Last night I stayed in a palace. Yes, a real, bonafide 18th century palace where original frescoes still grace the ceilings and every nook and cranny is littered with exquisite European antiques. I thought I had died and gone to Italian princess heaven.
Indeed the residence’s past guest list reads like the who’s who of the cultural and noble elite including: Lord Byron, George IV and Mary Shelley; even Puccini is rumoured to have regularly tinkled on the bar’s grand piano. It was time for me to don my finest threads and play at being regal for the night.
Upon check-in Mr LML and I are handed a spa pack: some slippers and a golden robe (you are in a palace after all, a plain robe wouldn’t do at all). The spa and wellness facilities are still one of the main reasons Europeans flock to Bagni di Pisa. With numerous treatment rooms, a couple of thermal pools and dedicated wellness experts, the place is fully equipped to relax and rejuvenate all holidaymakers – royal or otherwise.
They even do weight-loss programs – which may come in handy after enjoying the gourmet heaven that is Italian cuisine. We side-step the detox packages and instead spend the afternoon lazing on the pool deck reading and casually nipping into the thermal pool for a hydro massage – bliss.
Our room for the night is one of their junior suites and my hubby and I share an “oh wow” moment when we enter. The suite is bigger than our whole two-bed apartment in Sydney. (This is simultaneously pleasing and saddening).
The bedroom décor is stunning; rich fabrics and elegant furnishings. Oh and officially the largest bed I have ever seen! We have a separate lounge area to luxuriate in and drink champers; and, our marble bathroom is kitted out with classic yet modern fixtures.
Naturally our next stop after sharing a bottle of bubbles is the resident bar, a popular haunt of the hotel’s past illustrious guests. The Shelley Bar is very striking with a large grand piano, burgundy velvet armchairs and a beautiful fresco adorning the ceiling. It’s the perfect setting for enjoying a plate of olives and an Aperol aperitif before dinner in a local restaurant.
Italian’s aren’t big on breakfast, they’re more of a grab a cappuccino and pastry type of gang, so I never get too excited about hotel breakfasts in Italy. So it’s a happy surprise to discover a huge breakfast buffet spread at the Dei Lorena restaurant in the hotel. I go for fruit salad, yogurt and muesli washed down with freshly squeezed grapefruit juice and a cafe latte. As demands with global breakfast buffet etiquette, I return to the stand to collect some freshly baked, still oozing, pain au chocolate. I’m on holiday so I have two… Kate Middleton would have done the same right??
Budding princesses, aristocrats or culture vultures will relish Bagni di Pisa’s historical value and unique character. Let’s face it, Oz doesn’t provide too many opportunities for us mere mortals to enjoy a classical mansion fit for a queen. Staying in an 18th century palace, adorned with Tuscan terracotta, marble and frescoes, is a truly unique experience and one that I will certainly remember forever *sigh*.
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