few stony paths in the grounds may prove challenging. There are a few rooms suitable for guests with mobility issues.
Children are warmly welcomed at Locanda Rossa, and there's lots for Italian-inclined little Smiths to get up to including a playground by the family pool.
Locanda caters to children of all ages.
Under-3s stay in cots (free), and single sofa beds (€25 a night for 4–6 year olds, €50 a night for over-6s) can be added to the junior suites and suites. In apartments, single sofa beds (for over-4s) are €35 a night.
A green is set aside for japery in the mini playground and kickabouts on the football pitch, or friendly games of foosball and table-tennis. Children can be let loose in the petite fenced-in playground – home to a slide, swing, trampoline and climbing frame – roam the extensive green grounds and groves, or gently pet Penelope, the resident donkey. Electric bikes, road bikes and mountain bikes can be hired for €10–€35 each (helmets can be hired too) and if you’re not a biker there’s a small selection of books and arts supplies.
A short stroll away, down a gravel path, is the open-air, unheated family pool, for under-14s.
There’s no kids menu, but portions and ingredients can be tweaked to children’s liking. Colouring books and pastels keep little ‘uns entertained between courses, and smiling serving staff can rustle up a high chair and pint-sized cutlery, or heat baby food and milk.
Local babysitters are available for €15 an hour; book more than two days in advance. None on-site. The farmhouse’s sizeable lounges and restaurants are better suited to a WiFi monitor, but a regular monitor can be used in the Apartments.
The hotel can organise birthday parties for little ones, with a cake, snacks and decorations.
There’s an apiary in the hotel grounds, and olive and fruit groves all around for use in the kitchen and products sold in the shop. Ingredients not plucked from the hotel grounds are supplied by carefully vetted local farms, fisheries and butchers. The hotel has its own fleet of electric bikes and a bank of solar panels.
Bite into fresh-from-the-barbecue burgers in your private garden, pop another cork on the Osteria’s terrace, or share a romantic meal under the restaurant’s scarlet lights: there are no wrong choices.
Locanda is a relaxed place where guests can usually wear whatever they fancy.
Aperitivi are served in the sunny conservatory leading off from the restaurant. The hotel’s slow-food philosophy errs towards simple but delicious dishes crafted from whatever’s in season in Maremma: charcuterie platters, elegant pasta dishes and farm-reared meats alla griglia with estate vegetables. Accompany with the carefully sourced local wines: a pale, fruity Vermentino or rich red Sangiovese. Lunch and dinner are served in the beamed Osteria; in the morning, a feast of local cheese and ham, house-made ciambellone cake, pastries and breads, fresh fruit and juices, tea and coffee is laid out in the sunny breakfast room. Pick up souvenirs or ingredients for light dinners in the store where the house olive oil, honey, jams, preserves, sauces and dressings are sold.
Local wines are on display in the restaurant and bar; the list is a comprehensive sweep of the region and beyond (picks include a Montedonico Viognier, a robust Montauto and Morellino de Scansano, and bottles from famed vineyard Rocca di Frassinello). The open-air conservatory overlooks the adults’ pool, but guests are equally welcome in the lounges, and there’s no need to procure a babysitter – in homey Italian style, children are welcome at any time for a glass of fresh juice, milk or soft drink.
Breakfast is served 8.00am–10.30am, lunch 12.30pm–2.30pm, and dinner 7.30pm–10pm. Cheese and meat platters can be ordered throughout the day.
Anything from the restaurant menu can be delivered to your door while the kitchen’s open; there’s a 15 per cent tray charge.
The hotel’s deep in Maremma’s countryside with little around except acres of precisely arranged olive trees. Piccolo hilltop comune Capalbio is a five-minute drive away, and the coast’s peaceful beaches are 15 minutes’ drive away.
Fly into international hub Leonardo da Vinci–Fiumicino in Rome, an hour’s drive from the hotel; British Airways, Vueling, Alitalia and EasyJet all fly direct from London and major European cities; transatlantic flights usually stop in London, and flights across the Pacific connect via the Middle East. Alternatively, fly in to Ciampino (Ryanair flies direct from the UK), a 90-minute drive away. The hotel can arrange one-way transfers by private car for €170 from Fiumicino and €190 from Ciampino.
Trains run directly from Rome Termini, Pisa Centrale and Grosseto to Capalbio station, which is 15 minutes from the hotel by car. Tickets can be bought from Trenitalia (http://www.trenitalia.com) for around €6 from Grosseto, €9 from Rome and €17 from Pisa.
A hire car is essential for ferrying your family through Tuscany’s glorious greenery. From Rome, follow the A91 and E80 roads before turning off on to Strada Pescia Fiorentina Chiarone to reach the resort on Strada Capalbio Pescia Fiorentina. There’s an Avis car-hire booth at Fiumicino and free parking at the hotel; GPS might be the easiest way to pinpoint the hotel amid the groves (latitude 42.2646, longitude 11.2728).
Worth getting out of bed for
The living is easy in this Tuscan retreat; sip wine on the shaded terrace or lounge on the lawn. Separate pools for adults and children ensure both peace and playfulness, and the super spa is ideal for ensuring R’n’R and quality time in equal measure; there are also tennis padel courts. The hotel can arrange guided walks with varying levels of difficulty throughout the region, including the Lake of Burano, the villas of Etruscan city Vulci and the 16th-century fortress at Porte Ercole. Enchanting hilltop village Capalbio is a five-minute drive away, unspoilt beaches are half an hour from the hotel, and the province is dotted with olive mills and wineries. Neighbouring Chiantishire may be crowded with celeb vineyards, but Maremma is unsung as a Tuscan holiday hotspot.
Mediaeval hilltop village Capalbio is a charming cluster of red-roofed stone houses and turrets, a five-minute drive from Locanda Rossa. Peek into the Church of St Nicholas’ Oratory of Providence to see its well-preserved Renaissance frescoes. Dine at a garden-set table at Il Frantoio, a multi-purpose venue with a bookshop, gallery, and small library. Alternatively, low-key Trattoria Toscana (+39 5 64 89 60 28) on Via IV Novembre, which has simple fare made from high-quality local produce. A short drive away lies Ultima Spiaggia, a laid-back lunching spot on a stretch of volcanic sand. Its lavish seafood buffet is great value for money, but day-bed hire is pricy (around €50 an hour for two), so nearby beaches are better for prolonged lounging.
There are plentiful local vineyards to nab an evening bottle; the reds at Erik Banti in Scansano are renowned; generous tastings at Brancaia in Grosseto (€15 a person) include a sample of their wine, grappa and olive oil; and Rocca di Frassinello (+39 56 68 84 00) in Gavarrano, designed by Renzo Piano, has a dramatic amphitheatre-style barrel vault. Head coastwards for an apericena (a buffet of light snacks with a drink), and gigantic oysters and langoustines in the convivial surrounds of Ristorante Vivo.
With a few days to spare after a late September work trip to Paris, my sister and I were looking for an Italian destination that wasn’t terribly difficult to get to (read: close to a major airport) and which scored high on the unwind-and-relax scale. Enter Locanda Rossa, a Tuscan farmhouse that has been expanded to include suites and villas spread over 41 acres of rolling hills and lush olive groves. Just an hour and a half from Rome’s airport, the property is accessible, yet still gives you the feeling of ‘getting away from it all’ with the gravel roads you have to drive down, winding through dramatic Tuscan vistas. The stay is only half an hour from Porto Ercole – the well-heeled beach town that houses the lavish Il Pellicano hotel (we stopped in for lunch and didn’t regret it – the spectacular views were worth the price tag) – and a mere five minutes from Capalbio, a picturesque Medieval village with beautifully-preserved stone walls and a handful of terrific, authentic restaurants. A car is necessary for exploring the area, but you also might not want to leave the property, which, with its wide range of activities, paths to explore, and smattering of outbuildings feels like summer camp. Note: kids abound, so if you’re looking to enjoy the stellar free breakfast (don’t miss the local jams and freshly-baked cakes) in silence, then think twice.
We arrived at Locanda Rossa late in the evening and despite our stay being slightly off-season (temperatures in October are in the sixties and low seventies), the property and restaurant were buzzing. We sat outside on cosy benches in a mowed clearing (which we decided would be perfect for a wedding or party, should we return with 40 of our closest friends) and ate olives and sipped a local wine while we waited for a table. The main dining room was packed (making a reservation is highly advised), so we ended up eating in the ‘bar room’ extension, which was – perhaps a little too – bright and more casual, but didn’t prevent us from enjoying a fresh whole fish, fabulous lasagna, and excellent wines. The food is thoughtful and local, but is not overthought. It feels like true farm-to-table cuisine, and if we had an extra day, a cooking class with the chef would have been high on our list.
Exhausted from the travelling and generous dinner, we were eager to retire – and the rooms at Locanda Rossa guarantee a great night’s sleep. Renovated with cheery paint colors, printed fabrics and huge showers, what you might miss in rustic Italian decor is happily made up for in space and comfort. The contemporary rooms – outfitted with espresso machines, USB plugs (yes please), private gardens, and expansive bathrooms – feel like tremendous value and somewhere you could spread out in and stay for days. For breakfast, we walked to a glass-walled atrium adjacent to where we dined the night before. Gravel roads and grassy walkways connect the rooms to the dining area (one of the property’s two pools, flanked by beautiful chairs and umbrellas, is also here) and heighten the summer-camp sensation. However, here lattes are offered with any kind of milk imaginable (an uncommon delight in Italy) and guests’ attire ranges from chic sundresses to bike gear – evidence of the range of activities to partake in.
The staff are attentive, but not overbearing, and the concierges were readily available to help with booking a wine tour for us at a neighbouring vineyard. They coordinated a handful of dinner reservations (venturing into the coastal towns of Porto Ercole and Porto Santo Stefano were highlights), and were able to suggest things to do in the surroundings. There’s a lot, should you desire adventures, from exploring the beaches in high season to mountain biking to visiting Nikki de Saint Phalle’s trippy Tarot Garden: a sculpture garden just down the road with staggering mosaicked forms and fountains that exist in stark contrast to the bucolic surroundings.
We spent a lot of time traversing the countryside and exploring the small towns that dot the Tuscan Hills, but next time we return, I’ll be spending more time at the hotel itself. Even when fully booked, it's so spacious that you feel like you have room to roam, and with a full spa (that we didn't get a chance to use; it was booked) and luxurious lounge chairs, I was yearning for a few more days at Locanda just to chill. The WiFi was finicky, but perhaps all the more reason to return and simply unplug. The rural setting begs to be admired and enjoyed, and the overly comfortable rooms invite long sleeps. The restaurant is so good that there’s not much reason to leave, and the property is one that I’m eager to explore more. We could have stayed for days and not been bored. All the more reason to come back.