If pushed, the Masseria Torre Coccaro would be our favourite hotel in Puglia. Art-loving owner Vittorio Muolo has kept the same loyal staff for decades, from Natale expertly mixing Bloody Marys in the bar to Tiziana and Alessandra welcoming new guests, we love them all. Brilliantly situated less than a mile from the coast but within a short drive of Puglia’s most important sites, the Coccaro works equally well for a relaxing beach holiday or for those wanting to explore this relatively unknown region of Italy.
Originally built in the XVI Century in defence against marauding Turkish pirates, the Coccaro has been restored with great sensitivity. The main tower overlooking the twinkling taverna lights of the piazza has gorgeous bedrooms on the second floor that are sleeker than the more rustic bedrooms in the courtyard. All the bedrooms are big and cool, with simple but beautiful, locally sourced furniture and antiques. Many of the rooms have their own little gardens, and as rooms are scattered throughout the grounds, the hotel has a feeling of intimacy more commonly found in private houses. At night the seating areas lit with lanterns and tea lights, makes it feel more Moroccan than Italian.
Puglia is a gourmet’s paradise and the hotel makes the most of local produce as well as making its own outstanding olive oil. The hotel has a cooking school as well as a fantastic Aveda spa housed in a cave in the garden.
As well as the gorgeous lake-like swimming pool, the Coccaro Beach Club is a quick shuttle bus ride away. The restaurant could be straight out of The Hamptons with its clapper board exterior, fading photos of the 70s and friendly staff in white shorts and polo shirts. Managed brilliantly by Leo, the kitchen serves super fresh grilled fish and sashimi as well as a daily hand rolled pasta. Further down the road is the more recently opened White Beach for expertly mixed sundowners, smooth grooves and super thin, incredibly moreish pizzas.