This Relais et Chateau property oozes charm but could use a hefty dose of practicality.
On the positive side, the location is fabulous. The grounds are beautiful and tastefully landscaped, with many fruit trees, lawn areas and walking paths. The hotel overlooks a valley sprinkled with vineyards and orchards, with hills in the distance. There is a fashionable spa, with an indoor/outdoor pool, and also an outdoor pool (which we did not use, as the weather was a bit cool for swimming). The staff was very friendly and helpful, doing their best to accommodate their guests’ wishes. The restaurant is the prize—impeccable service and wonderful food. If you are interested, take the cooking school, where you will learn more than you could anticipate.
In keeping with the name of this hotel, the owner (a lovely lady) has a large falcon (called Leela) which is left outside during good weather. If you are fortunate, as we were, she will present the falcon on her arm. For us, it was an unusual and lovely touch.
On the other hand, there are some practical issues. First, if you are driving, make sure you arrive during daylight (or have the exact address in your GPS—the coordinates are not totally accurate). The last 2.4 kilometers of the drive to Il Falconiere consist of a one-lane road, frequently bordered by a high stone fence. At nighttime, the drive is daunting. Second, the rooms, while charming, lack some practical amenities. Our room (No. 10) was charmingly decorated with period furniture. Ironically, that was part of the problem. The antique armoire was not deep enough for standard size coat hangers. As a result, our hanging garments were cramped when the doors were closed. Moreover, one of my pet peeves is theft-proof coat hangers. I can understand why a one-star hotel might see the need for theft-proof coat hangers, but I would expect that the clientele who can afford to stay at a Relais et Chateau property are unlikely to purloin coat hangers. The bathroom has only one pedestal sink which lacked any storage place for toiletries. There was a small low cabinet which of course my wife took over, leaving me to put my toiletries on a shelf that was no more than 18 inches higher than the floor—not a very comfortable situation. In addition, we could not access wifi from our room, which was a real annoyance. The excuse was that the walls were very thick. In this day and age, the solution would be to upgrade the hotel’s wifi system, as many if not most guests like to be able to access the internet while traveling.