Cruising along the ribbon-like road that descends gently into Pienza is nothing short of driving therapy. With your worries left on the road, arriving at La Bandita Townhouse brings about a sense of calm that only a bolthole this tranquil can promise. The hotel itself sits atop a pedestrian only cobblestone road in the heart of the town. The facade lends no clue to what can be found inside and blends perfectly into the chalky-hued surroundings. Originally a nunnery, (a source for many quips we're sure, but we'll try to abstain) La Bandita really comes into it's own once you step over the threshold.
In the bright-white marble lobby you're greeted like an old friend. Early for check in? Head off to explore - the library is a masterclass in blending contemporary pizzaz with traditional fixtures and there's a well-stocked honesty bar for guests in need of refreshment. In juxtaposition to the architecturally crowded streets of Pienza, minimalism is of utmost importance here. Not a brick was added or taken away in its transformation from convent to twelve room retreat and the design closely follows a path last walked by La Bandita Countryhouse, the larger sister property in the rolling Tuscan hills.
Once you've checked in, take a minute to light the musky Ortiga candle, sink into the deliciously soft bed and gaze up at the whitewashed beams above. Just to remind you that you're in Italy, occasional sounds float up from the streets below; footsteps, conversation and soft laughter.
Take to The Townhouse Caffe to sample chef David Mangan's delicacies - be it pancetta-wrapped chicken or one of his sublime pasta dishes. Following La Bandita's opening, the restaurant fast became the talk of the town and (for non-residents) securing a table is no mean feat. Plump for a candlelit table in the courtyard or perch at the chefs table to indulge in some food-fuelled banter with the man himself.
Expect to leave relaxed, rejuvenated and hungry to book your next visit.
Best room: Top-floor suites look out over the Val d'Orcia.
Dress code: Laid-back luxe, unstructured pieces for the girls and loose linen for the guys.
111 Corso Rossellino, Pienza, Sienna, Tuscany, 53026
00 39 333 404 6704
Doubles from £170