Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco’s personal ad is enticing: 800-year old Tuscan estate with 4,000-plus acres, a Brunello di Montalcino winery, two restaurants, a spa and a pool seeks discerning guests for sun and friendship… Please note, the hotel's suites, restaurants, bar and spa are currently closed until further notice.
Noon, but flexible, subject to availability and a half-day charge up to 4pm and a full-day charge from 6pm. Earliest check-in, 3pm.
Double rooms from £609.72 (€695), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.
Rates generally exclude breakfast (an American or Tuscan spread for €15).
Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is the fifth largest producer of Brunello di Montalcino (a lush red), so have a guided tour of the winery. A tasting session is obligatory. The kitchen gardens are in good hands – they’re tended to by the Vatican’s man.
At the hotel
Cookery school, spa, gym, tennis courts, football and bowls pitches, winery with an enoteca (tasting room), a little church, extensive grounds, an organic orto (Italian kitchen garden), book and DVD library, free WiFi throughout and a boutique selling clothes, shoes and local delicacies. Guests can also access the private golf course up to four times a year each. In rooms: flatscreen TV, CD/DVD player, iPod dock, Nespresso machine, and free minibar and bottled water.
Our favourite rooms
The San Michele Suite has an elegant sitting room with a library and garret, and a bathroom with a generous tub. Ask for a front-facing room – they come with little wooden shutters that open out onto the village and the piazzetta (diminutive square). Special Rooms, Junior and Borgo Suites, all in the main house, are decorated in traditional Tuscan shades such as ochre, burgundy and cypress green; furniture is traditional, sturdy and glossy, and beds are often four-poster. Super-chic and dotted around the Borgo are the CdB Suites – one has its own kitchenette, a private garden and wood-burning oven; best of the lot is the glamorous Suite del Vescovo, housed in the Borgo's former ballroom, with period details including a vast fireplace and hand-painted vaulted ceiling. With ground-floor access and pergola-shaded terraces, Terrace Suites in the former Winery and Stables buildings are nice for young families.
The heated infinity pool is set on the crest of a lavender- and bluebell-graced hill, with breathtaking views of the rolling fields and the village of Montalcino in the distance.
The spa is an earthy-hued escape in the estate's former wine cellars. There's a sauna and steam bath, and a lavender-scented garden where you can sip herbal teas and smoothies made from garden-plucked ingredients. The menu of holistic La Prairie treatments is delightfully indulgent, and there's a small gym where yoga and pilates classes are held.
A sketchpad and watercolours to capture the scenery (or, failing that, a camera); a notebook for scribbling down recipes; sportswear for the sleek, glass-walled gym, which surveys the Tuscan countryside.
Pint-sized dogs can come too, at no extra cost; a bed, bowl, grooming products, and a little leaving present are provided. Just let the hotel know when booking. See more pet-friendly hotels in Tuscany.
The Rose Buds kids club will keep little Smiths in raptures. A free cot or extra bed can be added to larger rooms for under-13s (€200 a night for older children; in villas only the first two are free for under-13s). Babysitting is available on request.
Cots and extra beds for under-18s can be added free to parents’ rooms in most cases. Children are welcomed with a small toy (for under-12s) or cookies on arrival. Babysitting costs €30/hour, and there's a kids' club for 3–12-year-olds.
Kids of all ages, although the landscape and cuisine might be wasted on fussy toddlers or easily bored teens.
Special Rooms will take a baby cot but an extra bed is a squeeze. All suites are one-bedroomed, with a separate living room. CdB Suites are super-chic, but with ground-floor access and pergola-shaded terraces, Terrace Suites are best for toddlers.
There's no crèche, but you can book a babysitter to look after your teeniest Smiths anywhere on site from €25 an hour (book ahead). The CdB Kids Club provides childcare for kids aged 3–12 daily from 3pm–9pm (there is a supplement if you'd like them to have dinner there) – you’ll need to book places when you reserve your room. Most of the weekly-changing kids club activities (daily from 3pm–6pm) are free, including treasure hunts, crafting or cookery fun such as painting classes or biscuit baking, but some are charged.
With more than 4,000 acres, the estate is one huge outdoor playground, criss-crossed with hiking and biking trails that wend through olive groves, orchards and forests, and lead you past streams, waterfalls and hidden ruins. Enjoy a game of table tennis or entertain little ones at the playground, which features a swing, slide, climbing frame and sand pit. For older children, there's an extensive choice of extra activities, with private classes offered alongside pony rides and tours of the farm. Over-6s can have tennis or archery tuition; there are oil-painting courses for art-mad over-10s and astronomy sessions for over-12s; and the cookery school has classes that older children can join with parental supervision. The hotel’s playroom is a weatherproof treasure, stocked with toys, board games, DVDs and computer games.
The heated infinity pool is family-friendly and has breathtaking views. Entrance to the pool is gated, there is a shallow end and a lifeguard in attendance. Your kids can borrow inflatables and floats, plus you can book private in-villa swimming lessons.
Highchairs and booster seats are available at all-day eatery Osteria La Canonica, where the menu of light Italian stapes, salads, pasta and pizza lends itself to easygoing family meals, and items can be adapted to suit their tastes on request (staff will also happily heat up milk or baby food). Toddler-friendly snacks and baby purées are available to buy. Children are also welcome at all three bars, but best catered for at the pool bar, where there's also a simple menu of bar snacks and pizzas.
The hotel can organise a babysitter or nanny from €30 an hour (minimum three hours; maximum three children per sitter): allow at least 24 hours' notice.
No need to pack
You can buy nappies and baby wipes at the hotel, and they have plenty of basic kids' kit to borrow, including changing mats, baby monitors, stair gates, simple toys and books.
The hotel’s playroom is a weatherproof treasure, stocked with toys, board games, DVDs and computer games.
Soak up the sunshine alfresco over glasses of Brunello, or stargaze by night, from one of the restaurant terraces.
Rural chic: cashmere and corduroy, in olive, corn-gold and russet hues.
There are two restaurants at Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco: Osteria La Canonica, set in the old priest’s house, is the relaxed option, serving light Italian staples all day from noon – pasta, pizza, salads, cheese, cured meats and the like. The more formal Ristorante Campo del Drago excels at Italian fine dining, serving rich Tuscan classics such as Chianina steak in Brunello sauce; this is also where breakfast is served. Both have terraces with gorgeous views.
The snug CdB bar has a wonderful terrace overlooking the woods, lakes and Montalcino. Snack on little stuzzichini (appetisers) and sample the award-winning Brunello di Montalcino wine.
Breakfast is 7.30am–11am; lunch is from noon until 3pm (a light lunch is served 3pm–6pm); dinner is a relaxed affair, served between 7.30pm and 9.45pm.
Order items from the restaurant menus between 7.30am and 10pm. Items from the hotel bar can be ordered between 4.30pm and 1am. There's also a Night Menu with cold snacks, available 10pm–7.30am.
South of Siena, Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco lies surrounded by fields and forest at the heart of a 4,000-acre estate in the Val d’Orcia, near the town of Montalcino.
Florence is the nearest international airport, 120km or an hour and 40 minutes' drive away (www.aeroporto.firenze.it/en/). It's well-served from the UK and other European cities by airlines including British Airways (www.britishairways.com/en-gb/offers/mr-and-mrs-smith-hotels).
Buonconvento is 10km from the hotel, and has services connecting to Siena, Grosseto and Florence (www.trenitalia.com). Alternatively arrive at Siena (www.comune.siena.it), via international connections to Florence; Siena station is a 45-minute drive from the hotel. Direct sleeper services run to Florence from Paris (www.thello.com).
Bringing or hiring a car will maximise your freedom to explore this wonderful, rural region and the roads, although minor, are fairly straightforward. From the north, take the SS2 from Siena to Buonconvento, then the SP34 and SP103 (which is also the road you’d need if approaching from Montalcino). Car hire such as Avis is available at Florence airport, but not Siena train station. Siena is about a half-hour drive away, and the hotel has plenty of free parking.
Fancy making an entrance? Helicopter transfers can be arranged.
Worth getting out of bed for
Learn the arts of the Tuscan cucina with a class at the cookery school, set in La Canonica. You’ll start by picking ingredients with the chefs in the kitchen garden, and finish off with a boozy lunch. Visit the estate’s charming church, San Michele Arcangelo, and rub shoulders with the area’s wealthy families, who still worship there. (Look out for the glorious 14th-century fresco by Pietro Lorenzetti, uncovered during the estate’s renovation.) There’s an Etruscan fort and a ruined Gothic chapel on the grounds – seek them out. The Spa offers therapies and products based on organic ingredients grown in the orto. Ingredients are seasonal; past elixirs have featured Brunello grape must and Bacchus nectar. Ask the concierge about hiring bikes or hiking in the grounds. Equine enthusiasts have the chance to ride a Maremma horse, steed of choice for Tuscan herdsman. Jeep your way through the Tuscan hills with a guide. You’ll explore the flora and fauna of the ‘Crete Senesi’ and finish off with lunch at the restaurant. (Staff will arrange.) Go truffle hunting, if the season permits.
Try the delicious handmade pasta at Osteria La Via di Mezzo (+39 05 7780 6320), at 53 Via Soccini, in the charming little town of Buonconvento. Dishes are authentic, flavoursome, and fairly priced. Osteria Porta al Cassero (+39 05 7784 7196) at 32 Via Ricasoli in Montalcino has a meaty menu (try the stewed boar or spiced, breaded chicken) and a relaxed feel. The dining room’s stone walls are peppered with black-and-white photographs, and there’s a father-daughter team in charge. For fine dining, head to the Michelin-starred Arnolfo Ristorante (+39 05 7792 0549) at 20 Via Settembre. Expect the tiny portions and big flavours so fashionable with high-end eateries.
As an Italian man living in London, Italy is never far from my thoughts. So strong are the memories in my head of summer holidays spent on the Ligurian coast that, when I land, I can tell I’m in Italy even with my eyes closed – maybe because of the background noise, our disorganised way of joining queues, or the yelled invitations from the illegal taxi drivers as soon as you step out of Arrivals.
Surrounded by green in all its colour-chart graduations, our two-hour drive from Florence airport takes us to the emerald lawns of Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco through a slideshow of what Italy is today: rural farmhouses, vineyards, warehouses at the side of the motorway, railway crossings – and the magnificent and eternal hills of Tuscany. Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco appears at the end of a dirt track; not just a hotel, but an ancient village. An entire borgo has been transformed into a luxury resort and golf course.
‘So, who’s the owner?’ I ask. I’m answered in a hushed voice, their way of respecting someone who doesn’t want to show off: ‘Il Signor Ferragamo.’ They’re referring to Massimo – the son of Salvatore Ferragamo. Soon I see how obvious this is, from the injection of luxurious leather throughout: on the furniture, finely moulded onto edges of plasma screens, on the phone in reception, inserted into the wardrobe’s panels – precise, sophisticated, tailor-made by the same hands that had created bespoke shoes for stars from all over the world. Every detail, such as the impossibly soft bedlinen, or
the beautiful stone in the bathrooms, is an expression of respect of traditional crafts and lifestyles, but also a refinement of modern luxury – as the Italians do best. I can’t help but be patriotic sometimes.
We start our tour of the estate, and as they speak to me in their central-Italian accent, it’s as though I have Roberto Benigni at my side; every ‘k’ endearingly becomes an ‘h’, and kindness is never a formality. There are nearly 4,500 verdant acres to explore; we tackle just one tiny corner, passing by a small 12th-century church with spectacular Lorenzetti frescoes reminiscent of the works of Giotto. As for the infinity pool, it has a view of the Tuscan hills overlooking Montalcino that’s worthy of a masterpiece. I cannot resist taking a picture. The lifeguard coaxes me to dive right in: ‘You must try it! It’s heated at 28 degrees.’ We add swimming and horse-riding in these hills to a fast-lengthening to-do list with ‘spa time’ right at the top.
The spa is located in a dedicated building and after a short walk from our room, we are left in the hands of its superb and professional staff. A magically peaceful place, the spa offers unique therapies based on organic and exotic ingredients. We start with a steam sauna before treating ourselves to a ‘luxury couples massage’, during which a melted mixture of natural oils is drizzled on the skin and combined with a relaxing and unwinding full body rub. I don’t think there is anyone in the world who wouldn’t love this spa.
And now to our suite, which is in a centuries-old building, formerly the stables. It is furnished and decorated in perfect harmony with the style of the rest of the property: ochre-yellow walls blend perfectly with pale, rich fabrics, and the vermilion-red leather mirrors the majolica tiles in the bathroom. The interiors throughout are shot with mouthwatering seasonal hues: cream, khaki, apricot, tomato and grass green. Though this hotel is beautiful enough to justify doing absolutely niente during a stay here, there are plenty of lures to get even the laziest sybarites out of bed and espresso- or Brunello-sipping. Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is also a members’ club; to keep its VIPs happy, the estate comes with a cookery school, spa, golf course and dedicated concierge service, which can arrange activities from Jeep jaunts to bike rides.
This hotel is not just a feast for the eyes, though, and our minds soon drift to dinnertime… for this, there are two restaurants awaiting. For high gastronomy, there’s Ristorante del Drago, but we’re in a more relaxed mood. Ambling through the butter-toned buildings into a tiny piazza we seek out what was once a priest’s house and is now Osteria la Canonica. We start – of course – with a Brunello di Montalcino, produced by their own vineyard; the estate is one of the five biggest producers of this stand-out Italian red. Deliciously rounded by the barriques, our powerful tipple is the perfect match for simple but superb pici con ragù di manzo and vegetables plucked from the hotel’s own organic garden.
On our last afternoon we visit the mediaeval village of Montalcino, just 10km away. Here, I stare at the faces of the inhabitants, their Etruscan noses, the deep wrinkles etched in by cold winters and torrid summers. Another glass of Brunello warms our souls. A herd of fawns crosses our path. Are they real? Or is that Brunello playing a trick on me?
At the airport, awaiting our flight back, I turn to Mrs Smith and say. ‘Let’s buy it.’ She raises an eyebrow. ‘Let’s buy what?’ she asks. My answer: ‘A return ticket, so we can come back again. Soon.’ Rosewood Castiglion del Bosco is not only a hotel to recommend, it is a quantum leap, and an experience for all your senses...
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