Castello del Nero
This 50-room boutique hotel, designed by Alain Mertens (interior designer to Madonna and Sting), is another reinvention of the classic Tuscan villa. The 12th-century former nobleman’s residence on 990 hilly acres finds Philippe Starck Ghost chairs set beneath family crests and frescoes, and ancient stone-framed windows hung with bold curtains. Most of the rooms have wood-beamed ceilings, flat-screen TV’s, and marble bathrooms, not to mention stunning views of the property’s olive groves and vineyards. But be sure to venture out of your room for an aromatic massage at the spa or a meal of organic Tuscan dishes such as rice-and-spelt risotto served with porcini mushrooms and chestnuts at the hotel’s stable turned restaurant. Also on the estate: a historic, frescoed chapel and adjoining Florentine rose garden—ideal for reenacting scenes from your favorite E. M. Forster novel.
Congratulations to Mei Lin, winner of Top Chef Season 12.