On a tour through Piedmont, it is most in the spirit of the trip to stay in a hotel where the local industry pervades your visit – and on this count, the hidden treasure of the Albergo Cantine Ascheri does not disappoint. Located in the amusingly-named town of Bra, in Italy’s Barolo region, the hotel is quiet even in what might be considered high season by most (although in fact the area is busier during the autumn months), which at least virtually guarantees a good night’s sleep. The hotel is situated atop the Cantine Ascheri winery (of which we were lucky enough to receive an excellent tour), and across the courtyard from the Osteria Murivecchi, a restaurant serving high-quality local fare. A short walk away from the town of Bra itself, the hotel also comes with its own ample (free) parking.
The wine theme starts off directly in your room thanks to a gift of a bottle of wine from the Cantine Ascheri winery, with glasses and a corkscrew made available should you wish to start drinking right away (although you are of course welcome to take the bottle home with you as a souvenir). Apart from this, there are sadly no tea and coffee-making facilities in the room, which are easy enough to provide and greatly appreciated (although it’s easy enough to see that this wouldn’t fit in so well with the Dionysian feel of the place). The rough wooden finishes (such as on the chest of drawers where the wine bottle is placed) are accompanied by more modern touches, including an appropriately equipped bathroom (with power shower), comfortable bed, and generously-sized wardrobe. If you don’t feel like relaxing in your room, the plush reading room (with its generous selection of Italian and English reading materials) and the sunny terrace (both on the first floor) are also available.
Quite good by continental standards, offering a selection of locally-sourced cheeses and cold meats (including the Bra sausage…underwiring not included :p ), decent espresso, and a variety of delicious cakes. Quality did vary in some respects, with the juice and chocolate (yes, there was chocolate at breakfast…no, don’t ask me why) falling short of expectations. As there were few guests in the hotel, we suspected that some of the food had been left in situ for a while, as indicated by (for example) the stale bread; however, there was more than enough to make up for this in the way of other dishes on offer. Bizarrely, breakfast is served in a sometime conference room, as indicated by the screen and projector equipment. At other mealtimes, there is always the self-service bar outside the breakfast room, which functions using an honesty box-style system. The breakfast room itself is also sometimes used for dining at other times (perhaps during their high season) and, as mentioned, there is always the popular local restaurant across the way, which is managed by the same family and from where it is easy to charge meals to your room (we even had our dinner included in our package for the first night).
At €128 per night for two people, including a dinner for two (with a generous wine allowance), a winery tour, and breakfast on both mornings, suffice it to say that this oasis of calm, rooted in terroir, represents an absolute steal in terms of value. Would undoubtedly return.
Via Piumati, 25
12042 Bra (Cn)