Lecce, Italy

Palazzo Luce

Price per night from$1,168.75

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR1,090.91), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.


Hotel as art form


Down by the duomo

Carefully curated contemporary artworks and site-specific installations by the likes of Joseph Kosuth, Marina Abramović and Thomas Ruff are just part of the picture here at Palazzo Luce, named for the pure Puglian luce (light) that floods in through the first floor’s three-metre-high windows. There’s a walled garden and roof terrace, too, with views of other local masterpieces, among them the ancient Roman amphitheatre and several mediaeval religious buildings hewn from the characteristic pietra leccese limestone. Give your peepers a break from this visual feast with a gentle workout in the Pilates room, some downtime in one of the libraries or a siesta in your suite, all of which are – we have to confess – pretty eye-catching, too.

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

An aperitivo with a drink each (alcoholic or soft) and a selection of local snacks (charcuterie, cheese, breads)


Photos Palazzo Luce facilities

Need to know


Seven individually designed suites, each containing unique artworks.


11am. Check-in is at 3pm. Both are flexible where availability permits, with fees applied to late check-out. Guests arriving early or leaving late can otherwise store luggage and enjoy the palazzo’s many communal spaces.


Double rooms from £1032.55 (€1,200), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €2.50 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates include a breakfast of fresh local breads and pastries, plus fruits, yoghurts, cereals, eggs and more. It’s served in the stunning breakfast room, or down below in the walled garden.


Curated by owner Anna Maria Enselmi and legendary Italian dealer Lia Rumma, the eye-popping collection within the hallowed walls of this restored 18th-century palazzo reads like a veritable who’s who of Italian and international art and design. Installations, sculptures, frescoes and one-off furniture pieces from the likes of Martino Gamper, William Kentridge, Gio Ponti and David Tremlett steal the show.

Hotel closed

The hotel is open from the beginning of April through the end of October, and closed for winter.

At the hotel

Free WiFi. In rooms: satellite TV, free bottled water, Dyson hair dryer, bathrobes and Biologique Recherche toiletries.

Our favourite rooms

Suites are spacious, with most clocking in at over 40 square metres, and all contain curated art pieces, Gio Ponti furnishings, smart sitting areas and tadelakt- or marble-clad bathrooms large enough to get lost in. But it’s the top floor Ponti suites, with their bespoke yellow-and-white majolica-tiled floors, city skyline views and direct access to the roof terrace that have set our hearts aflutter. Toss a coin, or opt for the Blue Ponti if you fancy cosying up to the unique mid-century Gio Ponti design classic within.


There’s a treatment room in the Pilates Suite, with massages available on request.

Packing tips

A good guidebook with stacks of detail on the city’s distinctive Barocco Leccese architecture is essential, as is a wide-brimmed hat for exploring it all in the searing midday sun. Despite a surge in tourism in recent years, Puglia remains heroically resistant to the English language, so take a phrasebook for conjuring up an ice-cold local Terrona birra or Salento chardonnay when the hat just isn’t hitting the spot anymore.


There’s a gym and Pilates Suite out in the garden, set inside a beautiful old building with high arched ceilings. Expect further fine contemporary artworks and mid-century Osvald Borsani day-beds juxtaposed with state-of-the-art fitness equipment.


Palazzo Luce is for over-18s only – think of the art, darling.

Food and Drink

Photos Palazzo Luce food and drink

Top Table

Sure, the walled garden is nice, but if duomo views, a solarium and an unexpected neon-lit sign by artist Joseph Kosuth sound like your kind of thing, it’s the roof terrace you want.

Dress Code

Don’t let the striking art and mid-century Gio Ponti furnishings upstage you: turn yourself into a walking, talking masterpiece with bold block colours and exclusive designer prints, but stick to light cottons and linens in the summer heat.

Hotel restaurant

There’s no restaurant but the breakfast room is a feast for the eyes, with terracotta-tiled floors, lush foliage, large majolica-tiled fireplace and striking blue tables designed by Martino Gamper. But if you have an appetite that can only be satisfied by freshly baked Leccese pastries, local breads and seasonal fruits, fear not, there’s plenty of that, too. Eat inside or out in the walled garden, in the shade of lemon trees and banana palms.

Hotel bar

Open 6pm to midnight, the Gamper Bar is no shrinking violet. The bar – all colourful Ponti-inspired design by Martino Gamper, with polished brass fittings, burnished mirrors and a huge flamboyant chandelier – runs the entire length of the room. Awestruck guests take up their positions on fluffy stools straight from the set of Austin Powers or, quite possibly, Where The Wild Things Are, and socialise over finger food and signature cocktails until late.

Last orders

The Gamper Bar stays open until midnight, and sometimes even later on balmy summer evenings.

Room service

You can order bar snacks and drinks to your room from 11am to midnight.


Photos Palazzo Luce location
Palazzo Luce
Via Del Palazzo dei Conti di Lecce 4

It doesn’t get much more centrale than Palazzo Luce, a historic art-filled Lecce jewel set in the heart of Puglia’s Baroque capital, right behind the duomo.


Brindisi Airport is 50 kilometres from the hotel, around a 45-minute drive. Transfers can be arranged and cost from €100 to €200.


Lecce station is a 10-minute stroll from Palazzo Luce, and is served by major hubs including Milan, Venice, Rome and Bari. A taxi transfer from the station costs around €20.


Lecce is a compact, walkable sort of place, but you’ll need your own wheels if you want to explore the wild coastal bluffs and sleepy Baroque villages that lie beyond the city walls. Cars can be rented at the airport, but note that Palazzo Luce is located in Lecce’s Limited Traffic Zone, which means restricted access to vehicles and no parking. You can park outside the old town, but rates are steep at around €20 a day.

Worth getting out of bed for

There’s enough eye candy inside Palazzo Luce to keep you entertained for hours, if not days. Saunter across Joseph Kosuth’s specially commissioned wall-to-wall carpet in the main salon, to where William Kentridge’s enormous laser-cut heads juxtapose with the more natural tones of a piece from photographer Thomas Ruff’s jpeg series. And check out the shrine to 20th-century fashion in De Secly’s Library, where a collection of limited edition Vogue magazine covers provides one eye-catching focal point, and a monumental majolica-tiled circular table topped with Audrey Large’s extraordinary sculptures, another.

Step outside this fairy-tale palazzo onto the equally dreamlike streets of old Lecce where, just round the corner, the Piazza del Duomo puts you in pole sightseeing position. The cathedral here is as fine an example of the Barocco Leccese architecture as you’re likely to find, with its wedding-cake façade – all floral garlands, wingèd cherubs and sainted statues – providing a relatively sober foil to the outrageously opulent interior, where huge columns, flamboyant red-and-gold ceilings and an art-festooned altar are the order of the day. Want more? The Basilica di Santa Croce takes Lecce’s ‘Florence of the South’ nickname and runs with it, adopting its more famous northern neighbour’s name but going for even higher stakes in its façade’s eye-popping design. You have to wonder what was in the morning espresso the day the 17th-century sculptors chipped some of these pagan monsters, gurning gargoyles and, um, vegetables into being. 

Lighten the mood with a cookery class, where you’ll visit the morning markets to source fresh local ingredients then rustle up Puglian favourites like eggplant parmigiana and the region’s beloved orecchiette pasta, named on account of its cute little ear-like shape. You’ll get the chance to devour the lot with gusto once class is over; just try not to nibble your neighbour’s ear. Life’s a beach over in San Cataldo, a 20-minute drive (or slightly longer bus ride) out of town to the rugged Adriatic Coast. Or head further south to Otranto, a pretty port town around 40 minutes away with stacks of fine fish restaurants, a sandy beach and, yes, another cathedral. The long powdery beaches of Gallipoli over on the Ionian Coast are also a 40-minute drive.

Local restaurants

A tale of two restaurants here from the sublime to… well, we’ll let you make up your own minds. First up is Tabisca, specialists in straightforward Salento and Puglian cuisine served in an unassuming location down a rustic alley just off Piazza Santa Chiara. Sit at simple wooden tables beneath vaulted ceilings inside, or take up position on the terrace where you can watch the world go by and whet your appetite nibbling crostini with white-truffle butter or spicy ricotta with Amalfi Coast anchovies, ahead of the speciality main: a whopping great pork shank cooked in beer and served with wild mushrooms.

Just around the corner on the square proper awaits the somewhat more theatrical experience that is Bros, Lecce’s premier (and currently only) Michelin-starred restaurant. Not for the faint of heart, its tasting-only menus have been known to run to as many as 25 courses. Expect the unexpected but know that your dishes – purported to feature the likes of kiwi injected with mint, olive ice cream and, um, citrus foam served in a cast of the chef’s mouth – will never be served with anything less than the high drama and mystique for which this outlandish concept restaurant has become renowned.

Local cafés

When in Lecce, we’d consider it essential to seek out the life-altering local specialities that are the pasticciotto and caffè leccese. Let’s begin with the pasticciotto because… well, why wouldn’t you? This crumbly, bun-shaped pastry oozes sweet, creamy lemon custard when bitten into or, if you’re not too much of a traditionalist, you can also find it in pistachio and even Nutella flavours. It’s best paired with the short sharp shock of a morning espresso.

In the afternoon, cool off with a caffè leccese, aka the rather more unwieldy sounding caffè in ghiaccio con latte di mandorla. Whatever you want to call it, this sweet, sweet drink contains espresso poured over sugar and ice then topped with frothing almond cream. You can hunt down both of these delicacies at nearby Caffè Alvino, which overlooks the same Roman amphitheatre that’s visible from the garden of Palazzo Luce.

Local bars

The clue’s in the name at Prohibition, a speakeasy-style cocktail bar that’s a reassuringly short enough stumble from Palazzo Luce to justify just one more cocktail at the end of the evening. And there’s quite a list to work through, too, with a focus on well-crafted classics like martinis, margaritas and old-fashioneds.

Lecce is a city that just begs you to seek out its best rooftop views, and the terrace on top of the historic Palazzo BN is no slouch. Far from it, in fact: this unique roof garden, complete with trees, shrubs and patio seating, gives the impression of being in an urban park, and one that just happens to have some of the best skyline views in town. Take it all in over a spiced vodka cocktail laced with lemon and – we kid you not – gorgonzola cheese, or kick back with a refreshing mango cooler.


Photos Palazzo Luce reviews
Rosa Rankin-Gee

Anonymous review

By Rosa Rankin-Gee, Parisian script tease

I realise, standing under a sky-high shower looking through a polished brass door back into our bedroom, what it is to stay at Palazzo Luce. It is perhaps the closest thing you can get to stepping through the frame of a painting and into the image itself. And it’s not just one image: each time I move my head, or take a step, the frame renews, and yet another masterpiece emerges. 

In our suite, a celestial six metres above us, the artist David Tremlitt has painted a site-specific fresco: a patchwork curlicue that spins future and past. A fresco in a bedroom is one of the most enjoyable ways to view a piece, since – I am lazy – you get to take it in from the comfort of kingsize bed. 

But also because it is a privilege to stay so close to a piece of such significance, and see it shift through the day, turning greyscale at night, its blues, creams and single core of red waking with daylight. The room comes to life around it – a trompe l’œil layering of painted panels, and delicately trippy hand-drawn stripes that sweep from the wall to the floor.

Everywhere you look is something extraordinary, and everything is a true original, since reproduction is decidedly not a word in the Palazzo Luce vocabulary. The wardrobe, the headboard, the 1950’s spearmint bathroom suite? Gio Ponti. The cyanotype vases which wrap the walls? Ettore Spalletti. The epic, amber-toned light-fixture? Hans-Agne Jakobsson. 

It’s enough to make you want an audio guide. And capping off the masterpiece of course, Mrs Smith comes into view, Venus-like, telling me she’s fallen in love with a cloud-soft turquoise Society Limonta alpaca blanket… 

This has truly been a rags-to-riches tale. We left England’s March cruelty to escape to Puglia, and ever since touching down in Brindisi, it’s felt like a renaissance of sorts. Our skin saying hi to sun again, a blueness of sky that makes you want to walk with your neck tipped back, freckles finding their way back to the surface. 

For those wondering what Puglia is like at this time of year, it’s been one of the only Italian phrases I know: molto bene. The wind can be whippy, but Italians will know how to read it, so you can head to the right side of coastline. And you’ll have it all to yourself: the see-through waves, the silver-leafed olive trees, the carpets of wildflowers that look like they’re lit from within. And enough tagliolini ai frutti di mare, of course, that you start to feel embarrassed ordering it. 

And now we’re in a palace. Sure, the word palazzo can be thrown around loosely, but this one has earned both stripes and stars: a former home of Maria D'Enghien (the future Queen of Naples), it was built in the 14th century, and then totally reimagined and reborn by a Milanese art collector, who fell in love with the property at first sight, and saw in its singularity the perfect space to house her favourite works. 

Wander through Luce, and you’ll brush shoulders with a candle-holding Marina Abramovi?, walk over Joseph Kosuth carpets, and be bathed in the blue neon light of an Alfredo Jaar. Unlike other so-called art hotels, this is a far cry from a one-off piece in reception, this a truly world-class collection. And it’s no holds barred. This gives staying at Luce something of a Night at the Museum feel: there’s a touch of pure fantasy about it as the red ropes and glass cages all disappear and you’re left alone with Marina. 

Continuing the Dröste effect of art within art and beauty within beauty, then you get to wander outside. Lecce, the capital of Salento, balanced at the centre of Italy’s heel but with the sea in touching distance on either side, is crafted from a stone which looks soft enough to spread. Its baroque buildings teeter the colour of clouds in a good sunset: cream in daylight, before starting to blush. And it’s the perfect size to weave and wander through.  

We find a middle ground between church visits (Mrs Smith’s request), and napping on sun-toasted tiles on Palazzo Luce’s sprawling rooftop (mine. The ideal place to soak in wisteria-framed views of the Duomo and the Roman amphitheatre). We drink Primitivo Reserva that punches in, Amarone-like, at close to 16% ABV, and our conversation finally gets down to the real stuff: like, if we had to, which type of pasta would we name our children? (Son: Orzo; daughter: Maritata). (Please don’t call the police).

Our Puglia road trip has driven us from the tail end of March into the opening notes of April. The season is beginning – every town we go to, shopkeepers are repainting their signs – and it also means we just so happened to arrive at Palazzo Luce on opening night. 

This is what happens when you step into a painting: you step into a touch of the make-believe. It just so happens that the owner Anna Maria is in town, and it just so happens, a shining light of warmth and welcome, she invites us for dinner at the palazzo. (For the sake of editorial impartiality, I would like to confirm that never once was our anonymity blown.)

It unfolds dream-like: we perch on fluffy Martino Gamper bar stools while a waistcoated barman whips us up negronis (sbagliato of course … with prosecco in it), and small artful mouthfuls arrive on silver platters – seafood salad, bacalao and choux buns filled with ricotta. 

We sit around an Arthurian table topped with antique maiolica tile, and eat lobster orecchiette followed by kingfish. The group is small and warm, and we like them all so much that we not only swap numbers afterwards, but also take their advice on the speed and order with which to have Orzo and Maritata entirely to heart. And dinner, however magnificent, is just an overture. 

Next, we’re led through to a specially-commissioned one-off performance piece. A candlelit reading of the quotes disguised in the mirrored panels of the library (a piece of work entitled Optometric Test by Marzia Migliora), accompanied by an extraordinary five-stringed violin. 

By now Mrs Smith and I have perfected the try-not-to-smile-as-much-as-you-want-to-so-you-look-vaguely-normal look, but I can see on her face that she is thinking: how is this happening? 

After the show, a sampling suite of amari arrives before we’re invited for an evening stroll to a nearby cafe for a midnight, oven-hot pasticciotto (think pastel de nata but encased all the way round with a butterier pastry) as the streets of Lecce come to life long into the night with young, still-sunglassed Italians. 

Back in bed, and then at breakfast, and up on the roof, and down in the far-too-stylish-to-touch exercise room (that’s my excuse anyway), artful touches are everywhere: in the full-range Aesop and Recherche Biologique products, the home-made apple pie flecked with citrus at breakfast, the cream linen suits of the staff, the sputnik-ish perfection of the Modino fixtures, the string of things that’s almost too long to list. 

What I said about stepping into the painting – it’s not a single step. When you stay at Luce, you live in it. It’s a luminous achievement. 

There’s something about the scale of the experience that inspires a feeling of reverence: the hushed tones that can come upon you when you enter a cathedral. At first, you might feel a temptation to tiptoe, but don’t – as Anna Maria tells us as she hugs us goodbye, the whole point is you’re home.

Price per night from $1,168.75

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