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Reviewed 23 April 2009

What is going on with these reviews?!?! I stayed here with my mother in September 2008 and I have to say I was a bit wary given the reviews on this website. Some people will have had bad experiences, they happen, but not enough people give positive reviews and frankly I find some of the criticisms of this hotel to be absolutely absurd; the rest of the review should explain why.

As a lawyer working for an Investment Bank in London I have travelled for business and leisure throughout Europe and the US. I always prefer modern preferably 5* boutique hotels; you know what you are going to get; comfortable, ok food, clean, modern, good service and more often than not exorbitant prices. For me travelling to an authentic renovated Italian Tuscan Villa was a bit of a departure and I had my reservations, but my how wrong could I have been? I loved the charm of the 500/600+ year old buildings. What are you people on?! If you travel to a hotel which is almost older then America of course you are going to have creaky floor boards, low doors, and skeleton keys; it's part of the charm and it is what makes this place so special! They could have renovated by knocking down the interiors and making a fake pastiche of authentic Tuscan but they chose to be true to the origins of the building, of the area. It is truly marvellous and you really feel like you are a hundred miles away from the hum-drum of the city while you are surrounded by the most beautiful antiques and old reclaimed furniture but with all the modern luxuries and conveniences of a 21st century hotel. I would have been sorely disappointed to have walked into a room with laminate floors, veneered furniture, and bamboo plants; that is not what you get here. What you get here is a slice of the past and the people who renovated Il Falconiere have done it marvellously. This a real authentic but comfortable Italian rural luxury retreat. You know what it is like from its own description; if you want to criticise that then I recommend you go stay at a Hilton or Marriot or some other soulless chain. You won't get a private 15th Century Masonic Chapel there!!

Other than the beautiful Tuscan scenery and authentically renovated buildings the next thing well worth mentioning is the food. The restaurant has a Michelin Star and for good reason; the menu is varied from the traditional to modern Asian twists on Italian food (the sort that will earn you the coveted star) all made with fresh ingredients (mostly grown at the hotel or locally). I was bold in my choices and was not disappointed, my mother chose more traditional dishes and she too raved about them. The meat deserves special mention as it was not at all like the meat I typically expect of a Mediterranean country. Personally I find the meat in Southern Europe to be often tough and not lean; that was not the case at all at Il Falconiere and the meat was more like what I expect from Ireland or the UK; really tender lean meat and very tasty and perfectly cooked. We always drank the house wine (from Il Falconiere's own vineyard) and it did not disappoint. The white was refreshing and light, very Italian, but good Italian. The red was surprisingly deep and was quite mature; very fulfilling and an excellent accompaniment to the red meat. For owner produced wine this was very impressive and at a bargain price. I would recommend anyone staying at the hotel to go Half-Board; for Michelin food it is well worth it and a snip of the prices you would pay in London.

Service tends to be subjective and some people may find Italians to be a little bit abrupt then they would be used to (especially if they are used to service in the US); indeed European service, while honest, does not tend to be up to that of the US (but is definitely much less 'in-your face'). From the moment we arrived at Il Falconiere we were made to feel welcome and all the staff were absolutely charming. Of special note is Silvia. While we where there we experienced a family tragedy and had to return to Ireland urgently. Silvia went out of her way to help us in any way she could; dealing with insurance companies, handling translations, and sitting us down and chatting to us not as the hotel manager / owner but as a friend who really sympathised with what we were going through at that time. She made us feel like one of her family in a way only an Italian can in such a circumstance. She dealt with us with sensitivity and kindness; you can't ask more from a hotel now can you? A chain would not have been interested and we would have had a nightmare getting home. What's more they probably wouldn't have refunded the 1/2 board like Silvia did (the room was covered by our insurance). Like I said everyone's experience of service is personal but, from my experience, you really couldn't ask for more.

It may seem like I am gushing a bit but I have really never been so let down by trip advisor and the other reviewers on this site as I have been in the reviews for this hotel. It’s like we were staying at another hotel! We had such a fabulous stay I really can't speak highly enough of the place. It magical and would be perfect for a honeymoon or romantic get-away. My mother and I were so impressed we have organised a family reunion at the hotel Summer 2009. All my brothers and sisters, their spouses, my mothers sister and all my nieces and nephews will be there. I think that pretty much demonstrates how highly we rate this hotel.

I'm a convert. If you expect a chain book into a chain. If you want an experience this is the place for you.

PS there is a fantastic outlet mall 30mins drive away with all the designer names at prices that beat the big US outlet malls now that the Euro has lost some value. Ask Silvia and she'll give you directions. I spent a lot but saved a small fortune!

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank IrishRJ
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 November 2008

The beautiful village of Cortona is the only reason to visit this area.
The Relais & Chateaux Il Falconiere was a huge disappointment to
us. Torn screens, terraces unswept, and generally an aura of the
tired hotel. The food was delicious in their restaurant, but over kill for Italy. The beauty of this area is the simple Tuscan fare steeped in flavour and tradition. Admittedly, the grounds are lovely if slightly unkempt. We left a day early and had to pay for our expensive and not very exciting room. Too many vases with fake flowers!!
270

  • Stayed: October 2008, travelled with friends
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Thank 270
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 4 November 2008

We expected a first class property as we paid a very high daily rate. Instead we were very disappointed with a second rate facility. The views were indeed beautiful but could not make up for a very tired looking room. The couch was broken, the drains did not work, the shower was unusable (to small for adults), The room was large but the bathroom was tiny. Most disturbing was that there was no air conditioning in Oct. and it was very warm. There were no screens on the windows and large number of bugs entered the room which resulted in insect bites which were very uncomfortable. We had reservations for 5 days and they would not let us check out a day early without charging for the room. The facilities were so far below expectations that some people checked out despite the fact that they still had to pay for the room. The final insult was that the owner gave tours of his winery with some tasting, and we were told by the evening clerk that their was no charge, so we took the tour and the next morning there was a $60 charge on our bill for the tour.
A totally bad and expensive time was had.

Stayed: October 2008
4  Thank chicagoILLjan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 September 2008

We feel a strong attachment to Il Falconiere as it was the first hotel we stayed in on our first trip to Italy some 12 years ago.

At that time we found it to be bewitching and romantic and spent our 25th wedding anniversary there on a subsequent trip.
It has always felt slightly formal and restrained.

We returned this year and would like to make the following observations:
Cortona is not Chianti so don't expect the beautiful and famous scenery of that area.
This area has a charm of it's own and Il Falconiere is in a very good location for visiting the stunning Val D'Orcia for example and Umbria.

Rooms ain the original villa are enchanting but some are a little on the small side. They are in need of updating, particularly the bathrooms.
Some have beautiful cotto floors and reclaimed old wooden doors and feature antique furniture and gorgeous old fabrics and lace.
One has it's own private sitting our area and, on the top floor, the "pigeon loft" has wide views over the Val di Chiana.
This last one is furnished in a more modern style and you would need to be able to climb the last flight of stairs to reach it which are narrow and twisting. It is very private however.
Some have lovely views up to Cortona which is a haunting sight in the early morning mists.
One has a draped bed with triple aspect views and is probably my favourite. I believe all rooms in the villa only have showers rather than a bath.

Our junior suite was charming, very private but as it is an "original" it again needed updating. We asked to be moved because of the building works and had the one deluxe room on the original site next to the old chapel which we had stayed in previously.
Unfortunately though quiet and private and very close to the beautiful old villa this room had had more wear than the junior suite and the bathroom can only be described as in urgent need of renovation.
The room itself was in need of redecorating. It had not been touched since we had stayed in it 9 years previously.
These "original" rooms are now some 16 years old and need some attention to restore them to their former high standard.
I feel they have not had it because the former "podere" buildings have been made into guest accommodation. I was fortunate to view most of them and they are all delightful.
They feature delightful fabrics, beautiful modern bathrooms and are nice big rooms, some with good views.

We did not want to stay over in these buidlings though because to us Il Falconiere is about the villa and it's history not the former farm buidings.
We saw the wonderful, large kitchen used for Il Falconiere's cooking courses on the ground floor of one of the converted farm buildings.

The restaurant is too formal for us but we did have a very good meal there one evening. The vegetarian menu is exceptionally good and well thought out.

The swimming pool is a nice spot to sit and relax around but I believe the second one next to the podere gets little use although it is good of it's kind.
Breakfast is taken in the old Limonaia or out on the terrace and is not as good as it once was.
This, I believe is because the second breakfast room attached to the podere is not open so there are too many guests to help themselves from the original old round table that nearly fills the serving room.
Coffee is exceptionally good.
I took objection to the artificial flowers dotted around the public rooms and in our suite. They looked and felt terribly out of place.

The dining terrace with it's tinkling fountain in the old courtyard is as beautiful as ever. I recommend this as a first choice option should you be lucky enough with the weather.
There is also a very nice sitting room with books and a little tourist information.
Staff are willing to help but somehow it doesn't come naturally to most even to those who have worked there for 16 years.
Sometimes I think of it as a restaurant with rooms and maybe that's where it's niche is ?
Silvia is a high class cook first and foremost with a flair for interior design.

Room rates are a little too high for the quality of rooms in the original "Il Falconiere" and also for those in the converted podere as they do not have the atmosphere that is felt in around the villa. The tariffs are exactly the same for both buildings.
We felt Il Falconiere was still a beautiful and atmospheric place to stay and we hope it can become worthy of 5 dots again one day soon!

So there you have it, my honest opinion and experience of our trip to Il Falconiere earlier this month. I hope it's helpful.

  • Stayed: September 2008, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Contessa
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 September 2008

This beautiful, elegant winery is worth a stay. Expect to be paying a lot of money. We had a gorgeous beautifully decorated little villa. It was next to a quiet swimming pool. The breakfast was excellent. There are several great restaurants in Cortona. There are tours of the on the premise winery. This hotel is not for a traveller on a tight budget. The wine is extraordinary!

  • Stayed: September 2007, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank Radish4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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