Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita is a one-of-a-kind hotel built into the abandoned caves of Matera, a little-known village in Southern Italy that also happens to be a UNESCO World Heritage site. Built by Swedish-Italian entrepreneur, hotelier, and philanthropist, Daniele Kihlgren, the hotel features 18 rooms that meld traditional design using local materials with just a touch of contemporary finish. Go past the fold for plenty of stunning photos, along with details of how this truly unique property came into existence.
The caves, or sassi, as they are known locally, used to serve as shelter for farmers in the area, but have long since been abandoned. When Kihlgren found them, they were nothing but shadows of their former self, rubble strewn across the floor, and walls covered in pockmarks. His restoration efforts were extensive, but also focused on preserving the original spaces, while making use of traditional, local tools and construction materials.
With sensitivity in mind, the site was taken apart piece by piece, entirely wired and piped, and then reassembled, taking painstaking care to return each stone to its original location. Contemporary amenities were only added when they could be invisibly incorporated, or where absolutely necessary. The result is 18 rooms, each with their own unique characteristic that has evolved from the existing architectural frame that was put in place decades ago.
All of the rooms face out onto the dramatic backdrop of the Park of the Murgia and its gorgeous rock-hewn churches, which offers plenty to admire without every leaving the room. Rooms at the hotel start from $275 per night, but can vary depending on the day and how far in advance you book. Regardless of how you look at it, a night in the Sextantio Le Grotte Della Civita would make for a once-in-a-lifetime experience. [images courtesy: Design Hotels™, bookings available through www.designhotels.com]