Any stay at Palazzo Presta comes with a side of cachet: not only have you secured an alluring spot in the old town, but in Gallipoli, the walled centro storicois on an exclusive Puglian islet lapped by the aquamarine Ionian (well played so far). Zooming in on this stylish locale still further, your booking prowess is clear – Palazzo Presta has just 10 rooms, each dressed to seduce with destination-inspired interiors curating antique furniture, original features, sumptuous colour and decorative detail (way to go). Then there’s its rooftop bar and glossy-tiled restaurant, ensuring there’s plenty to fall for beyond the bedroom – not least its sea-lapped setting beside Purità beach (mic drop)…
Get this when you book through us:
Aperitivo (a glass of wine, beer or a cocktail each and nibbles) at the rooftop bar
11am; earliest check-in, 2pm. Both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from AU$164.11 (€108), 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.
Rates include buffet breakfast and a selection of hot dishes (eggs, pancakes, avocado on toast) cooked to order.
The hotel’s interior designer, Alessandro Cesario, is the original owner of (equally stylish) Smith favourite Aethos Milan. As well as an intimate den for drinks, the hotel’s bar tucked behind the bookshop doubles as a private cinema, but you’ll need to book. Given the surfeit of seafood restaurants here, you’ll find little culinary variety in Gallipoli if you don’t eat fish.
The hotel is open from 1 April until 31 December.
At the hotel
Rooftop bar, rooftop terrace, restaurant, library, private bar/meeting space. In rooms: free WiFi, smart TV, minibar, free bottled water, beach towels and custom-made bath products.
Our favourite rooms
No requests for individual rooms can be guaranteed but luckily all 10 rooms bewitch with original details, antique furniture and clever use of colour. Superior suites Souk and El Fenn and (junior suite) Nosy Be come with original brick ceilings; we love the rich, red interiors and Juliet balcony of (superior suite) Marrakech. Book a deluxe suite for private outdoor space: all three come with a private terrace.
No pool, but you’re just a minute’s walk from favoured old-town beach Spiaggia della Purità.
As varied and international as the rooms: either harem pants, Asian silks, kimono jackets and spice-bright hues or simple, neutral threads in linen or twill.
All room types at Palazzo Presta are called suites – so if you’re after a multi-room stay, opt for a superior. Sadly this 17th-century stay is not wheelchair-accessible.
Tables at Lazzero & Caterina are in a series of adjoining rooms, some nearer the hotel lobby, some by the bar, so you’ll want to mix it up. On the stylish tiled terrace at Laurus, top table is dictated by your choice of sun or shade.
Flowing white linen and big shades for the terrazza; classic black or a timeless dress for Lazzero & Caterina. Mr Smiths should aim to up their shorts-and-T-shirt game with either longs or a smarter shirt (or both).
Lazzero & Caterina is a moodily lit restaurant and bar at street level that opens for dinner – lined in petrel blue ceramic tiles, softened with upholstered benches, wicker chairs and potted palms. The cuisine here is Italian and mostly meat free (you’ll need to love seafood) with inventive plates such as seared scallops in violet dashi broth, ricotta-stuffed squid and black fettuccine with sea urchins. It’s also where breakfast is served each morning: a buffet of continental choices – pastries, yogurt, fruit and granola – plus avocado on toast, pancakes or eggs cooked to order. At Terrazza Laurus on the roof, a menu of tapas and tartare is intended to accompany its cocktail list and features innovative plates including monkfish polpette, popcorn tempura prawns and salmon and guacamole tacos.
On the first floor an alfresco terrace is tiled in ivory, dotted with pot plants, Seventies-style rattan chairs and tables: Terrazza Laurus is foremost about cocktails – signature blends laced with innovative ingredients such as bergamot, rooibos tea, lavender, pecan bourbon or sour cherry liqueur. Puglian wines, franciacorta and champagne are yours to order by the bottle. At cool-tiled sanctuary Lazzero & Caterina, a small bar with a handful of high stools sits at the heart of the restaurant and caters to the aperitivo crowd with wine, cocktails (such as dirty margaritas and martinis) and bottled beer. For a private drink or special occasion, you can reserve exclusive use of the secret bar behind the library.
Breakfast is served 8am–10.30am and dinner, 7pm–11pm.
Available for breakfast, 8am–10.30am and for dinner and drinks, 7pm–11pm.
Palazzo Presta is in the old town of Gallipoli, on the west coast of Puglia, Italy’s southern heel.
Salento (an hour’s drive from the hotel) and Bari (two hours and 10 minutes away by road) are the nearest airports. The hotel can arrange private transfers (price on request).
Gallipoli has a train station with rail connections via Lecce. From the station, it’s only a kilometre and a half to the hotel – private transfers can be arranged from €15 each way.
Leave your wheels at the port car park 250 metres from Palazzo Presta and book a golf buggy (through the hotel) to collect you from there.
Located in a car-restricted area in Gallipoli’s old town, the hotel requests that you get in touch regarding transport ahead of arrival.
Worth getting out of bed for
Puglia has much to offer – be it coastline or countryside: in west-coast Gallipoli, you’re on the Ionian side, with beaches such as Baia Verde, a sweeping bay which runs south of the town as far as Torre del Pizzo, Lido Conchiglie and Rivabella, plus (nearest the hotel) Spiaggia della Purità. Away from the sea, this is a land of olive groves and vineyards: the negromaro grape is native here and typically used in Salento vintages including those produced in Alezio, a baroque town east of Gallipoli. The hotel can arrange bike tours to explore the area, as well as winery visits (including wine tastings and sampling local delicacies). For a better understanding of Salento’s culinary traditions, book a cookery lesson with Palazzo Presta’s chef. Gallipoli’s centro storico is home to a medieval castle, Sant’Agata cathedral and underground oil presses from Gallipoli’s days as a major producer of lamp oil – the museum at Frantoio Ipogeo di Palazzo Granafei can teach you more.
The conservatory veranda at fish restaurant Trattoria La Puritate is the place to enjoy stuffed mussels, tuna tartare, cuttlefish with garlic and tomatoes, mullet or scampi. Overlooking the sea, Il Bastione is a sky blue dining room of linened tables serving sumptuous seafood such as baked sea bream, fried swordfish and grilled Gallipoli prawns. A seafront terrace makes La Vinaigrette hard to resist: everything from carpaccio to pasta to elegant secondi showcases fresh, locally caught seafood, including lobster and octopus.
A trio of gourmet sandwich shops has landed in Gallipoli courtesy of Scafùd, where you can wash down your panino, bruschetta or salad with a glass of local wine or craft beer – its nearest outpost from the hotel is on Via de Pace Antonio.
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 17th century townhouse in Gallipoli and unpacked their olive oil and orecchiette, a full account of their coastal break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Palazzo Presta in Puglia…
On an islet in the Ionian stands Gallipoli’s walled old town – home to a 16th century bridge, mediaeval castle and ornate cathedral. Wander among its sea-seasoned alleys, however, and you’ll soon unearth one of its more overlooked gems: Palazzo Presta was the private residence of an 18th century doctor of medicine, Presta. The eponymous doctor’s side hustle in agronomy brought him fame as a pioneer in the world of pressing olive oil (to fuel lamps rather than dress the plates you’ll find today at the hotel’s seafood restaurant). Along with its shiny new trattoria, today Presta’s townhouse has been transformed into a world tour of interiors, each room paying homage to a different destination, from teal-hued Nosy Be’s Madagascan mores to the Imperial red walls and lacquered furniture of Chinese-themed Kuan Kung. Original features such as vaulted brick ceilings and antique Salento floor tiles conserve the hotel’s past; innovations such as the rooftop bar – a plant-dotted tiled terrace that’s ideal for aperitivi – elevate its contemporary appeal. Borrow a page-turner from the library ‘bookshop’ and reserve its adjoining secret bar for cocktails in an exclusive setting. And when you can tear yourself away from the pale sand beaches of the Salento coast, the hotel can arrange cookery classes, Alezio wine tours and carefree bike rides through the Puglian countryside.