Picture a Tuscan escape: maybe you’re several bottles deep into a vineyard tour, dining beneath the Duomo or reacquainting yourself with the Renaissance greats… You’re probably not hoiking yourself up a tree, helping to feed Limousin cattle or falling asleep to wolfish howls, but Oasyhotel offers a whole new way to enjoy the rustic region. Set on the protected Dynamo Oasis Nature Reserve, this is a stay where luxury lies in the wealth of nature that’s yours to roam. And it’s not just the possibilities for play it offers, but dining derived from ancient agricultural tradition, fostering a true connection to the land and its strong eco-friendly and altruistic streaks.
16 luxury lodges, 14 doubles and two for families.
11am, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £309.10 (€357), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include a farm-fresh breakfast of fresh loaves with organic jam and honey, fruity pies and tarts, house cereals, yoghurts, fruits, juices and coffee. Plus watersports, e-bikes and a shuttle service. A two-night minimum stay applies.
Request a movable feast to take out into the forest – the kitchen will pack you a picnic basket filled with goodies grown and made onsite and a blanket. And, you can take a little bit of Italy home with you: the online shop sells pastas, biscuits, honeys and jams, bio cheeses, fruity nectars and more. For a little more local flavour, browse the works by local artists in the visitors' centre.
The hotel is open annually from 5 April to 5 November.
At the hotel
Stables, lake for watersports, cinema, spa treatment rooms, visitor centre with art gallery, concierge, laundry service (for an extra charge), shuttle service around the resort, free WiFi. In rooms: e-bikes, Bluetooth radio, bar corner with fresh juices, water, a Nespresso coffee machine and Dammann teas, Oasi Dynamo bath products.
Our favourite rooms
In contrast to Florence’s bedazzled historic villas, Oasy’s lodges are stylishly austere. Fully timbered with locally logged wood, the only adornments are a coloured throw on the bed, snuggable linens, artwork depicting natural scenes and the odd sprig of greenery; but you need little else when the full force of nature is framed by large windows or can be lazily marvelled at from your veranda. Families should note that the family lodges have two sets of bunks, so parents hoping for a little romance should book a separate secluded lodge.
Oasy is all about buoying physical and mental wellbeing, and massages with organic lotions and potions are an important part of this, carried out in three treatment rooms. And yoga classes are held three times a week in the open air (or occasionally on top of a mountain).
Clothing for clambering up a trunk, paddling through a lake, saluting the sun at altitude and basking in the glow of a bonfire.
Due to the rugged terrain, Oasy isn't best suited for guests with mobility issues.
One dog under 20kg is allowed in each lodge. A cleaning fee of €75 applies and your furry friend will get treats, a mat, pillow, bowl and baggies. Dogs must be leashed outside lodges. See more pet-friendly hotels in Tuscany.
Welcome, and your little cubs will take to this wonderland like a re-integrated wolf pack. Family Lodges sleep four in two sets of bunk-beds.
All ages can stay, but most activities are geared towards over-eights.
The Family Lodge has two sets of bunk-beds, so it’s where to stash the kids. Or, in a Double Lodge, it’s €100 a night to use the lodge’s sofa bed for under-12s.
As a rule of thumb, what enchants adults here is equally thrilling for little ones, so they can partake in pretty much all the outdoorsy fun, frolicking in the lake, and mucking in on the farm. Plus learning how to track animals and build emergency shelters. The visitor’s centre has lots of age-appropriate learning materials too, and there's ping-pong and table football in the games room.
There's a dedicated kids' menu, but dishes don’t make too much of a fuss here – it’s simple delicious fare that can easily cross over to the kids’ table.
No need to pack
Bring pint-size wellies and rainproof clothing for muddy walks, and download a nature-identification app so smalls can learn about the different types of trees and critters.
Oasyhotel has an exemplary back-to-the-land ethos. Their mission is to create eco-friendly properties in some of Italy’s most beautiful natural parks working alongside the WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature). But these aren’t just boltholes for a green holiday, they’re nerve centres for conservation, eco-sound agriculture, breeding programmes and scientific research. The Oasi Dynamo reserve was once hunting ground until the WWF recovered and transformed the land, protecting the biodiverse plantlife and species within. Then, agricultural enterprise Oasi Dynamo Società Agricola implemented traditional non-intensive farming and forestry methods alongside regenerative tourism, to make a largely self-sufficient outpost (all food produced onsite goes straight to the kitchen or is sold in the online shop, with all proceeds going directly towards running costs). Pigs and cows are reared onsite, berries of all kinds are cultivated, orchards have been nurtured, ancient grains grown, and chestnuts are used to make flour; and all produce is bio-certified. Rare plants and troubled endemic species (red-backed shrike, black woodpecker) are given the opportunity to thrive here, and the reserve welcomes students and scientists, who track, log and study the animals and help with breeding programmes. You can find out more at the onsite visitor centre. The simple yet stylish hotel lodges are built in natural materials with little disturbance to the surroundings, and guests are given e-bikes to cover the wooded expanse; plus experiences are mostly nature-based. And, the hotel has a strong altruistic streak too; working alongside the non-profit Dynamo Foundation, they run an academy where local children learn about conservation and farming, and a yearly camp for children living with serious and chronic diseases, where there’s a programme of therapeutic activities.
Out in the fresh air during the hotel’s barbecue sessions. Or resting on your veranda with a drink in hand.
Signore McDonald had lots of charm, si, aye, si, aye, oh!
There are two restaurants on site, Le Felci and Casa Luigi. Much like the lodges, Le Felci lets the landscape do the talking – dining here feels like a grown-up summer camp, with canvas chairs, wood beams supporting a banqueting hall, a designer take on gas lanterns hung from tentpole-like struts. But, fear not, in lieu of mess tins, meals are ravishing rustic affairs where each ingredient’s provenance can be pinpointed to somewhere within the park borders (everything is grown within a kilometre of the hotel’s front door). The – largely plant-based – menus change with the season, but you might have a spinach and endive mille-feuille with ricotta from the hotel’s dairy, purple potatoes with cream, almonds and julienned red radicchio, hand-reared larded pork fillet in a red-grape reduction, and amaranth cheesecake with berries. Casa Luigi is a standalone farmhouse on the estate, which can be booked privately on request, where meats are grilled, simple homemade pastas are served and cheeses and charcuterie are laid out to pick at – all to be washed down with bio wines and local beers.
Those who indulge will be glad to hear there’s a free-range approach to drinking here and no-one will mind if you walk your tipple over to your lodge, although you can also socialise at Le Felci lounge. Obviously, the wines are top-drawer and hail from some renowned Tuscan vineyards, but the cocktails, composed using fruits and fixings from the grounds, are worthy of your attenzione too.
Le Felci serves breakfast from 7.30am to 10.30am and dinner from 7.30pm to 9.30pm. Le Felci lounge and Casa Luigi serve lunch from 12 noon to 4pm. Drinks are poured from 12 noon to 11pm.
Oasyhotel sits unobtrusively cushioned in the trees of the Dynamo Oasis Nature Reserve, whose leafy majesty spreads over 1,000 hectares. Set within Tuscany’s Pistoiese Apennines, the terrain has its ups and downs in picturesque fashion.
You can take your pick of Tuscany’s three most important airports; the nearest is Florence’s Amerigo Vespucci Airport, which is around an hour’s drive away (flights arrive direct here from major European cities); Pisa is a 90-minute drive away and has a slightly larger spread of connections; and Bologna is two hours away, but services flights from as far away as Iceland and the UAE. On request the hotel can arrange transfers in a minivan from €400 one-way.
Pistoia train station is a 45-minute drive away from the hotel and you can ride the rail straight here from Florence Santa Maria Novella. Minivan transfers can be arranged for €200 one-way. San Mommè is also close by, a 40-minute drive away.
Cars are a no-no in the greenest bits of the reserve, but Tuscany is rich in cinematic scenery and poor in public transport outside the city, so a car will let you live out your classic road-trip fantasies. There’s a free-for-guests carpark within the reserve boundaries, from which you’ll be shuttled along on the 25-minute drive to the main hotel. For your Tuscan itinerary: Florence and Pisa are both just over an hour’s drive away, Bologna is two hours away, and Rome is three hours away.
Descend rather than drive into the lodge in a chartered helicopter. You’ll need to liaise with the hotel beforehand and they can help to arrange.
Worth getting out of bed for
That tumbling irrepressible tide of greenery that seductively surges into view from your lodge window seems to say ‘come and play’. And, who could resist such an invitation? These thousand hectares of gently encouraged forest (encompassing cherry and maple, chestnut and hazel, oak, fir and pine), meadows, pastures, mountains and a glassine lake offer days, possibly weeks, of distraction. Start with a get-your-bearings jaunt on the e-bikes provided, or ask for a map of the many hiking and trekking routes for all energy levels to tramp along. Grab a pair of poles for a brisk Nordic walk, or use your homing skills to work your way back to the main farmhouse on an orienteering session (if in doubt, the scent of the restaurant’s steaming hot bowls of pasta will float you home). While out and about, you’ll soon cotton on to the fact that this isn’t human territory – the reserve is home to an ecosystem with multitudes, and it’s impressively biodiverse thanks to the efforts of the WWF and Oasi Dynamo Società Agricola. On a wildlife walk you may encounter herds of skittish red, fallow and roe deer; wild boar; stone martens; weasels; porcupines; foxes; and birds of prey such as the buzzard or golden eagle. And, if you’re very lucky, you’ll spy one of the wolf packs that have been reintroduced to the region. A photographer can accompany you to help you achieve photos that could grace the pages of the National Geographic. Natural highs come in the form of harness-assisted tree climbing, criss-crossing Tibetan bridges through the canopy, and ziplining over the lake, which itself offers hours of fun with paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking. Head north to climb Mount Abetone, from the top of which you can see a swathe of Tuscan coastline; and there are peaks to conquer onsite, and occasional yoga sessions at the summit. Horses from the hotel stables can be saddled up for canters across the meadows, and you can learn more about the hotel’s agricultural efforts (and get hands on with cheesemaking, feeding and more) with a visit to the farm. Or simply catch a film at the cinema.
Until wolves master the art of fine dining, the hotel restaurant has little competition in the area. But, you may well drive into Florence for a day trip, and it’s as culinarily gifted as you’d expect. There’s as many eligible eateries as there are Renaissance masterpieces, so you can’t go too wrong, but we like Cantina Barbigianni, a romantic spot set in a stone subterranean vault, where the menu has dishes native Florentines might be familiar with even if you aren’t – say, spaghetti with cheese, pepper, lime and bottarga; pumpkin flan with porcini and shrimp tails; or chicken stuffed with ricotta and chestnuts in a Madeira sauce. Beppa Fioraia is named for a notable Florentine flower seller, and keeps her legacy alive with tables set among its own private olive grove. It’s the ideal setting for fresh flavourful dishes such as citrusy salmon with a fennel and orange salad, tagliatelle with duck ragout, and octopus with stracciatella.
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 leave-no-carbon-footprint woodland lodge in the Dynamo Oasis Nature Reserve and unpacked their haunch of hand-reared pancetta and cantucci biscuits made with house-milled flour, a full account of their light-touch break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Oasyhotel in the Tuscan wilds…
When it comes to camping, all we do is pitch and moan, which is why Oasyhotel has us so excited. This farm and woodland lodge at the leafy heart of Tuscany’s Dynamo Oasis Nature Reserve offers all the fresh air, bonfire gatherings and Bear Grylls-y outdoorsiness of a night under canvas with the little-luxury-filled hideaways, champion cucina, and wine on tap that’s only fair on a Florentine getaway. So, with comfort assured, you can fully appreciate the breathtaking scope of biodiverse landscape here. It doesn’t just roll out to the horizon over pastures, meadows, peaks and valleys – quite the view to wake up to – it lives and breathes: reintroduced wolf packs add a chorus to the moon; deer, boar, porcupines, stone martens and more snuffle through the dense woods; and buzzards and eagles soar overhead, while woodpeckers tap into the cherry, maple, hazel and pine trees that grow within. If the staff didn’t make you feel so at home you might feel like you were intruding; but the hotel has struck a beautiful symbiosis between human visitors and furred and feathered residents. They’ve partnered with the WWF to help conserve the delicate ecosystems here, use traditional agricultural methods to stay sustainable (and make meals a very exciting prospect) and invite researchers to track animals and help with breeding programmes. And, alongside impressive educational programmes designed to raise the planet-savers of tomorrow, they run a free yearly camp for critically ill children. So you can enjoy natural immersions with all the best intentions, and without the ‘tent’.