More about Hotel Castello di Sinio
A Sense of Place
The best hotels, like the best wines, reflect their region.
Above and around Sinio are the Langhe, a series of low, steep-sided ridges that radiate northeast toward Alba like fingers of a hand. On the hilltops is a chain of medieval fortress-villages, not far apart but isolated from one another by the landscape. In between are narrow valleys, densely planted with vines -- Nebbiolo, Barbera and Dolcetto primarily -- a vast monoculture of grapes. The signature wine is Barolo and it is big business, done carefully and with love by literally hundreds of small farmers and vintners. If anyone is getting rich -- and some are -- they don't show it much. Yet there is a sense of comfort and prosperity in the air, and great pride in what they have accomplished.
The Hotel Castello di Sinio feels just like this. One is struck first of all by the building itself. It is a castle all right, that seems to have been taken apart stone by stone, polished, then built back up again in perfect order. Castles are cold and drafty? Not this one. Think warm, snug and beautifully furnished. The gardens are lovely as well. We were there in mid-September and it felt like spring.
Next there's the welcome. I don't know that I've ever met two people as dedicated to running a hotel as James and Denise; dedicated to you the guest, and to the place and its surroundings. Feeling like refugees after a 20-hour flight we struggled up the drive and were greeted by James, beaming and offering Prosecco either before or after our nap. We chose "before." (Thanks, James.) The room was ready and perfect -- a two-story suite with loft/sitting area/second bedroom above and master bedroom below, and plumbing unlike anything you've ever seen before in a castle; i.e., high-end fixtures that were beautiful and they worked! I don't think the original occupants had cable TV either, or a phone with no access charges, or fancy "card-key" lighting controlled from the entry door. Quite, clean, spacious; superb.
Next, there's the kitchen, which is run by Denise. How she gets so much out of herself and a small staff is a mystery. Breakfast is a delight -- pastry, meats and cheeses of the region, little French toasts or a crepe served hot at the table -- and four nights a week she operates a first-rate restaurant for hotel guests and others, that highlights local produce and cuisine. Piemontese cooking is very traditional, hidebound some say, but not in her hands. Familiar dishes are lighter, brighter, fresher-tasting than you will find elsewhere.
Finally, the advice. The proprietors were (and I believe still are) tour operators before they opened the Hotel. As a result, they are full of good ideas about what to see and do in the region, and precise instructions about how to do it -- which helps. Moreover, both can pick up the telephone and provide restaurant reservations, arrange winery tours, and generally make life easier for the guest. And they do so willingly, constantly, and for all comers.
In short, the place is typical of the Langhe: beautiful, business-like, a Mom-and-Pop operation with heart. I give it high marks.
Generosity of spirit...
Coming from a place where the bottom line seems to dictate, I found our stay at the Hotel Castello di Sinio to be a lovely and refreshing change. From moment one, it seemed like everything was being done to ensure our delight and comfort. Our room was a beautiful private suite with every emenity...gorgeous linens, highest end shampoos and soaps, constant replacement of bottled water, sumptuous robes and slippers, antique furniture...ultimate comfort!
And the public spaces in the hotel were equally charming; the gardens were exhuberant and immaculate, the living room warm and inviting...we met several very interesting guests over beautiful local wines while using the laptops provided to guests for checking emails etc.
James and Denise gave us countless maps and suggestions which helped us to discover and come to love the Piemonte, including many dinner reservations at restaurants we may never have found on our own. They also arranged a tour at Cavalotto Winery, which was a revelation. We found their hospitality fun, expert and inviting, and are already looking forward to returning to this lovely hotel. Many thanks James and Denise!
We had the pleasure of spending 2 wonderful days at Hotel Castello di Sinio October 2nd and 3rd. We were 2 couples traveling through Northern Italy for 2 weeks by car. After driving from Cinque Terre on unfamiliar roads with a GPS that seemed very confused at times, we were warmly and graciously welcomed by James and Denise into their castle.
Right from the start, we felt as though we were staying with friends, rather than at a hotel. They not only helped us make the most of our short stay by making reservations for us at restaurants and vineyards, but we also spent some wonderful “down time” sitting in the garden having a glass of local wine, chatting with our new friends, James and Denise . These two people take you to a level of comfort that I have never experienced while staying in another country. People have to realize this is an 11th century castle. There might be some sounds of silence and church bells ringing but look out and see where you are and all should be right with the world. This is a wonderful property and these people go far past the usual "call of duty" to make your stay here pleasurable. There knowledge and relationships within the area far exceeds anything one can imagine. We arrived there mid afternoon just when the resturants in Italy are closing and a phone call later we walked down the street and had one of the most wonderful lunches of our trip. Thank you Giacomo.....On his recommendation we also experienced one of our finest dinners in Italy in the small town of Monforte d Alba at Il Giardino Da Felicin. This one is a must do for anyone staying at the castle. The chef, Nino would have a 5 star resturant any where in the USA. I can't say enough about these two passionate people James and Denise. If I wore a hat I would tip it to you both. You helped to make this one of the most memorable parts of our 2 week stay in Italy.
We made our reservations based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews on TripAdvisor. Everything that has been written on this board in regards to the comforts and amenities of this hotel are true. The accommodations are superb.
Since we were there on a Monday and Tuesday, we did not get to sample the delicious dinners everyone has raved about, but we did enjoy the wonderful breakfast spread which was the best breakfast of our trip. The only regret we have was not being there long enough to fully enjoy all that the area and our hosts had to offer. That will be rectified on our next trip, which hopefully will be sooner rather than later.
A unique place in a country full of unique places
My wife and I had the pleasure of staying with James and Denise at their wonderful hotel in mid-September. To say that this hotel (it felt more like their home) exceeded our expectations is an understatement. Why was it so wonderful?
1) James and Denise truly make it a great experience. They are great hosts that are willing and able to help you with just about anything. From detailed area maps, suggestions on places to visit, driving directions and even making appointments for dinner and at vineyards - nothing is beyond them. In the evenings, they are always around and seem to love to sit down, share a glass of wine and hear about your day. Imagine sitting in your friends living room (in a 13th century castle) and chatting it up and that is what you have.
2) The property itself is absolutely beautiful. The castle has been beautifully restored both outside and inside. The rooms have been updated with new appliances and beds, but they maintained their old world feel. The exterior is full of character and there are a number of places to eat, take pictures or just sit and relax.
3) Piedmont is fantastic. The selection of the town of Sinio for their location is ideal. The surrounding area is a treasure trove of small towns, beautiful vineyards and landscape and fantastic people. If you are looking for a place to relax, decompress and see nature at its best - this is it.
My wife and I agree that visiting this area was a great decision, but staying at this hotel and having the opportunity to meet Denise and James are what made it magical. They truly care about their guests and did both the big and little things to make our stay fantastic. When we go back to Piedmont, and we will, we will be calling on them again.
Ultimate Piemonte Escape, Beautiful Spot, Flawless Service
My friend and I agreed that the meals and wine that we enjoyed last week at Hotel Castello di Sinio were absolutely the best we have ever indulged in. This is saying a lot for a couple of wine chugging California 'foodies'. The only thing more hedonistic than the combination of fresh white truffles, locally grown produce, savory wild boar and pheasant and fork tender beef is washing them down with the most complex and full bodied Barolo and Barbaresco wines you can imagine... and doing all of this in a castle built in 1100.
The location is spectacular and the hosts of the hotel, Denise and Jay, go out of their way to accomodate the diverse and global needs, wants and idiosycracies of thier guests. Their knowledge of the local area, including topics as random as history, wine making, truffle markets, cheese production, churches and restaurants completely enhance the Castello experience, and make it easy to explore the area.
The hotel has been carefully restored and the lobby, grounds and rooms evidence the attention to detail that seperates a good hotel from a great one. When sleeping in an actual castle, the rooms feature high ceilings, exposed beams, and dormered windows which open onto a courtyard bursting with flowers. The views of surrounding vineyards, farms and villages are spectacular. So called 'luxury properties' in the US pale in comparison to the real thing.
In contrast to the Tuscan experience, a visit to the Piemonte is like a step back in time. Gone are the crowds of American tourists, traffic and Florentine street marketeers hawking imported goods. The Piemonte is like Tuscany must have been a hundred years ago. Pristine unspoiled villages, local markets featuring traditional products, and the unpresumptuous makers of some of the best food and wine in the world. Visit Castello di Sinio and explore Piemonte. Let Denise and James help you explore the area that they have grown so fond of - you might find yourself coming back again and again. I hope to!
The Absolute Best in Every Way
We've stayed in a number of fabulous accommodations in great locations and Hotel Castello di Sinio out-shines them all. We spent a week there with the incredible hosts Denise and James in mid-October and our high expectations were exceeded in every way from the quality of the renovated castle and rooms, to the delicious meals and wines, the hospitality and knowlege exhibited by James and Denise, the excellent location in beautiful Piedmont , etc., etc.
We can hardly wait to return to the amazing Hotel Castello di Sinio for an even longer visit.
THE Place to Go in Italy - Next Trip You Plan Should Be Here!
We can't stop raving about our 5 days at Hotel Castello di Sinio. It is a beautiful, comfortable, stylish little place set in a fairytale area of surprisingly gorgeous scenery and vineyards,even in December. It is run like a top by Denise & James in their unique and wonderful laid-back way.
We were impressed by everything and that is saying a lot as we live near Switzerland, and travel often to very nice places. We kept asking ourselves why we hadn't thought of coming to Piedmont and the Barolo area before. We decided it was because we were supposed to wait for Denise & James to open their castello! We are torn between wanting to keep it secret and wanting to tell everyone. Of course we immediately showed all our friends pictures and extolled the virtues which resulted in one of our friends booking their anniversary party there. Lucky us, we are invited! We can't wait to go back!!
What is so special about Hotel Castello di Sinio? Think a place that has authentic Italian country beauty and charm, great food & wine AND assures you of superb comfort, cleanliness, conveniences, helpfulness and warmth. It really allowed us to RELAX and ENJOY! The physical place, hotel & area, stand on their own as must go destinations but the personal attention of James & Denise and their staff move the experience in to the sublime. They were happy to help with any detail and had already anticipated many of them; from the perfect driving directions to extensive personal products in the rooms to remembering what we drank in the morning and bringing it before we could ask, we were constantly reminded of the thought and care they put in to taking care of their guests. From the laundry service to the laptops in the lobby, antiques to amenities, welcome wine to gratis water in the rooms, the details were nailed. Particulary impressive is that we didn't have to stay in the most expensive room to have the same luxury, comfort. and pampering. Our executive level room with a view in to the garden and surrounding hills was a joy and we were treated to exactly the same good cheer as everyone else.
Part of the special experience is that the two hosts are downright talented. They're both consummate hoteliers and seem to be made for their work. Then there is the hotel restaurant. If it were in London or New York, it would be one of the stars! We can honestly say that Denise's cooking is some of the best we've ever eaten in Italy or anywhere else for that matter. It is most definitely authentic Piemontese but more interesting and less heavy than other restaurants. The woman has a gift and a light hand! James in the dining room adds wonderfully to the wine experience and overall great experience.
Part of what we found special is that is that they seemed to be genuinely interested in US and the other guests. No matter how many times we started off asking them about THEM, they turned the conversations to their guests, their work, life and acomplishments. We thought is was very revealing that we were surrounded in the hotel with like minded people, people we would want to associate with – friendly, accomplished, interesting and unassuming, much like our hosts. Mornings or evenings sitting in the reception area, Denise & James asking us about our plans or our day, chatting with other guests, was stimulating along with being relaxing.
Lastly, we shouldn't overlook the area in which they are located. It too was special and an deal place to be based. The district is called Le Langhe, a term we'd never heard before, and is near Alba. After visiting other areas at Denise & James suggestion and armed by them with directions and itineraries and appointments, we decided that the other districts pale in comparison, especially if you are a wine lover.
The next trip you plan, whether you are a wine head or not, but especially if you are, should be here!
What's Not to Love?
I visited with a friend in early January and can't say enough great things about Castello di Sinio. Jay and Denise have done a wonderful job of fixing up the castle into a top class hotel. The property has plenty of charm without foregoing a single luxury from the decor and amenities in the rooms to the selection of wines in the bar to the lavish breakfast spreads. I think was struck me the most if how helpful and welcoming Jay, Denise and the staff were to us. They are full of ideas and suggestions for exploring the region and getting the most out of one's visit to Piedmont. It was great to learn from them which isn't an experience you get very often in a hotel. I'll definitely be back and won't make the mistake of only staying for two nights next time!
Our stay over the Christmas holidays can be summed up with this one word - PERFECTION. This vacation was our Christmas gift to ourselves and it turned out to be one of the smartest things we've ever done. We got away from all the holiday madness and instead spent it in heaven being spoiled silly by two fabulous hosts Denise and Giacomo, also known as James. We travel a couple of times a year and have stayed at many bigger, more glitzy resorts but none of them have come even close to the romance and warmth this place exudes. It is definitely a castle but a very cozy, friendly one! Even Pinot the cat and the two castle ghosts were friendly!! Honestly, this was one of the most romantic places we've ever stayed and by far the most caring and attentive. The welcome was truly welcoming, the food mind boggling, the wine superb, the rooms so atmospheric, the service outstanding and the knowledge and generousity of the hosts simply beyond words to describe.
We hope to come back for Christmas again next year and maybe stay for the New Year celebration that apparently Denise and James do each year. We visited with a wonderful couple from Alaska that were there doing just that for a second year in a row. I can't think of a more romantic setting to celebrate New Years. It would be ... PERFECT! Thank you Denise and James!!
We spent five wonderful nights at this beautifully updated castle atop a Piemonte hillside. We've been to Italy every year for the past 6 and have never stayed in a place as comfortable as Hotel Castello di Sinio. Each room is uniquely decorated - updated (plasma screens, towel warmers) but tasteful in keeping with the historical significance of the castle.
The American couple who owns the castle are fabulous hosts. Denise is a gourmet cook...our best meal of the trip was at the castle. James is an expert on regional wines. If you're planning a trip to Piemonte, don't miss this place and the expertise they can offer you in discovering the region! We'll go back!