In my time, I’ve stayed in many places that have been converted into hotels, including lighthouses, prisons, lunatic asylums, but Hotel NH Torino Lingotto Congress is in a former Fiat car factory.
It was opened in 1923, employed more than 6000 workers and had a test track on the roof. They stopped making cars here in 1982 but the renowned architect Renzo Piano was brought in to turn it into a shopping a nd cinema complex with a 240 room hotel as part of the mix.
It’s not in the city centre but an easy ten minute Metro ride and the first thing that strikes you as you step out of the station is the immense bulk of the building, four storeys high and stretching as far as the eye can see. Upstairs is a huge shopping Mall but I enter the NH Torino Lingotto Congress on the ground floor. The lobby is pillars, high ceiling and potted palms and there’s a stylish Lancia parked at the side. The décor is tasteful Italian industrial chic – think leather and wood panels and reception is efficient.
They’ve upgraded me to a suite, with an open plan entrance hall, lounge and bedroom and its high ceilings emphasise the sense of space. Huge windows look out onto the gardens below and the furnishings hark back to the factory’s heyday. It’s bright and functional and, as well as a couple of TV’s, there’s that morning life saver, a Nespresso machine. You’ll need a few shots since the luxurious King size bed ensures you get an excellent night’s sleep. Another bonus is that the room is supremely quiet as the gardens keep the traffic at a distance.
Food is excellent in the hotel’s Torpedo restaurant with a good value set menu changing every day, featuring Italian country cooking. I start with a cooked and raw sausage mixture on a pumpkin cream base, topped with pieces of crunchy bread stick. My main course is a piece of cod, baked in milk, onions, anchovies and garlic on a buckwheat polenta base. They also have a decent selection of wines by the glass and I can’t resist a 2012 Barolo which doesn’t disappoint.
In the morning I explore the rest of the Lingotto building. The shopping mall is not particularly interesting but a lift to the roof gives me access to the Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli – a selection of art collected by the Agnelli family, the owners of Fiat. Entrance is free, if you’re in the hotel and the Scrigno displays 25 works ranging from the Venice of Canaletto and the Dresden of Bellotto to a group, of seven masterpieces by Matisse.
You also get access to the original car testing track on the roof which is also the hotel’s jogging circuit. Of course it also features in the famous 60’s film Italian Job – the three minis loop through the steeply banked turns, switching position to keep the police from overtaking with the skyline of the city as a backdrop. “Now as you go around, watch for that bloody exit,” Charlie Croker tells his driver. “We can’t go around here all night.” Those words echo in my ears as I wander round the deserted track on a misty grey morning, expecting to bump into Michael Caine at any moment.
Tell me more about Hotel NH Torino Lingotto Congress
Rooms at the Hotel NH Torino Lingotto Congress start from around 140€ pp per night including breakfast, during the week, but are lower at the weekend. The hotel is directly opposite the Lingotto Metro station.
EasyJet flies direct to Turin from Gatwick and Luton. Fares start at £29.99 one way.
Torino has information about the city.
Piemonte has information about the region.