Some hotels support a vacation; other hotels are the vacation. At the very bottom of the “heel of the boot” that defines the sunny Italian region of Puglia, Palazzo Daniele is the latter. This five-star establishment pairs minimal, modern design with the architectural majesty of a neoclassical palace built in 1861. There are only nine suites, wrapped around a central open-air courtyard—coupled with an outdoor pool and communal living spaces with vaulted ceilings and restored frescoes. It’s a quiet, colorful grandeur that invites guests into a simply extraordinary experience.
Palazzo Daniele rises in the village of Gagliano del Capo. Cliffside cocktails with sunset views in Santa Maria di Leuca and early morning swims among the crags beneath Ponte Ciolo are moments away. Day trips to Gallipoli or any number of historic seaside destinations are comfortably within reach. But when guests arrive to Palazzo Daniele, they may wonder why they’d ever leave at all. Designed in collaboration with Ludovica and Roberto Palomba, with art direction from Francesco Petrucci, the hotel tantalizes from the moment one passes through the private entryway.
Site-specific contemporary art installations work in tandem with the historic stone structure and its restored mosaics. Public spaces feature anachronistic surprises alongside thoughtful touches. Uncluttered, spacious bedrooms incorporate steel-framed wardrobes; bathrooms, often defined by unique shapes and features, include toiletries by Malin+Goetz. Contemporary amenities are ever-present.
“I was instantly enamored with Palazzo Daniele upon seeing it for the first time; the building and its history have that power to pull people in,” hotelier Gabriele Salini says of the property. It’s his second hotel, with Palazzo Daniele’s sibling G-Rough bringing life into a 17th century abode near Piazza Navona in Rome. “I was actually on the lookout for another project that would fit seamlessly into my GS Collection portfolio and I knew this would be my next venture,” he says. Both embody the ethos of “questa casa non è un albergo,” which translates to “this house is not a hotel.” They’re something more.
From preservation of the structure to design decisions that give it a contemporary edge, Palazzo Daniele required ample development to bring it to the warm, welcoming destination it is now. “Being such a historic place, as the noble palazzo of the Daniele family since 1861, the property exhibited a lot of stratification of its objects and pieces of furniture, without much flow,” Salini says. “In terms of the structural project—creating an indoor/outdoor continuity, which didn’t exist in Puglia’s 19th century architecture—our focus was returning the palazzo to its core essentials, where exposed walls bear the cracks of time and monastic beds take center stage, while augmenting the grandeur of the original ceiling frescoes and mosaic flooring.
Nestled within the architecture and design, Palazzo Daniele’s food and drink program includes a loyalty bar in a deconsecrated altar (open day and night), as well as an open-air kitchen wherein the friendly cooks and staff prepare something delectable during and in-between meals. Guests can pass through whenever they feel compelled. Though, for dinner reservations should be made in advance.
“Making our visitors feel at home in an authentic Italian setting has been my vision for the entire property,” Salini says. “Most Italian homes—including mine—serve simple food made up of the freshest ingredients; this is how we go about serving our extraordinary Italian cuisine to our guests.” The dishes delight, desserts incorporating fresh fruit especially, and the cocktail program lives up to international expectations. Perhaps unsurprisingly, private cooking lessons are available as an activity, too.
“Our open-air kitchen is adjacent to Palazzo Daniele’s lush gardens and allows for guests to walk in and out freely, seeing the way our chefs are preparing their food,” Salini adds. Beyond the kitchen, the warm pool stretches out under the sun. Hammocks swing from trees in the orangery nearby. A rear rotunda, referred to as the Kaffeehaus, welcomes those looking for a covered outdoor space. Guests find nooks both outside and in. In fact, even when fully occupied, the hotel feels like it’s entirely your own.
“Palazzo Daniele and G-Rough are representative of how limits can be turned into possibilities,” Salini says. “Both projects align in their overall origin stories and previous functions as two private palazzos. However, each respective space has its own story to tell—in a sense, its own soul.” He adds that GS Collection is “an Italian hospitality concept that takes place in private palazzos and houses with a familiar story to tell, strong personality behind it and true connection with the local neighborhood. My vision for the future of my collection is to take on unique projects emblematic of this, and transform them into design-forward properties meant for connection, exploration and relaxation.”
Palazzo Daniele certainly offers all of this. Even in the instance of rain on our stay, the staff prepared the stunning interior spaces to accommodate the lack of outdoor availability. The beauty never diminished, only new attributes were brought into focus. And, of course, when the rain subsided, the palace acted as a gateway to the region’s numerous splendors—though, as we mentioned, even when we were out exploring, our mind often wound its way back to the alluring property.
Hero image by Renee Kemps