When you travel with a millennial son, your itinerary often veers in unanticipated directions, especially when it comes to booking hotel rooms.
Planning our family trip to Lecce, a city in the Puglia region of Italy, was a “group-think” but we delegated hotel selection to our son, whom we consider a master at analyzing online hotel reviews. Whatever system he uses, his recommendations have never disappointed.
On our own, we probably would have chosen one of the luxury hotels in Lecce’s city center known for its Baroque architecture. Instead, we wound up booking a room at 8 Piu Hotel, an ultra-contemporary 4-star hotel with a name as unconventional as its Italian design.
The hotel had a 9.6 (exceptional) rating on Hotels.com based on 193 guest reviews and a five-star rating on TripAdvisor based on 1269 reviews. The cost of a regular guestroom was less than $100 with breakfast included (Admittedly, the cost of accommodations in Puglia tends to be more reasonable than in many other regions of Italy).
Since we were on a road trip with a flexible schedule, the lure of free parking and the hotel’s liberal room cancellation policy were also attractive.
The outside of the hotel is flanked by eye-catching modern sculptures.
The spacious light-filled, white-walled lobby offers a bank of computers for public use.
Check-in was smooth, efficient and friendly but the wow- factor was our room in this easy-on-the-eye hotel designed to please any tech-savvy, connected traveler.
We booked one of the 84-room hotel’s three junior suites, which offered an ultra-comfortable king-size bedroom with a small dining table and chairs, and a large sleeping alcove with a daybed and wall-to-wall desk.
The minimalist design of the furniture and fabrics was bold, modern and tasteful. The relaxing taupe walls had pops of magenta and lime. The suite had touch lighting controls with dimmers; an air-conditioning control panel beside the bed, digital radio alarm clock, and a flat-screen TV with satellite and pay-per-view stations and direct access to YouTube, Facebook and Twitter. The minibar was stocked with free bottled water and room service was available for a modest 5 euro surcharge.
Our room had a mirrored walk-in closet (without a door) with ample storage space for luggage, and lots of drawers and tabletops.
But the pièce de résistance was the oversized “chromo therapy” shower that allows guests to self-select the lighting color of their shower experience from a range of different hues. The shower illuminates both the room and the shower stall, thought to be therapeutic for one’s mood.
Location, location, location
Although the property has excellent access to the autostrada (highway, in Italian), the views outside the hotel are far from scenic. The hotel overlooks a parking lot, a car dealership and a cemetery.
8Piu is located on a major roadway that is about a ½-hour walk or 15-minute drive to the town center. Although possible, the walk wouldn’t be a stroll in the park, especially after dark.
However, driving a car to Lecce can be challenging, too; many portions of the city are pedestrian-only zones with time-limited metered parking on the perimeter—so there are obvious advantages to a hotel stay in the city center as opposed to the outskirts of town in terms of convenience.
While there were no restaurants either within walking distance or close by the hotel, 8 Piu does have a full-service restaurant called negroamara featured traditional foods of the Salento area prepared with an innovative flair.
The attractive breakfast area of negroamara offers a complimentary buffet breakfast each morning between 7-10:30 AM with a range of Italian and continental breakfast options.
Since our visit to Lecce was only for two nights, the comfort and amenities of a comfortable stay with free parking at 8 Piu Hotel trumped the relatively minor inconvenience of its location.
Moreover, the hotel was a terrific value and a unique experience: my first chromo therapy shower ever! Of course, mastering the room technology may have been daunting had we not been traveling with a tech guru.
Photo credits: Jerome Levine (unless otherwise noted)
IF YOU GO
8 Piu Hotel in Lecce (Puglia), Italy