Affordable Italian hotels
Italy is famous for its great pasta, wine and olives. Whether you fancy a weekend break or a winter escape, here are our our favourite bargain hotels, b&bs and foodie boltholes
Looking for affordable Italian hotels? We've found the best Italian hotels for foodies in Piedmont, Tuscany, Sicily, Puglia and everywhere in between. Check out our round-up of the best Italian hotels for those on a budget...
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Hotel Su Gologone, Sardinia
Doubles from £182, check availability at booking.com
Winding into the Barbagia mountains to the Hotel Su Gologone. Just a two-hour drive from the Costa Smeralda this is more bandit than paparazzi territory – probably one of the reasons Madonna hid out here, although she could have been swayed by the hotel’s gob-smacking beauty, hippy-chic vibe and gourmet credentials.
Food is at the heart of Su Gologone, which started life as a restaurant in the 1960s. Today, it might be a chic, art-themed hotel – a pretty huddle of whitewashed buildings laced with vivid purple bougainvillea and bedded into the mountainside – but it’s still famous for its food.
Giovanna’s vibrant artworks pepper the bedrooms’ walls while the corridors are hung with traditional embroidered skirts and shawls. Secret alcoves are dotted around the gardens, there’s an open-air cinema and pool, a small spa, rooftop lounging areas for stargazing and a fabulous bar– whitewashed, open-air, scattered with white cushions and teetering above the valley. Sip a frothy bellini here, as the sun sinks, soaking up the Ibiza vibe and jaw-dropping views.
Antica Fattoria La Parrina, Tuscany
Doubles from £71, check availability at booking.com
The Maremma is a corner of Tuscany where you can still find countryside roamed by traditional cowboys called “butteri” and Antica Fattoria La Parrina is the perfect stop for a window into rural life down on the Tuscan farm. As well as making well-regarded wines and grappa, the farm also produces cheese, honey, olive oil, fruit, vegetables, pasta, flour and meat – there’s an on-site shop that would put many a farmer’s market to shame.
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Overnight guests (it also doubles as an agriturismo) can also enjoy the farm’s bounty on the breakfast table, as well as at lunch and dinner; everything is made onsite. Guests can picnic in the grounds, enjoy wine tastings, join a Tuscan cookery lesson or even go boar hunting on the estate. The property’s 12 bedrooms, housed in the solid farmhouse at the centre of the estate, channel rustic charm rather than country chic and there’s a pool, gardens and the beach resorts of the Tyrrhenian Sea a short drive away.
La Favia, Milan
Doubles from £89, check availability at lafavia4rooms.com
The four-bedroom La Favia guesthouse, an urban hideaway tucked inside a refurbished 19th-century building, takes its inspiration from owners Fabio and Marco’s travels: no two rooms are the same. On sunny mornings, start the day with breakfast in the rooftop garden – eggs cooked to order, pastries, cakes, bread, homemade jams, fruit and juice squeezed from oranges grown in the owners’ own citrus grove.
Il Borgo del Balsamico, Emilia Romagna
Doubles from £102, check availability at booking.com
Modena is synonymous with one of Italy’s most celebrated ingredients: intensely flavoured balsamic vinegar made from fermented grape must. The area around the city of Reggio Emilia is a hub for the vinegar’s production, and also happens to be where you will find Il Borgo del Balsamico. At this historic guest house, in Botteghe Albinea, sisters Cristina and Silvia Crotti produce DOP and IGP vinegars. It’s a lovely setting – an 18th century villa and farmhouse surrounded by wisteria-draped gardens, abundant with damask roses and fruit trees.
You can visit the tasting rooms as a day tripper but we recommend booking to stay over in one of the property’s three, refined guestrooms (plus one apartment); think parquet floors, Venetian plasterwork and carefully chosen antiques. There’s a small pool in the gardens too.
Locanda al Colle, Tuscany
Doubles from £167, check availability at booking.com
Calling Locanda al Colle a bed and breakfast is a bit of an understatement. This 12-room guesthouse has many of the perks of a five-star hotel with its antiques and art, saltwater pool and immaculate gardens. Adding to the exclusive feel is its tranquil location, on a pine and olive tree-dotted hill outside Camaiore (also easily reached from seaside resorts like Viareggio, Forte dei Marmi and the pretty town of Pietrasanta).
The overall vibe is informal but impeccable, and the same could be said of the food, with everything freshly made each day, from the sourdough bread and granola at breakfast to the cakes for afternoon tea. Resident chef Gianluca also conducts cookery lessons in the kitchen and, twice a week (on Wednesdays and Saturdays) hosts sociable dinners serving homemade ravioli and more on the candlelit terrace (on Monday evenings simple suppers of Tuscan soup and bruschetta are also available).
Planeta Wine Estate, Sicily
Doubles from £190, check availability at booking.com
Unsurprisingly it’s all about wine at the Planeta Wine Estate, just outside Menfi in south-western Sicily. As one of Sicily’s most well established and highly regarded wine producers, Planeta has five different territories dotted around the island but Menfi is where it all began, back in the 16th century. At nearby La Forestiera (part of the estate) there are 14 guestrooms set amid regimented vines, plus a restaurant whose menu is informed by its surroundings - the herbs of the countryside and seafood from the nearby coast.
Sip a glass of Nero d’Avola on the pool terrace or visit one of Planeta’s wineries for an in-depth tasting. As well as the pool, in the warmer months guests have access to the Lido Fiori on the beach at Porto Palo di Menfi, 10 minutes’ drive away. Planeta also has vast olive groves at Capparriva producing DOP Val di Mazzara oils; guests can sign up for a tasting and learn about harvesting and pressing.
La Locanda Delle Donne Monache, Basilicata
Doubles from £98, check availability at booking.com
Slightly less well-trammelled by British visitors than other corners of the country, Basilicata is sandwiched between Campania (to the north) and Calabria (to the south). Its rumpled Tyrrhenian Sea coastline is short but sweet at just 30km long, with mountains rising abruptly from the sea. Maratea, its principal town, is a charming cluster of buildings dotted with twisting alleyways and over 40 churches. Also in town, La Locanda delle Donne Monache is a former 18th-century convent, now a smart hotel, with a pool and views over the countryside to the sea.
The hotel’s Il Sacella restaurant embraces the flavours of the province – chillies and pork are popular regional staples – and the menu features local sausages from Maratea, homemade pasta with mussels, shrimp and cuttlefish and baked sea bream washed down by Basilicata’s signature wine, the red Aglianco del Vulture.
Domu Antiga, Sardinia
Doubles from £97, check availability at booking.com
A 19th-century farmhouse in the rural heartland of Sardinia, Domu Antiga is in the village of Gergei, surrounded by empty plains and olive groves roamed by more sheep than people. The sensitively restored building is now home to four airy guestrooms whose owners are passionate about local traditions.
Guests can jump on a cute Piaggio Ape van and tour the Unesco World Heritage-listed archaeological site of Su Nuraxi at Barumini. Alternatively, join chef Maria Grazia’s bread and cheese-making classes or try your hand at making local pasta shapes, like the island’s unique malloreddus gnocchi. Maria also oversees the guesthouse’s lavish breakfasts, and cooks dinner on request (expect grilled vegetables, local ravioli and Sardinian cheeses). There’s also a pizzeria and a winery close by.
Fireflies and Figs, Abruzzo
Doubles from £130, check availability at canopyandstars.co.uk
Fern and Jono plot a celebration of Italian produce from dawn until dusk at Fireflies and Figs. Here, you can indulge in fresh and honest food with a hyper-local focus. Try handmade gnudi or sweet cherry ice cream laced with cherries plucked from the surrounding trees. Picturesque yurts overlook rolling fields and olive groves, and breakfast is served in colourful crockery with breathtaking views of the Abruzzi mountains. Be sure to spend your days exploring every direction. You’ll find bustling market stalls, quiet beaches and idyllic forests to photograph.
Hotel Emilia, Le Marche
Doubles from £49, check availability at booking.com
With rolling hills, ancient towns and beaches lapped by the limpid waters of the Adriatic, Le Marche’s under-the-radar charms are many. Hotel Emilia commands a haughty spot on the Cornero Riviera, a slice of dreamy coastline south of Ancona mostly given over to a national park. In addition to its 30 guests rooms, there’s a pool, an artsy vibe, a restaurant focusing on local dishes and fabulous sunsets.
While you’re there, take the serpentine road down to Portonovo, however. At night the loungers are tidied away and tables are set up on the beach. Seafood is the order of the day, namely the acclaimed wild mussels found in the bay, some of the sweetest you’ll ever taste and harvested in the traditional way. Served in a number of guises; sautéed with lemon, served with spaghetti or with "paccheri" and fennel as is the case at Da Giachetti (ristorantedagiachetti.it). Il Laghetto (illaghetto.com) and Da Emilia (daemilia) are two more to try.
Masseria Susafa, Sicily
Doubles from £150, check availability at booking.com
It’s a family affair at the Masseria Susafa, a sprawling estate that has been owned by members of the Saeli-Rizzuto family for five generations - brothers Manfredi and Tommaso are now at the helm. The fortified, 19th-century farmhouse at its heart sits at the foot the Madonie mountains, near Polizzi Generosa, and is the focal point for overnight guests. Around the farmhouse are 18 simple but chic guest rooms. Between terracotta floors and exposed beams are restful ricotta-coloured walls and the odd pop of olive green or tomato red from a headboard or throw.
A restaurant is housed in the old granary and flavours here take their inspiration from the traditional Sicilian table. Vegetables, herbs, fruit and organic olive oil all come straight from the farm and the menu is elegantly rustic (think tomato salads, caponata and creamy risottos). Join a cookery lesson if you can drag yourself away from the pool.
Masseria Montenapoleone, Puglia
Doubles from £107, check availability at booking.com
In time-honoured Pugliese farming tradition, breakfast is the most important meal of the day and, at Masseria Montenapoleone - a stylish farmhouse hotel - it is served in the atmospheric surroundings of the Old Stables. Freshly picked fruits from the farm, dried fig tarts straight from the oven, citrus carpaccio with cinnamon, local cheese and cured meats are just some of the treats on offer for the first meal of the day.
The warm sandstone farmhouse, which dates from the 1600s, has 16 guestrooms and is surrounded by a plane of silvery olive and almond trees. Just outside Fasano, on the Salento coast, it is very much a working farm, dedicated to organic produce. Guests are encouraged to pick their own fruit and vegetables and to go behind the scenes to learn more about Puglian cuisine.
Palazzo Seneca, Norcia
Doubles from £150, check availability at booking.com
The foodie town of Norcia is set in the densely tree-covered Sibillini Mountains in Umbria. Enter through one of seven gates in the town’s heart-shaped, ancient walls and you soon discover a network of paved streets rich with foodie delights – café and restaurant tables spilling onto pavements and traditional food shops, Norcinerias, packed with prosciutto, cheeses, spelt and truffles.
Relais & Chateaux's Palazzo Seneca is an elegantly restored sixteenth-century building hidden in one of Norcia’s narrow streets. Original stone flooring, open fires and squishy chairs await in the reception rooms, while delicate wrought iron frames, twisted wooden columns and wooden bedheads have been crafted so no two of the 24 rooms are the same. Pad down to the hotel's candlelit barrel-vaulted spa in the basement, complete with jacuzzi, sauna and Turkish bath.
For breakfast, a serve-yourself spread is laid out on enormous wooden surfaces, with an entire table dedicated to charcuterie and local cheese. The hotel’s Michelin-starred Vespia restaurant is where the modern and innovative approach really comes into play, with little stacks of 24hr-cooked suckling pig and crisp buttery potatoes with splashes of colourful root veg purée, Norcia sausage ravioli and Breton chicken two ways.
Tennuta Carretta, Piedmont
The regimented vines and gently undulating patchwork of one of Italy’s most prestigious wine regions, the Langhe-Roero Monferrato, is a worthy entry on the Unesco World Heritage list. Within it, Tenuta Caretta is a sprawling estate near Piobesi d’Alba that encompasses damask rose-pink buildings stretching to a winery, a 10-room inn and two restaurants (one of which is Michelin starred).
Book into the inn and you can choose between differently themed tastings of the estate’s different wines (including Barolo, Barbera d’Alba and Nebbiolo), as well as local cheeses and cured meats. Best of all, order one of its new picnics - created by head chef, Flavio Costa - and go vine trekking on a gentle 2.1km route through the surrounding vineyards, looking out for the perfect spot for lunch; a picnic blanket and corkscrew are included.