Many a hotel might claim to be in tune with nature, but as a working wine estate in the heart of pastoral Piedmont, Nordelaia can’t help but nail that harmony. Decadent rooms, the work of award-winning studio These White Walls, take Piedmont as their muse, from the region’s well-defined seasons to the forest beyond the French windows. Stir from your suite, and all the perks of life on a winery await – sommelier-led tastings, trips to local artisans and hill-clinging woodland walks. The hotel’s treasures aren’t the reserve of outdoorsy types, though. Some would argue its bounty is best enjoyed in the two restaurants, spun into regional specialities by a Michelin-starred chef. And with valley-spanning views from the two pools and the spa, even the most resolute relaxation-seekers won’t miss out.
Latest check-out is 11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from £300.90 (€355), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates include á la carte breakfast.
The hotel’s wine label, Calligram, currently includes reds and rosés starring the region’s traditional Barbera and Dolcetto grape varieties. Watch this space, though – with three hectares of Pinot Noir just planted, there’s a much-anticipated sparkling Metodo Classico in the works.
At the hotel
Spa with hammam, banya-style sauna and Kneipp pool, gym, two outdoor pools, games room, free WiFi throughout. In rooms: minibar, kettle, Comfort Zone bath products, free WiFi.
Our favourite rooms
Award-winning studio These White Walls has drawn on the hotel’s bucolic surroundings and centuries of history. Every room tells a different chapter of the estate’s story, carefully illustrated with hand-picked antiques and furnishings by local artisans – design buffs, you have a tough choice ahead. Our hearts belong to the four Legacy Rooms, each inspired by a different season; the Estate suite, with its summery Cimabue hues, grand four-poster bed and secret doorway to the bathroom is hard to resist.
There’s an unheated outdoor pool on the terrace, complete with a clutch of loungers and views over the vine-strung valley. In the spa, you’ll find a heated outdoor infinity pool, the perfect eyrie from which to spy eagles on the forest-clad hillside opposite.
The hotel’s globe-trotting spa is home to ahh-inducing innovations from around the world. Hop between the hammam, the banya-style sauna and the herb-laced therapeutic Kneipp bath, then choose from a menu of massages and rituals masterminded by eco-conscious Italian brand Comfort Zone. There’s also a yoga room and a gym with views across the valley, but if you don’t want to have to break a sweat for your scenery, head to the heated infinity pool overlooking the forest-hugged hills instead.
Your sturdiest wicker basket, ready for filling with foraged finds, picnic treats or simply as many wine bottles as will fit.
The Fiordaliso Garden Room is wheelchair accessible.
The hotel isn’t particularly geared towards kids, but children of all ages are welcome.
At a hotel flanked by leafy hills and fertile farmland, going green just makes sense. In the two restaurants, menus shift with the seasons and showcase ingredients grown onsite or sourced from small local suppliers. The Comfort Zone spa and bath products are made in Italy from vegan, cruelty-free ingredients and come in carbon-neutral packaging that keeps plastic use to a minimum.
For a light bite at Bistrot, sink into a sage green sofa. Upstairs at L’Orto, those floor-to-ceiling windows were made for dinner with a vineyard view.
Landed Ligurian: feather-light linens for warm alfresco evenings, silk and snuggliest merino for winter.
Sporting towering arches of mirrored-glass windows, the orangery-esque building that houses the hotel’s two restaurants can’t help but reflect the scenery it calls home. The connection to the local countryside isn’t just superficial, though – commitment to Piedmont’s local produce informs every dish on Michelin-starred chef Andrea Ribaldone’s seasonal menus.
At Bistrot, regional specialities and sun-ripened salads are rustled up with ingredients from small local suppliers, supplemented with homegrown veg fresh from the kitchen garden. The light-filled dining room, decked out in dark wood and elegant art-deco touches, pours out onto a cobbled terrace crying out for wine-fuelled alfresco dinners.
Upstairs, fine-dining restaurant L’Orto revels in panoramic hillside views. Chic blush-pink furnishings set off the rolling green views and bauble-like lights illuminate walls of open wine racks. Fresh-caught Ligurian seafood is the star of the three- and four-course set menus, while the Walk in the Garden menu works magic with produce grown in the hotel’s vegetable garden. If you fancy putting your fate in seasoned hands, plump for the chef’s mysterious tasting menu.
On your marks, oenophiles – the hotel’s marble-top bar, sitting in the centre of the Bistrot restaurant, boasts a wine list just as impressive as you’d expect. Once you’ve worked your way through the hotel’s homegrown offerings, there’s a bounty of Piedmontese bottles to try, and that’s before you’ve branched out to the rest of Italy. If geeky grape-talk is all Greek to you, never fear – a couple of tastings with Nordelaia’s seasoned sommelier and you’ll know your anfora from your acacia-aged in no time.
Bistrot serves breakfast daily from 8am to 10.30am; lunch from 12.30pm to 3pm; and dinner from 7.30pm to 10.30pm daily except Wednesdays. L’Orto serves weekend lunches, and dinner Wednesday to Sunday. The bar is open from 8.30am to 10.30pm.
Drinks and breakfast can be delivered straight to your room.
The hotel is on a wine estate in the Monferrato region of Piedmont – prepare for humpback hills, ivy-clad castles and vineyards as far as the eye can see.
The nearest international hub is Milan Malpensa Airport, just under a two-hour drive away. Alternatively, flights from London-Stansted, Paris and several other European cities touch down at Genoa Airport. From there, it’s around an hour’s drive. The hotel can arrange airport transfers for €250 each way.
The hotel can arrange local excursions, but if you want to roam the region solo, you’ll need a car. There’s a car park at the hotel, and valet parking is available on request.
Worth getting out of bed for
Don’t hold back at breakfast – there’s a hard day’s unwinding ahead. Take a turn about the ornamental garden, then settle into a tree-shaded hammock for a snooze with a view. At some point, you’ll need to pick which pool you want to paddle in first – tough choice, we know, but the spa is close at hand with its hammam, sauna and stress-melting massages if it all gets a bit much. Lazy afternoons are best spent sliding between sun-warmed terraces and the cool of the L’Orto bar; on cosy evenings, follow the click of the cue ball to the games room.
Beyond your enviably cosseted cocoon, this is still a working wine estate – venture out and there are five hectares of vineyards and farmland to explore. From foraging forays and cookery classes to grape chats with local growers, the hotel can arrange it all. Further afield, strike out on lake-lapping cycles and hill-scaling hikes in the Capanne di Marcarolo Natural Regional Park. Hawk-eyed history buffs will spot the medieval crenellations of Cremolino Castle on the neighbouring hillside. Heed its call to discover more about the region’s feudal past. And if that doesn’t scratch your sightseeing itch, Genoa, with its gilded palazzi and cobblestoned caruggi, is an hour’s drive away.
With two restaurants serving up Ligurian seafood and the cream of Piedmont’s seasonal crop, there’s little need to stray from Nordelaia to get your culinary kicks.
That said, a pesto pilgrimage to Genoa – the green stuff’s city of origin – is a must for any sauce buff worth their salt. You won’t find better than at Trattoria delle Grazie, where the vaulted ceiling and cosy exposed brick hark back to the medieval heyday of the Genoan republic. Arrive early – you’ll be going toe-to-toe with the local cool crowd for a table – and tuck into silky sheets of mandilli pasta slathered in pesto fresh from the pestle, plus handy hunks of bread for bowl-mopping. Rumour has it you’ll find the best tiramisu in town here, too.
From alfresco tastings to a tour of the estate’s vines, the hotel has your wine-country wishlist covered. Venture south and you won’t be short of spots for an evening tipple on the town. Set beneath the frescoed ceilings and age-worn arches of the old Imperial Palace, Les Rouges is the jewel in Genoa’s cocktail crown. There’s a spirited menu of seasonal creations, but the signature margherita is a long-standing local favourite.
Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this vineyard hotel in Monferrato, stretched their spa-soothed muscles and unpacked their wealth of wine, a full account of their rural retreat will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Nordelaia in Piedmont…
The villa that Nordelaia now occupies has stood sentinel on its southern Piedmont hillside for 800 years; for a long chapter of that history, it was the summer home of a famed Ligurian family. Centuries on, it’s not hard to see why the wine-rich hills of Monferrato were a hot-weather haunt of yesteryear’s high society – sun-drenched vines and starlit alfresco suppers have retained their appeal across the ages. Modern additions of cooling pools and hammock-strung terraces make summers here a more inviting prospect than ever, but further twenty-first century tweaks mean that today, Nordelaia is fine-tuned to the tempo of all the seasons.
Under the gentler sun of spring, days are filled with breezy vineyard bike rides and foraging expeditions for the season’s fresh shoots. Come autumn, the Piedmontese hills are painted a patchwork of fiery hues. On the estate, this is the season of crisp morning hikes, truffle hunting and hearty game-filled dinners, all scored by the well-rehearsed hum of the wine harvest. Winter is biting, but the hotel is well-equipped for hibernation. When the chill sets in, the spa becomes a warren of warming indulgence. Holing up doesn’t mean missing out on the scenery, though – from well-concealed nooks to walls of floor-to-ceiling panes, days could be lost settling on a favourite window seat. Once found, all that remains to do is burrow under a mountain of furs and survey the snow-blanketed hills beyond.
The nobility knew what they were doing when they made this slice of southern Piedmont their summertime stamping ground, no doubt about it. But if they’d had the benefit of Nordelaia’s bells and whistles, they surely would’ve stayed year-round.