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“In Love with La Bandita”
Review of La Bandita

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La Bandita
Ranked #10 of 33 Pienza B&B and Inns
Reviewed 5 April 2008

My boyfriend and I recently spent 4 nights at La Bandita, and I wish we could just move in forever.

La Bandita is lovely. Yes, it is a challenge to find the first time, but once discovered, you will never want to leave. The property is beautiful and the bedrooms divine (great and accurate pictures can be found on the website www.la-bandita.com).

The owners John and Ondine are amazing hosts and see to your every need. They (and the managers Francesca and Simone) know the region well and are full of suggestions for hidden gems to visit, plus detailed directions with which to find them.

Dinners at La Bandita are either a wine and grappa-filled dinner party with John, Ondine and other guests or a gourmet retreat set aside for two. There's also a swimming pool, which in summer months I expect will be lovely. I hope to go and experience it firsthand

  • Stayed: March 2008, travelled as a couple
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Thank Maria G
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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150 - 156 of 174 reviews

Reviewed 2 April 2008

“Turn right at the dirt road lined with cypress trees and begin the long ascent up the hill” read the directions. It had been a trip that began as a planned 10th anniversary celebration in 2001. But then there was September 11, 2001. Time and travel stopped for many of us then. Fast forward to our 15th year of wedded bliss (really, who ever coined that term?) and our dream trip to Italy was becoming a reality.

We had flown all night from Philadelphia to Rome and began a drive north with a few hours detour east to Perugia and then headed toward Pienza to our destination, La Bandita. As we crested the golden hill overlooking the Val D’Orcia against the backdrop of the cerulean sky, I pinched myself in delight. I was finally here, breathing in this spectacular, serene, sheer natural beauty of Tuscany, scenes I had only read about or seen in magazines or movies. As we approached La Bandita, an 18th century restored farmhouse we were greeted warmly by Ondine Cohane, who with her husband, John Voightman restored and opened La Bandita in Summer 2007.

She cheerfully escorted us through the farm house that was swathed in bright sunlight reflecting off of the crisp white walls, light wood floors, and white canvas furniture. The walls were lined with bulging bookshelves begging to be explored. In the middle of the common room sat a record player book ended by stacks of old record albums. I made a mental note to explore the bins of albums and rediscover the feel of vinyl and the gentle touch of a record needle that was part of my youth in the 1970’s. We passed a sleek open kitchen with gorgeous travertine countertops and a large community farm table with the requisite bowl of vibrantly colored fruit just ripe for the taking. Ondine opened the door to our room to reveal a bed in crisp white linens with a sheer white canopy sitting on a raised platform level with the large window opening to a view of the hills and valley. Behind the bed was a deep soaking tub which faced another window with a private view of the valley. Two thick white robes and thicker white towels were beckoning for wear as I planned to soak away the jet lag and relax into our arrival. Ondine offered us a bottle of wine and suggestions for dinner reservations that evening. She excused herself to practice yoga with another guest out by the infinity pool that looked as if it spilled down into the valley. I had found a place of absolute peace and serenity as I breathed in the crisp blue sky, yellow hills and simple beauty of this restored Farmhouse. This was perfect.

Once we were refreshed and napped, we entered into the main room of the house to meet John Voightman, the owner. He was equally warm and inviting as he welcomed us to their home. He then gently shared with us our mistake (to my massive embarrassment!). We were booked at the other La Bandita, an 18th century country estate three hours further east in Tuscany!

I had booked this trip online as part of a package. In my hurry to pack and get home and kids settled before we left for our flight, I realized we had no driving directions to La Bandita from the Rome airport. I quickly googled La Bandita, found directions, pressed print and we were off. What I failed to realize was that there were two La Bandita’s and we had arrived at the fabulous guest home of John Voightman and Ondine Cohane which was not where we had reservations. The two websites differed by a mere underscore in the address. Through my tears of embarrassment and disappointment (and some from sheer jet lag), John and Ondine insisted that we stay with them that night as their guests. The lateness of evening and the narrow mountain roads would be difficult to navigate in the dark especially as roads are poorly marked, hence directions like “turn right at the dirt road lined with Cypress trees”. We borrowed their cell phone to contact the other La Bandita to explain our mistake and ask that they hold our reservation for our arrival the next day. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at a local trattoria in Pienza owned by friends of John and Ondine and fell fast asleep in our heavenly bed that looked out upon the black sky alight with stars. In the morning, John helped us to map our way, giving us wonderful suggestions for our side trip to Sienna. Our trip to La Bandita, www.la_bandita.com, was much too brief, but we left with a promise to return for a much longer stay in hope to spend more time in the wonderful guest home of its owners who were so kind and welcoming. It was the best mistake I ever made. It was perfect.

  • Stayed: September 2007, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank kaapg
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2007

My opinion of La Bandita might be somewhat biased as they saved my bacon by being the only decent place in Italy with availability at two weeks notice for our honeymoon!!
But I was delighted with my choice.
The accommodation is excellent. The rooms are spacious, furnishings simple but luxurious. Bed very comfortable. Bathrooms excellent, with a massive shower. We had deluxe room 6, which had a stand-alone bath next to the bed. Bliss. Most places charge lots more for a superior room, here it's only 10% more. The views from this room are to die for.
The communal areas are also great. Massive kitchen, big eating area both indoors and outdoors, living area with satellite TV, DVD, and a huge library including many travel books. Hammam is a bonus too. Infinity pool cold but very nice, with plenty of chairs and loungers, and more stunning views over the valley.
We stayed for 5 nights, and had 3 dinners and 1 lunch there. David is an excellent chef, having previously worked in several quality establishments. Food top notch. Roast potatoes fantastic (but I reckon mine challenge yours, David!). Enjoyed 4 or 5 courses each time.
The first four nights there was only one other couple staying in the pig sty suite, so we had the main building to ourselves. The last night there were three other couples, but still a feeling of privacy.
A few other observations (comments, not criticisms):
- The drive is long and bumpy, but you need to get to isolation somehow! It was so quiet in our room I couldn't tell if the window was open or shut! The front drive is less bumpy, but a bit longer drive if you're coming from Pienza / Montalcino / Siena.
- Some nights it was quite windy, and our last night we had to eat indoors. It's quite high up, and can get cool at night, so definitely bring a warm top!
- A previous review said this is not a hotel. If you viewed La Bandita's web site, it would be obvious it is not a hotel in the traditional sense. The criticisms in this review are as much a reflection of the other guests, rather than the venue. Don't let one person's bad experience put you off.
- Free soft drinks. A first from my experience, and one some other hotels might follow.
- They were having a few problems with the wireless internet connection. Not surprising given its location.
La Bandita is a great base to explore the local area. John is an excellent host and makes some great recommendations. We will definitely be back.

  • Stayed: September 2007, travelled as a couple
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3  Thank Rob076
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 August 2007

If you are looking for utter peace and quiet with the option of great company and socialising if you fancy it; chic ambience and the best food in Tuscany; and some of the best views in Southern Europe, your search is over.

Owners John and Ondine and chef David will make you more welcome than you ever thought possible considering you are a "customer" and they are your "service providers". In fact those technicalities are meaningless at La Bandita. You will feel part of the gang while you are there - if you want to, otherwise you are entirely free to go and do your own thing - and will probably part company with new friends including the hosts and guests you may meet there.

And that's the worst thing about La Bandita - leaving a place and its laid back yet incredibly attentive hosts who make you feel completely at home in surroundings that most of us would retire to tomorrow given the chance.

Details: very cool living areas and bedrooms/bathrooms (you will not be disturbed if you want to sleep, and after a five-course meal agaionst the Tuscan sunset the night before, sleep comes easily!). An infinity pool with hot tub that looks across the hills into the sunset. An outdoor terrace for eating and swapping stories - also with fab views. As much water, coffee and soft drinks as you need all day. And of course local knowledge from the hosts, who can do everything from point you in the direction of the best local sightseeing or restaurants (dinner not served every night, but there is plenty of choice within 20 minutes drive) to offering you a wine tasting on site.

If you can find La Bandita (it's tucked away up a long dirt track in the hills near Pienza), you will have found one of those places that, really, you want to keep to yourself. That must be the best compliment to what the owners have achieved. Yes I will go back.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled solo
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1  Thank Foosfan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 27 August 2007

We had been looking forward to our stay at La Bandita ever since we first found the website in late 2006. It seemed to offer everything we wanted for a relaxing yet sophisticated family holiday - near all the great hill towns of the region but not the usual Tuscan agriturismo experience. We were not disappointed. The hotel has been restored beautifully to provide a modern clean environment with views that you need to see to believe. We were with our 11 year old daughter and had a wonderful stay - the pool is great and the food that is served a couple of times a week by the inhouse chef David was superb. The location is spot on for getting to the surrounding area and John and Ondine, the owners made some great recommendations for eating out - the know the area very well . They also have a dog there called Pepe who our daughter adored and certainly enhanced our stay.
Negatives? Well when they warn you about the bumpy track for the last couple of miles - believe them - use the easier of the 2 tracks every time. Oh and try not to ride from the hotel down the track on the mountain bikes that are there - it took me 3 days to recover!

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled with family
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2  Thank Harrogate0
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2007

La Bandita is the most exquisite place in the heart of Tuscany and it is the kind of hotel you cannot believe exists because it is truly a jewel in the midst of the most endless gorgeous land. There is privacy amidst a wonderful social atmosphere, as the hosts make you feel like a special guest, and seem genuinely enthusiastic about sharing their recommendations about everything from wine to restaurants to the quickest way to get from here to there. The rooms and the pool are breathtaking and the sophisticated ambiance is combined with a warmth that is remarkable. A must for any traveler who craves a chic and special small hotel.

  • Stayed: July 2007, travelled with family
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1  Thank DjunaNyc
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 26 August 2007

Having read about La Bandita in this month's Vanity Fare magazine (rave review), my husband and I booked ourselves in for 2 nights at La Bandita as part of our wedding anniversary celebration, and without our kids.
While the old barn/farmhouse has been beautifully restored with a modern twist, our experience was far from other reviews we had read both in the media and on Tripadvisor (it is no coincidence that one of the owners is a travel writer with Conde Nast- hence the rave media reviews, I suspect).
The owners are charming and very hospitable and helpful, offering lots of tips for local trips and restaurants etc. The problem lies with the accommodation... this is not a hotel but rather a nice 7 bedroom villa. The first sign of a possible problem was when we were shown to our room - right off the kitchen living-room. We could literally hear every drawer being opened, every step, every slight noise. While the place is minimally done up it doesn't help that there are no soft furnishings so every noise echoed hugely. As the only other guests were two families with very young children - who never moved outside of the kitchen living area the entire 48 hours we were there - we felt incredibly uncomfortable. Forced into our room as they commandeered the only living area, we felt like prisoners in our room . The room was nicely done up - great bathroom- but somewhat impractical - a double bed raised from the ground with a sunken bath behind the bedhead which meant a precarious trip to the bathroom during the night!
La Bandita is in the middle of nowhere - a very rocky drive every time you leave and come back- so we had hoped to dine in one night (as we had reserved), only to be told that the other 2 families with kids had priority. There is only one dining table in the kitchen so you had to eat all meals together. So no chance for a romantic dinner for 2 or even to have breakfast alone.
Awful. expensive. (600 euro for 2 nights - not a cent off even though the owner knew and acknowledged it had been a miserable experience)..don't go here expecting a hotel. He may rent it out next summer to a group which is what would make it work. A hotel? Absolutely not. Huge disappointment.

  • Stayed: August 2007, travelled as a couple
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26  Thank Aislingt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about La Bandita

Address: Localita Podere Lucia 14, 53026, Pienza, Italy
Region: Italy > Tuscany > Province of Siena > Pienza
Amenities:
Swimming Pool
Hotel Style:
Ranked #10 of 33 B&Bs / Inns in Pienza
Price Range: £280 - £286 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:3 star — La Bandita 3*
Number of rooms: 8
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Stylish 8-room country retreat in the beautiful Tuscany countryside. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
La Bandita Hotel Pienza
La Bandita Pienza, Tuscany, Italy

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