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Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli
Ranked #3 of 11 Diso B&B and Inns
Reviewed June 15, 2009

Created as a labour of love over seven years by Alastair and Athena McAlpine, Il Convento provides everything - and leaves out everything - that one expects in a stylish idyll. Left out are the TVs, minibars, newspapers, telephones... - and you actually end up resenting seeing them when next you visit a "5-Star" modern hotel. 'In' are large stone-walled rooms in this converted convent, lovely furnishings, courtyards, gardens, bowls upon bowls of help-yourself fresh fruit, help-yourself wine cellar, fresh-water swimming pool ...

Il Convento provides a home for the McAlpine's vast collections of absorbing books (we gather that some 14½ tons are in storage awaiting display!) and hundreds of wooden artifacts from Mali and elsewhere. The latest collecting interest is cacti and succulents: the gardens and roof terraces are a forest of several hundred varieties. Our hosts also collect interesting guests and we were pleased to be counted amongst them.

The food experiences are just too special to begin to describe: everything fresh, sourced locally or from the gardens. A breakfast banquet, shared with your fellow retreaters (but served in a civilised way from 08:30 - 13:00), a simple cooked lunch on your own or with friends if you wish and dinner optional. If you happen to be a vegetarian then you will be in seventh heaven.

We descended on Il Convento for a friend's special party. This was exceptionally well-organised by our ever-attentive hosts ("we love parties") in the romantically candleight courtyard of the convent: a several-course light Puglia-style banquet was followed by musicians and dancers introducing us to frenetic Pizzica music. Remarkable.

The best tribute to Il Convento and to our hosts was that we were able to extend our stay and hope very much to return - as soon as possible. There is nowhere quite like it. If you like hotels this is not the place for you, but this is what 5-star is really all about.

  • Stayed: June 2009, traveled as a couple
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5  Thank ColinandJoyce
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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27 - 33 of 39 reviews

Reviewed October 5, 2008

My wife and I spent 6 nights here in mid June at the tail end of a what was a fabulous honeymoon touring Bascilicata and Puglia. Il Convento was by far and away the best place we stayed in (and the competition was extremely high). We were there under an hour when we decided to change our plans to stay an extra night. Why? Well . . .where do I start? Architecturally the place is beautiful - an old convent built around an open air cloister. It has a slightly crumbling faded grandeur which makes one feel instantly comfortable. Packed with books, textiles, articfacts, paintings and travel chests, the place feels like an aladdin's cave or museum and yet it dosen't feel stuffy - there is no panic or preciousness about any of the items.

The pool is fabulous - set in a garden of with a myriad of exotic cacti - one can sit in the scorching sun all day and be entertained by the lovely Pompeiia - a slightly dotty golden labrador.

The food is to die for. Lunch is included in the price for the night (we paid €350 for the two of us per night's B&B) The breakfast could feed you for a week. Yet they put on a feast for lunch also. Traditional Pugliese food comprising of fresh seafood, gorgeous vegetables, great salads and pastas all fantastically prepared by Pierre-Luigi - a very friendly, wizard in the kitchen.
Meals can be taken in the privacy of one of the dining/sitting rooms off the cloister or comunally with the other guests. We chose to eat communally mostly and found our fellow guests to be a freindly eclectic mix of honeynmooners, retirees and quirky oddballs - fab.
Guests are free to help themselves to the fridge during the day where there is a steady supple of wines, beers, juices, fresh fruit, homemade cakes - need I go on?

Il convento pulls off a very difficult trick. It makes one feel at home in a place that (most of us) will never have the luxury of affording. Alistair McAlpine and his wife Athena allow you free access to their home which is packed with a lifetime's worth of collectibles and they don't make you feel you need to keep your feet off the chairs or worry if you break a cup.

Fun, friendly, completely unique, unforgettable. Go.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank howleyink
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 10, 2008

Wonderful


Exceptionally expensive but worth every euro


It is a house party type of place. We were the only guests there last week - am not sure if I would like it when completely full of non compatible people

Superb food, superb hospitality, superb service. Fabulous book collection - I read three biographies when I was there

m

m

Stayed: April 2008
1  Thank max4321
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed November 30, 2006

Ive stayed her twice. Once as a surpise for my wife and then more recently for my 40th birthday with a dozen or so close friends.

Can honestly say this is one of the loveliest 'B&B's' I have stayed in. Athena and Alistair make you feel like long-lost relatives. Combine this wonderful hospitality with an exceptional chef, beautiful art and a laid back atmosphere and you quickly relax into the rythm of this magical place.

True it is not 'all mod cons' but that's the point - no internet, no phone, no TV. Just great company, exquisite food, intimate gardens and a freshater pool. Bedrooms are spacious and immaculately kept. Many have an African or South American theme (when booking have a chat with Athena so you can decide which room you want as each have a different feel, size and aspect).

Guests are encouraged to share meals together at the huge refectory table in the kitchen. That said there are private corners at every turn, so if being left alone is you thing then this is easily achieved.

In truth they could charge twice the amount and still fill the place. Fortunately Alistair has a more rounded view: 'This is not about making money - it's about making friends'. If only other hoteliers were so inclined.

One of my top 5 hotels ever.

  • Stayed: April 2006, traveled as a couple
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10  Thank julesbeck
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 31, 2006

Peaceful yet vibrant, relaxing yet stimulating….what a find! A real feast for the eyes, stomach and soul. Crammed with beautiful textile art and all sorts of fascinating books and treasures. Delicious linen sheets, soaps, pool, mouthwatering food and passionate attention to detail. Very charming and accommodating owners and staff who helped make our first holiday with a baby utterly relaxing and memorable. Can only speak wonders of Il Convento and will definitely treat ourselves to another visit one day soon.

  • Stayed: July 2006, traveled with family
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8  Thank TiK
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
A TripAdvisor Member
New York
161
Reviewed April 10, 2006

Fabulous publicity but way short on delivery, this intimate B&B lacks window screens to keep mosquitoes out, has damp sheets and mildewy rooms, and very close quarters where you can hear crying children, fighting couples, active couples, and even the owners grumbling--no wonder they must be tired after having so many people around.

  • Stayed: June 2005
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61  Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 23, 2005

Ecelectic blend of Italian antiques and Asian and African artifacts coupled with the charming and interesting owners make this one of the best hotels i have ever stayed in. There is also a wonderful chef for superb Puglian lunches in the lovely dining room. This Hotel is not to be missed!

  • Stayed: April 2004
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18  Thank lemonde88
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about Il Convento di Santa Maria di Costantinopoli

Address: via Convento | Marittima di Diso, Diso, Italy
Location: Italy > Puglia > Province of Lecce > Diso
Amenities:
Spa
Hotel Style:
Ranked #3 of 11 B&Bs / Inns in Diso
Price Range: $295 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Number of rooms: 9
Also Known As:
Il Convento Di Santa Maria Di Costantinopoli Hotel Diso
Il Convento Di Santa Maria Di Costantinopoli Puglia/Diso, Italy

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