When the hotel is a destination in its own right

Those who stay at Villa Lena, in the hills of Tuscany near Pisa, are not just seeking a hotel, but want an experience that combines culture, art and creativity

Villa Lena - Photo © Henrik Lundell
Villa Lena - Photo © Henrik Lundell

Founded by the art collector Lena Evstafieva and her musician husband Jérôme Hadey, with the help of friend and entrepreneur Lionel Bensemoun, Villa Lena gets a new lease on life thanks to the architectural design of the English firm Hesselbrand, as a place that is hard to categorize. Not a mere hotel, but a cultural and artistic project where entertainment, music, art, film, food and other fields find (and offer) energy and stimuli for international guests and artists who stay there. The main goal of the recovery of the two levels of Villa Lena, conducted by Hesselbrand (whose works have also been shown at the Venice Architecture Biennale and the Victoria & Albert Museum), was to create spaces that can improve social interaction among guests, offering flexible zones for countless needs.

In a perfect balance of antique and contemporary, the villa composed of former storehouses, stables and haylofts has been renovated with a large entrance and a double staircase to create a setting for events and ceremonies. Various types of rooms are available (Fattoria, Renacchi, Stentino, Santa Maria) with oak floors and wood paneling, made by local artisans. The bathrooms with sliding doors are finished in local Carrara marble, which goes nicely with the stainless steel washbasins.

The French designer Clarisse Demory has worked on the furnishings of the rooms, opting for local materials, rural Tuscan antiques, and salvaged fabrics painted by hand.

Each apartment features works of art from the permanent collection of Fondazione Villa Lena. The new layout created by the English studio permits hosting of a wide range of events, from weddings to conferences, thanks to the central hall for up to 70 guests. The facility also contains a library, relaxation and meditation pavilions, spaces for yoga and a wine cellar.

The Fattoria (with rooms from 25 to 34 m2) has been recently renovated, and uses solar panels, like the rest of the hotel, while the whole villa has improved water collection systems, for a sustainable approach to this precious resource. Starting this year, the vegetable garden of 2000 m2, recently enlarged, uses completely sustainable irrigation systems. Another feature of Villa Lena is a honeymoon suite, known as the Casetta dell’Amore, an isolated and semi-independent unit at the back of the Fattoria, with a living room ideal for romantic dinners or spending time with friends, a large bathtub and a private garden for outdoor relaxation.

Photo © Henrik Lundell