Hotel Virgilio

I love to get the inside track on favourite hotels directly from the locals. It doesn’t get more local than chatting to the editor of The Local, an English-language news site on all things Italy. My longtime friend, the inimitable Angela Giuffrida, shares exclusively with Holidays in Heels a review of Hotel Virgilio in Orvieto, Umbria 🙂


Hi Angela! <3

Orvieto is a charming hilltop town perched on a cliff of red volcanic rock in Umbria, Italy. The town is full of good two and three-star hotels, usually family-run businesses which have been nurtured over the years with tender care – Hotel Virgilio is one of them. The three-star boutique hotel is the only one in the medieval town located on Piazza del Duomo, offering stunning views of the 14th century Duomo di Orvieto, one of the most spectacular and important cathedrals in Italy.

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Steps away from the beautiful cathedral


The hotel’s terrace is the perfect place from which to marvel at the sunset views of the cathedral over an aperitivo (aperitif): one of Italy’s most treasured pre-dinner rituals.

Sweet Suite

The decor is warm and fresh, while the rooms are airy and relaxing – the perfect place to get some rest after an evening of ambling through the town’s narrow cobbled streets and sampling traditional local dishes.

camera_vista_duomo 2

Room with a view!

camera_hotel_virgilio 2


Exploring Orvieto

Orvieto is an easy place to navigate and if you’re a history buff you’ll be blown away by some of the sights, including a subterranean network of medieval caves, tunnels and Etruscan wells. The town also draws artists, who can be seen with their easels capturing the magnificent architecture at a square, or countryside scenes over Umbria from a rooftop terrace.


Paintbrush, an easel and a rooftop terrace with a view

There’s an abundance of cosy restaurants and bars, as well as a good range of shops, selling everything from the works of artisans – whether that be food, jewellery or pottery – to designer clothes.

Orvieto is a good place to visit all-year-round but I stayed at Hotel Virgilio in early November – perfectly timed for the chocolate festival which was being held in the square opposite. Run by friendly staff, it’s a great hotel for either solo travellers, couples or small families – and the occasional celebrity. In 2014, it hosted actor Kevin Costner, who was in town for a couple of nights for a gig with his band!

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Kevin Costner hung out in this lobby!

What to pack

Orvieto is a hilltop town and the streets are cobbled, so make sure to bring comfortable shoes as you’ll be doing a fair bit of walking. You’ll need to dress relatively conservatively when visiting the churches. Italians are well-known for their effortless style, never seeming to look shabby even if in a pair of jeans and trainers. It’s much the same code in Orvieto – so pack clothes that fit well, but are comfortable. Italians also like to make an effort in the evening, even if they’ve only popped out for a walk, but not in an over-the-top sense. So pack some stylish outfits to fit whichever season you visit – here’s some inspiration!


Oh, Orvieto!


Mini dress
280 AED –

Antik Batik nude flat
1,010 AED –

ECCO brown leather purse
955 AED –

Ross-Simons gold hoop earrings
1,450 AED –

Fendi sunglasses
1,020 AED –

Black lace scarve
450 AED –
Guest Post by Rupert Wright of Ashbright
Paris holds no terrors for well-heeled travellers, who can check into one of the city’s eleven palaces such as ­ the Georges V, Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol or my favourite, Le Meurice. But for those on any kind of budget, finding a decent place to stay in the French capital can be a challenge. Bedrooms smaller than a bathroom, bathrooms smaller than a bidet, we’ve all stayed at one of them and lived to regret it. So, it’s with great pleasure that I have found almost the perfect Parisian hotel – and you don’t need to be a tech billionaire to afford it. The Bedford has been family owned and run for more than a hundred years, combining Swiss roots, French flair and English tradition. It benefits from strong leadership, attention to detail, and a staff eager to look after you. With just 140 rooms, it is large enough to intimate, but not so large that you are anonymous. It’s a 4 star, but deserves more.
The rooms
Parquet flooring; high ceilings; comfortable beds and pillows; keys rather than plastic cards; and best of all, real switches, that turn the lights on and off. The Bedford has sensibly ignored many of the technical traps that can make staying in a hotel room more challenging than setting up your own satellite transmission site. The result is a place that combines understated elegance with modern touches and old school service. Some rooms overlook the rue de l’Arcade, others look over a courtyard, but all are a decent size and a muted colour. There is air-conditioning too, which is a relief when the summer strikes.
Breakfast is a buffet in a glorious belle époque room, boasting stucco reliefs and a glass roof. Dinner happens here too, French cuisine and fairly formal. There’s also a relaxed bistro/bar that serves meals and cocktails.
A stone’s throw from the Place de la Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Opera, this is one of the best areas to stay in Paris. (Marcel Proust used to live just around the corner). It is a lively area, with great boutiques, wine bars and an eclectic mix of restaurants, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Lebanese and French too.
Don’t miss
The Bedford knows that many people like to travel with their pets, so they are allowed to stay too.
HOTEL BEDFORD, 17, RUE DE L’ARCADE 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 77 Fax : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 97 More information at
Rooms from €250; Suites from €450


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Sara Hamdan

Welcome to a magazine editor’s guide to luxury hotels and what to wear when you’re there! My work has appeared in: The International New York Times, Rolling Stone, Variety and CNN Travel. I’ve held editorial roles at VIVA Magazine, Dubai Magazine and Stylist Arabia.  Now, I freelance for the likes of Google, CNN and Savoir Flair!

Editing travel pages was always my favourite part of working for lifestyle magazines. I started this blog out of a love of beautiful hotels that provide the fairytale escape of a day as a princess where breakfast is a buffet and chocolates appear on my pillow.

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