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Hotel Borgo Egnazia – Puglia, Italy

By: Ruth Arad | Architect and Interior Designer specializing in hotel design


This is the 10th blog in a series being written as I travel around the world in the wake of hotels that excel through exceptional design. Hotel and hospitality design has been my discipline and my business for a decade. I invite you to come along to wonderful, faraway places. In each blog, we’ll take a short trip together toward extraordinary experiences that will be etched into your memory. Each journey is accompanied by professional explanations that add another layer to the hospitality experience.


This is the 10th blog in a series being written as I travel around the world in the wake of hotels that excel through exceptional design. Hotel and hospitality design has been my discipline and my business for a decade. I invite you to come along to wonderful, faraway places. In each blog, we’ll take a short trip together toward extraordinary experiences that will be etched into your memory. Each journey is accompanied by professional explanations that add another layer to the hospitality experience.


It’s been about a year since my stay at Borgo Egnazia in Puglia. I’ve kept its story under wraps out of a reluctance to divulge the secret of its existence and throw it into the public domain.

On further thought, I realized it was selfish to keep such an amazing experience to myself. So I’m finally sharing it: Hotel Borgo Egnazia embodies the story of the Puglia region in a wordless conversation that reveals its rich culture, fertile land, beauty and architecture.

As soon as I arrived, I immediately let go of all the day-to-day hassles of life and experienced the powerful pull of nature, a sense of complete calm, and sheer harmony. This is a place where you come face-to-face with yourself, as nowhere else.


Located on the Adriatic coast of southern Italy, Borgo Egnazia was designed by Italian architect Pino Brescia, in the style of an old Italian village and built entirely of local pale tuff [sand stone] stone. The Hotel offers stunning accommodation to 92 parties in 63 suites and guestrooms and 29 3-storey townhouses. The complex is set in the heart of an olive grove recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site, and extends over a broad agricultural area where vegetables are grown in the traditional way. The Hotel has two private beaches and dazzling green golf courses.

The owners – Aldo Melpignano and his family – wanted to create a hotel like no other – one that is authentic and in keeping with the historical towns that neighbour it. The Hotel’s success has helped Puglia become one of the world’s favourite touristic destinations. The story began in 1996, when the Melpignano family converted their holiday home Masseria San Domenico into a hotel. Today, they hold a number of properties under the umbrella of the San Domenico Hotel Group.

A view of the main building through the prism of the olive groves Credit: Borgo Egnazia


Already, upon our arrival at Borgo Egnazia by car, we had the good fortune to experience the beautiful and special welcome that is unique to this place. An Italian came out to take our car for parking and organize our luggage. He took care of everything, without our having to lift a finger or take our bags and baggage out of the car.

Next, my eye caught sight of a beautiful woman wearing a white linen dress with a recycled bag on her shoulder. The first thought that came to mind was how I could get hold of a dress exactly like hers.

It soon transpired that the dress is the dress code of the personal advisers or hostesses at the Hotel. The concept of personal hospitality is the forte of the place, hence the choice of local women whose job it is to ensure that guests get to carry out all their plans in the area, starting with recommendations of sites to visit, where to eat, and through to anecdotes about the road ahead, and where to park. They printed out maps and explanations for us as we would have done for ourselves had we been in front of our computer and printer at home. I felt that there was someone really looking after us and our needs, which instilled in me a sense of calm and enjoyment that erased all worry from my mind. The interaction with our hostess left us feeling as if we had a local friend, which was exactly her intention.

Our personal hostess together with colleagues, all in white linen dresses Credit: Ruth Arad


From the first moment of greeting – collection of our car and luggage, and acquaintance with our personal companion for the duration of our stay, everything had a natural feel to it. Mina, our hostess, led us through the large courtyard towards the main building.

The entrance to the main building, which houses the reception area, was inspiring – the whole space is white with an impressive vaulted ceiling, local stone flooring, and lighting that would change over the course of the day. The design is based on shades of white and earth tones, set off against local touches of colour and tradition such as lemons, jugs and hand-woven baskets.

The main building with the arched ceiling at its centre and seating and reception sofas on both sides Credit: Borgo Egnazia


The core of the main building extends over two levels, from where we head up to the rooms. A changing art installation adorns the central space.

A changing central installation at the heart of the main building Credit: Borgo Egnazia


The decorative decisions of architect Pino Brescia, taken in close cooperation with the hotel owner, Aldo Melpignano, are identical in all the Hotel’s rooms – timeless, classical design, revealing sensitivity to the spirit of the place, nature and tradition. The design expresses the connection to the region; all the furniture and bathroom fittings were designed by the architect and built by local craftsmen.

Natural materials predominate – local tuff stone was used to clad the building, and stone from the town of Ostuni adorns the flooring and interior cladding, mainly in a palette of natural earth tones. The design radiates warmth and homely intimacy, which blends with and adds to the comfort and the exceptional service standard of Borgo Egnazia.

Our room on the top floor Credit: Borgo Egnazia

The pampering bathroom made of local stone Credit: Borgo Egnazia


The architecture is based on a tradition that called for the construction of small windows and balconies overlooking the landscape. Every building has a balcony, and from the higher rooms you can go out onto the roof of the building and enjoy the 360° views.

The golf courses with their sea views Credit: Borgo Egnazia


A view toward the swimming pools Credit: Borgo Egnazia


There is plenty to see in the Fasano area – beautiful, picturesque villages, buildings set atop cliffs against which the waves break in Polignano. Ostuni is fascinating – the entire town is built as a fortress on a hilltop. In Alberobello the bright white walls and thatched roofs of its unique trullo houses stand out. There were so many more places to explore, and we loved our journeys of discovery. The Hotel of course has plenty of pleasures of its own to offer, so we found ourselves enjoying every moment of our stay.

Borgo Egnazia has three outdoor pools and one internal pool, a private beach with round-the-clock shuttles via the golf courses and olive groves. One day, I felt like simply floating on a pool mattress and discovered to my delight that there was a whole collection of pool inflatables available for the enjoyment of guests.

La Frasca Restaurant Credit: Borgo Egnazia


One of the greatest pleasures in Italy is related to culinary experiences. The Hotel has three restaurants and a bar, serving guests throughout the day, from a restaurant under the mentorship of a Michelin-starred chef, to a beach restaurant. Each has its own particular atmosphere with menus catering to different tastes and appetites.

La Frasca, for example, is in the style of an Italian trattoria. Here everyday Italian dishes are served next to an open kitchen. Breakfast is served here too. The restaurant is decorated with dried local grain produce suspended from the ceiling.

The central courtyard where special dinners and parties are held Credit: Borgo Egnazia


The Lounge is located opposite one of the pools and is perfect for lunch or a light snack Credit: Borgo Egnazia


What particularly captivated my heart was the attention paid to children and their parents. As well as the service of private nannies for the children of its guests, the hotel provides a children’s club tailored to age groups, offering fun activities like baking workshops, bicycle rides, and a visit to a local farm.

Although we stayed there as a couple on our baby moon vacation, the thoughtfulness that went into the design of the children’s dining room was obvious, and we decided that we’d be back for a return visit with our children.

Even the small guests deserve a hospitality experience tailored to their size – the most colourful place in the Hotel and the children that bring taste and colour into our lives Credit: Borgo Egnazia


And, as the cherry on top, it’s worth mentioning that the Hotel has won numerous awards, and is, among others, 2016 winner of Europe’s Best Wellness Spa Award from Boutique Hotel Awards; and winner of Best Hotel of the Year 2016 from Best of the Best Virtuoso Awards. In 2017, it has again taken many top awards, included top place in the Condé Nast Traveller list of the 8 best spas in the world in the most life-changing experience category, not to mention the hotel’s Haute Cuisine Award from World Luxury Hotel Resorts for its Ristoranta Due Camini. [http://borgoegnazia.com/puglia-recommended-hotels]


For other blogs in the series, please visit my website.

If you have any comments or questions, you’re invited to email me: info@rutharad.com

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