This chic but simple 8-bedroom guesthouse may have been named one of Tatler's 101 Best Hotels, and have some very impressive rock'n'roll credentials but its friendly owners ensure that the glamour comes with a laid-back house-party vibe, which, combined with accommodation in the separate 'Pig Sty' cottage, and lively communal suppers (three times a week), is ideal for sociable parents with small children.
Former music industry exec, John Voigtmann, ditched NYC and looking after The Strokes and Christina Aguilera for the good life in Tuscany when he stumbled on La Bandita a couple of years ago. One look at the stunning view from the infinity pool and the apparently crazy decision makes perfect sense, but only after the combined efforts of John and architect Ab Rogers (clients include Tate Modern and Comme des Garcons in Paris) transformed this former sheep farm into a rustic-chic slice of heaven.
There's plenty of evidence of the history of the house each evening when cocktails in the kitchen/lounge/bar are accompanied by the sights and sounds of local farmers rounding up the sheep, bells tinkling. Mini guests and parents often follow them down to the barn and pet the lambs.
The main building has six air-conditioned bedrooms. The smallest have the most breathtaking views, whilst the large four have luxurious sunken baths and oversized showers. All come with bath and skincare products by Eau D’Italie, Santa Maria Novella and Chianti Cashmere. Opposite the main house, about 15 metres away and with its own private pergola, the Pig Sty Suite offers more privacy and space. A brilliant sliding wall turns the open-plan room into a family-friendly two-bedroom suite with a double bedroom, kitchenette and sofabed plus cot (if required).
Along with the spectacular 72-metre infinity pool, there's a Jacuzzi, steam room and open-plan living space with extensive record collection and kitchen for guests and the chef to use. La Bandita does not have a full service restaurant, but in addition to daily breakfast and lunch, guests gather three times a week for a family-style dinner (or at individual tables in private areas of the property) for a meal that highlights the simple local Tuscan cuisine, with wines handpicked from small regional producers. The full time gourmet chef can booked for private meals at one of the dining areas scattered throught the grounds any time. A selection of fine Cuban cigars is stored on the property.
Owner, John, aims to ensure guest feel more like a visiting friend than a client and provides the kind of individual attention that big hotels can't. He or another English-speaking staff member are always on hand and keen to help with tasks like booking a table at a nearby country restaurant, detailing directions to the ruined abbey at the end of an old footpath, and arranging lunch with the small winemaker who will personally walk you through his vineyard.
La Bandita is the perfect base from which to explore the stunning Val d’Orcia and the hill towns of southern Tuscany many of which have preserved their medieval and Renaissance influences up to the deserted castles, abbeys and monasteries there is plenty to visit and admire. Bagno Vignoni is worth a mention, with its hot outdoor sulphur springs which travellers and locals have frequented since the Roman times. Fo the fashion forward,
discount outlets for Prada, Dolce & Gabbana and Gucci are all reachable in under an hour.
For children there is plenty to see and do , whether it be whiling away hours chasing pigeons in Siena's Campo or travelling to Livorno to visit the water park maybe even a trip to the brilliant zoo at Arezzo.
Getting There: La Bandita is 3k down a bumpy road in between Chianciano, Montepulciano and Pienza (not appropriate for low clearance cars). It is around 20 minutes from the Chianciano Terme/Chiusi exit of the A1 Autostrada. The nearest airport is at Perugia approx. 40miles away, whilst Rimini, Bologna Flori and Pisa are all within approx. 80miles.
The nearest major airport is Rome Fiumicino Airport (approx. 100 miles away).