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“A home away from home!”
Review of La Bandita

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La Bandita
Ranked #10 of 33 Pienza B&B and Inns
Reviewed June 30, 2008

If you want to feel like living like a Tuscan god/goddess you must stay at La Bandita. I am not exaggerating! Location, location, location! It is nested on a majestic backdrop of rolling hills, the staff is genuine and willing to make your stay a time you will never forget, the style is clean modern chic, the neighbors are funny looking but they make the landscape ever more real (the sheeps)...

It is up a dirt road but the reward is so worth it! The owners received us like good old friends. They had a lovely white wine ready for us upon our arrival. The place was immaculate, the bathtub is a bubble bath lovers dream, and not to mention, the unlimited cappuccinos. You must try David's (the chef) delicious platters and Simone's homemade pizza. Just don't forget to ask the owners to organize that for you.

The infinity pool was closed during our time there but that gives me more reasons to come back. I don't know if this helps but we extended our stay twice! No more to say.. Right?

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled with family
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1  Thank laradiva
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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146 - 152 of 174 reviews

Reviewed June 13, 2008

I'm torn in writing this review as on one hand I wish for nothing but for the owners and staff at La Bandita to succeed and on the other, I would love to keep this magical place completely secret for myself!!

Believe all the press you have read...and then imagine it to be 100% more beautiful and you have La Bandita! It is such a pleasure to have stayed in this amazing environment that on the eve of my departure I'm trying to find any potential hiding spot that will keep me here for longer!

Located in the Val D'Orcia region of Tuscany this boutique hotel (which we hired out as an entire villa) is surrounded by the most exquisite tapestry of Tuscan countryside it's impossible to write how peaceful, stunning and breathtaking this place is.
The rooms are all light-filled, beautiful, spacious and elegantly decorated. The showers are large enough to contain a room of their own (such a rarity in Italy) and all of the common areas are filled with so many great books and records it's hard to drag yourself away during the day to explore the many great local villages.

And then there's the staff...
John and Ondine are the most gracious hosts you can imagine and as per all the other reviews that not only welcome you with open arms but truly make you feel like you're a friend and not just a customer. From day 1 John answered all of my numerous emails and questions with such a calm and receptive manner that I was ready to take him out for a wine before even arriving in the country!! And then there's David their Scottish chef who is a genius in the kitchen and cooked the most scrumptious food with such ease that it's almost like watching a TV cooking show. He catered for all of our parties various needs and created such wonderful food I'd like to take him back to Australia with us.
Along with Simone (who cooks FANTASTIC pizzas) and the wonderful Francesca, John and Ondine have gathered the most competent group of people to run La Bandita.

We are already planning our next trip back!!

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with family
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2  Thank JL526
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 3, 2008

Everyone has a vision of what their stay in Tuscany will be like -- magnificent views of rolling hills, cypruses lining the dirt road to your villa and blooming flowers and sheep dotting the countryside -- all with a glass of wine from the local vineyard in your hand. Look no further -- La Bandita is a spectacular inn/villa/bed&breakfast (call it what you will), one in which you will never want to leave. From your welcome glass of wine until your departure from the property, you will feel pampered and relaxed but in an unfussy way. From the linens to the soap to the in-house chef to the owners, no detail has been overlooked. If you want to stay onsite and enjoy the infinity pool and the spectacular views, David (the onsite chef) will treat you to a feast. If getting out and exploring the local (amazing) towns that are nearby are more your thing, John and Ondine wil make you reservations and tell you what you absolutely cannot miss. I have just left, and I am planning my next visit for the fall. It will be one of those places you'll be bragging to your friends you went and one to which you will return time and time again.

  • Stayed: June 2008, traveled with friends
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Thank TumbleweedinParis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed May 12, 2008

Just returned from a great weekend at La Bandita. As i use to visit Tuscany quite often, this time i wanted to try something different from all the other boring hotels of the sorrounding areas.. and La Bandita was just perfect!! Looking at the pictures on their website i simply loved the contemporary style of this retreat. The amazing owners John and Ondine did such a great work with this old farmhouse: the rooms, the chic decor of the living areas, the huge bathrooms, the infinity pool and everything else here is beautiful.
The location is superb, on the top of a hill with stunning 360° views around Val d'Orcia. Pienza is just a few minutes away by car, but be aware of the long, dirt and bumpy road (don't panic, just drive slow!).
One of the best things of La Bandita is the fact that they really make you feel like at home.. when we arrived at the property John and Simone welcomed us and asked if we wanted to stay for dinner with them.. Francesca offered us a glass of white wine and then we sat around the table with the other guest, chatting, eating delicious home made pizzas, drinking wonderful wines, grappa, vin santo.. amazing sociable atmosphere!!
Breakfasts and lunch (kudos to David -the chef-!) we had there were so good.. John and Ondine had also a lot of great recommendations for restaurants in the nearby areas.
I could go on for hours and hours trying to explain how amazing is this place.. you have to go there and see with your eyes this wonderful part of Italy and, of course, to stay at La Bandita!
I can't wait to go back!!!

  • Stayed: May 2008, traveled as a couple
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1  Thank interpol81
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 5, 2008

My boyfriend and I recently spent 4 nights at La Bandita, and I wish we could just move in forever.

La Bandita is lovely. Yes, it is a challenge to find the first time, but once discovered, you will never want to leave. The property is beautiful and the bedrooms divine (great and accurate pictures can be found on the website www.la-bandita.com).

The owners John and Ondine are amazing hosts and see to your every need. They (and the managers Francesca and Simone) know the region well and are full of suggestions for hidden gems to visit, plus detailed directions with which to find them.

Dinners at La Bandita are either a wine and grappa-filled dinner party with John, Ondine and other guests or a gourmet retreat set aside for two. There's also a swimming pool, which in summer months I expect will be lovely. I hope to go and experience it firsthand

  • Stayed: March 2008, traveled as a couple
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Thank Maria G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 2, 2008

“Turn right at the dirt road lined with cypress trees and begin the long ascent up the hill” read the directions. It had been a trip that began as a planned 10th anniversary celebration in 2001. But then there was September 11, 2001. Time and travel stopped for many of us then. Fast forward to our 15th year of wedded bliss (really, who ever coined that term?) and our dream trip to Italy was becoming a reality.

We had flown all night from Philadelphia to Rome and began a drive north with a few hours detour east to Perugia and then headed toward Pienza to our destination, La Bandita. As we crested the golden hill overlooking the Val D’Orcia against the backdrop of the cerulean sky, I pinched myself in delight. I was finally here, breathing in this spectacular, serene, sheer natural beauty of Tuscany, scenes I had only read about or seen in magazines or movies. As we approached La Bandita, an 18th century restored farmhouse we were greeted warmly by Ondine Cohane, who with her husband, John Voightman restored and opened La Bandita in Summer 2007.

She cheerfully escorted us through the farm house that was swathed in bright sunlight reflecting off of the crisp white walls, light wood floors, and white canvas furniture. The walls were lined with bulging bookshelves begging to be explored. In the middle of the common room sat a record player book ended by stacks of old record albums. I made a mental note to explore the bins of albums and rediscover the feel of vinyl and the gentle touch of a record needle that was part of my youth in the 1970’s. We passed a sleek open kitchen with gorgeous travertine countertops and a large community farm table with the requisite bowl of vibrantly colored fruit just ripe for the taking. Ondine opened the door to our room to reveal a bed in crisp white linens with a sheer white canopy sitting on a raised platform level with the large window opening to a view of the hills and valley. Behind the bed was a deep soaking tub which faced another window with a private view of the valley. Two thick white robes and thicker white towels were beckoning for wear as I planned to soak away the jet lag and relax into our arrival. Ondine offered us a bottle of wine and suggestions for dinner reservations that evening. She excused herself to practice yoga with another guest out by the infinity pool that looked as if it spilled down into the valley. I had found a place of absolute peace and serenity as I breathed in the crisp blue sky, yellow hills and simple beauty of this restored Farmhouse. This was perfect.

Once we were refreshed and napped, we entered into the main room of the house to meet John Voightman, the owner. He was equally warm and inviting as he welcomed us to their home. He then gently shared with us our mistake (to my massive embarrassment!). We were booked at the other La Bandita, an 18th century country estate three hours further east in Tuscany!

I had booked this trip online as part of a package. In my hurry to pack and get home and kids settled before we left for our flight, I realized we had no driving directions to La Bandita from the Rome airport. I quickly googled La Bandita, found directions, pressed print and we were off. What I failed to realize was that there were two La Bandita’s and we had arrived at the fabulous guest home of John Voightman and Ondine Cohane which was not where we had reservations. The two websites differed by a mere underscore in the address. Through my tears of embarrassment and disappointment (and some from sheer jet lag), John and Ondine insisted that we stay with them that night as their guests. The lateness of evening and the narrow mountain roads would be difficult to navigate in the dark especially as roads are poorly marked, hence directions like “turn right at the dirt road lined with Cypress trees”. We borrowed their cell phone to contact the other La Bandita to explain our mistake and ask that they hold our reservation for our arrival the next day. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at a local trattoria in Pienza owned by friends of John and Ondine and fell fast asleep in our heavenly bed that looked out upon the black sky alight with stars. In the morning, John helped us to map our way, giving us wonderful suggestions for our side trip to Sienna. Our trip to La Bandita, www.la_bandita.com, was much too brief, but we left with a promise to return for a much longer stay in hope to spend more time in the wonderful guest home of its owners who were so kind and welcoming. It was the best mistake I ever made. It was perfect.

  • Stayed: September 2007, traveled as a couple
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2  Thank kaapg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed September 10, 2007

My opinion of La Bandita might be somewhat biased as they saved my bacon by being the only decent place in Italy with availability at two weeks notice for our honeymoon!!
But I was delighted with my choice.
The accommodation is excellent. The rooms are spacious, furnishings simple but luxurious. Bed very comfortable. Bathrooms excellent, with a massive shower. We had deluxe room 6, which had a stand-alone bath next to the bed. Bliss. Most places charge lots more for a superior room, here it's only 10% more. The views from this room are to die for.
The communal areas are also great. Massive kitchen, big eating area both indoors and outdoors, living area with satellite TV, DVD, and a huge library including many travel books. Hammam is a bonus too. Infinity pool cold but very nice, with plenty of chairs and loungers, and more stunning views over the valley.
We stayed for 5 nights, and had 3 dinners and 1 lunch there. David is an excellent chef, having previously worked in several quality establishments. Food top notch. Roast potatoes fantastic (but I reckon mine challenge yours, David!). Enjoyed 4 or 5 courses each time.
The first four nights there was only one other couple staying in the pig sty suite, so we had the main building to ourselves. The last night there were three other couples, but still a feeling of privacy.
A few other observations (comments, not criticisms):
- The drive is long and bumpy, but you need to get to isolation somehow! It was so quiet in our room I couldn't tell if the window was open or shut! The front drive is less bumpy, but a bit longer drive if you're coming from Pienza / Montalcino / Siena.
- Some nights it was quite windy, and our last night we had to eat indoors. It's quite high up, and can get cool at night, so definitely bring a warm top!
- A previous review said this is not a hotel. If you viewed La Bandita's web site, it would be obvious it is not a hotel in the traditional sense. The criticisms in this review are as much a reflection of the other guests, rather than the venue. Don't let one person's bad experience put you off.
- Free soft drinks. A first from my experience, and one some other hotels might follow.
- They were having a few problems with the wireless internet connection. Not surprising given its location.
La Bandita is a great base to explore the local area. John is an excellent host and makes some great recommendations. We will definitely be back.

  • Stayed: September 2007, traveled as a couple
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3  Thank Rob076
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Additional Information about La Bandita

Address: Localita Podere Lucia 14, 53026, Pienza, Italy
Location: Italy > Tuscany > Province of Siena > Pienza
Amenities:
Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 33 B&Bs / Inns in Pienza
Price Range: $376 - $383 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — La Bandita 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stylish 8-room country retreat in the beautiful Tuscany countryside. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
La Bandita Hotel Pienza

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