The historic hilltop town of Montelparo has witnessed many things during her long lifetime; more than a few wars, an odd feuding baron or two the advent of electricity and of course, stunning views of the Marche landscape. But surely none perhaps more bewildering for the old girl than finding a young couple from England turning up one day as the proud new owners of a ruined palazzo at the top of the town, abandoned for over thirty years. Three years later and after much personal toil and sweat, the old palazzo was alive once again, transformed into the stunning eight bedroom luxury boutique hotel and restaurant that is Hotel Leone.
Owners Madeline and Tim Jones have created a masterpiece; a stunning hilltop boutique residence of genuine quality that has been crafted with love and care, shaking hands with regional architecture and at the same time offering a modern twist. It just works on so many levels for me. This is luxury boutique accommodation that ticks the box on stunning views from every corner, the imposing Sibillini mountain range on one side, the Adriatic coast of Ancona and Pesaro on the other.
But what about the hotel, how have Maddy and Tim spread the magic dust?
Each of the eight guest rooms is a work of art, an individual theme combining Italian antique furniture with state of the art technology. One room might have a private balcony another a Jacuzzi bath or a larger than life bed, but what they all have are large flat screen tv’s, walk in power showers, espresso machines (well this is Italy after all) and lots of space. The lounge area is a perfect place to sit and relax with the kind of deep comfortable couches that you just fall into with a good book and a relaxing glass of wine. The upstairs terrace and art deco bar is a large airy space to sit and soak up the sun or sip wine and cocktails on a balmy night.
Then there is the restaurant, the place where Tim casts his culinary magic, the result of a few years tutelage in 5 star hotels under the generous wing of one of Asia’s top chefs.
Yes, this chirpy chappie from Essex certainly knows his way around a kitchen, creating delicious pizzas from a wood fired oven and authentic regional dishes that have got the locals excited enough to be regular patrons. A mark of approval if ever there was one. Half board guests can discuss their own preferences with Tim who is only too happy to accommodate,
But some of his a la carte offerings include very tasty antipasti Vitello Tonato,: thinly sliced veal fillet with tuna, anchovies and mayonnaise at €9 or asparagus and duck salad, poached egg and rocket leaves with balsamic and honey mustard dressing €9.50. There is different a pasta dish each day at €8.50, but linguine with roasted pepper pesto is always a ready favourite. My own experience of a delicious main – braised lamb shank with rosemary, garlic and tomato served with a carrot and cannellini bean puree at €17.50 was very generous and melt in the mouth delicious.
Of course, in Italy, dolce – dessert, is mandatory, and Tim’s lime cheesecake and panna cotta with blueberries, both at €5 were flavoursome memories I shall savour for a long time to come.
Back outside, the pool area, purpose built into the side of the hill just below the hotel and surrounded by comfortable loungers, is the place to long for after a hard day spent exploring Marche’s many hills and valleys.
Hotel Leone is a labour of love from a couple who are refreshingly honest and hard working about their craft. They genuinely want to provide a home from home experience and with Maddy’s front of house attention to detail and service, (not to mention her wine talents as a qualified sommelier) and Tim’s culinary expertise, they make a terrific partnership.
Le Marche, in Italy’s north east bordering Tuscany, Emilia Romagna, Umbria, Lazio and Abruzzo is a region tipped to be the new go to destination. A region up to now pretty much unknown outside of Italy, and the Jones’ will help you discover and explore it from an insider’s view; whether it be through their bespoke all inclusive guided walking weeks taking you on personal treks through Marche’s three national parks or just helping you explore some of Marche’s stunning cities like Ascoli and Fermo.
As for Montelparo well she might have to put on a slap of makeup and a new party dress as her new English couple have certainly given the old girl a whole new lease of life.
All images except lounge and bedroom (c) Andy Mossack
I want to stay at Hotel Leone in Montelparo, Le Marche. Where can I find out more?
Twin rooms €130 per night BB
Deluxe Double rooms €140 per night BB
Suite €170 per night BB
Two-room apartment (sleeps 4) €220 per night BB
Ryanair daily services to Ancona airport. Hotel Leone is 40 minutes away.
One week’s Meet and Greet airport parking at Stansted Airport with Airport Parking and Hotels (APH) costs from only £68.90. To book visit www.aph.com or call 01342 859536.