A Hotel Story: Eremito, Suitcase
The combined assault of the thunder rumbling overhead and the Gregorian chants drifting from within makes crossing Eremito’s threshold every bit as dramatic as I’d hoped. It’s taken me one plane, several trains and an off-road jeep to arrive at this hotel deep in the Umbrian hills, drawn by the promise of 3,000 hectares of wilderness, time to myself, long moments of silence and a true digital detox – as well as the intriguing paradox of a “luxury monastic retreat”. My pilgrimage to get here may have ended, but I sense that my journey has only just begun.
Despite having the appearance of an ancient monastery, Eremito is only five years old. The hotel took four years to build using 130,000 stones and relying entirely on ancient Italian masonry techniques combined with state-of-the-art solar and geothermal heating systems. Contemplating the extent of this commitment is part of the appeal – it’s the antithesis of logic and the fruition of the owner’s slightly mad vision.
Light years away from the monotonous luxury of other Instagram-ready hotels, Eremito is a pleasant assault on the senses containing pockets of a Moroccan riad, an Umbrian family home and a 14th-century Franciscan monastery. Repurposed glass, wood, brass and fabrics add slices of the unexpected to its otherwise minimal design. Its narrow, candle-lit corridors, textured walls and weathered stone floors can feel a little foreboding, yet the living room is as homely as can be and is filled with sprawling cushions, antique curiosities and sunflowers.
Eremito’s lovable boxer dog, Pepo, leaps up to welcome me as I’m ushered to my celluzze, one of 12 rooms based on Franciscan monks’ cells. We pass the plunge pool, reading cave, Giardini di Silencio (Silent Garden) and a small family chapel before reaching a perfectly formed room at the end of a long, quiet corridor. It feels luxurious in its simplicity – there’s a wrought-iron bed with soft white linen, a marble sink with home-made soap and fresh, cool air seeps in from the forested valley below. Over the next 48 hours, waking up comes as readily as sleep.
In print November 2018. Read the piece here.