Having difficulties finding an affordable room at the Il Casato Residence D’Epoca Hotel Siena for 31 December turned out to be quite lucky. I admit, making the decision to spend New Year in Siena only during Christmas was maybe also a bit presumptuous.
Location & Getting There
After some searching, I found the Il Casato Residence D’Epoca Hotel Siena on booking.com for only €55 for one night including breakfast. Now, that’s a lot more than what I usually pay, but only a fraction of the €150 (plus €8 for breakfast) Il Casato charges for the room in high season.
The hotel is located on three floors of a typical 15th century Sienese building: the walls are thick, the staircase narrow, the ceilings vaulted and decorated with ornate paintings. And after having spent the past two nights in the B&B Villa Zara outside the old town, I enjoyed the luxury of being only a few hundred meters from both the Duomo and the Piazza del Campo and made ample use of it around midnight to see how Italians celebrate the year…
But Siena is still on a bunch of hills, so getting to Il Casato from the train station is just as annoying as it was to get to the Villa Zara. Best to check bus connections: the stop nearest to Il Casato is Via Mattioli/San Agostino; alternatively there is Piazza Mercato (in the back of Piazza del Campo), but be warned: from there you have to go uphill to the hotel.
The hills of Siena work to the advantage of the hotel: you enter in Via Giovanni Dupré (where the main reception is), climb three floors to your room and leave through the back door right onto Casato di Sopra. Anyone staying on the upper floors gets their set of keys for the Casato di Sopra entrance.
Though I was quite smitten with the building, the architecture, the small patio/garden,… my room was nothing special and certainly not worth the regular €150 price tag. It had about 15m² and a bathroom with shower. However, it looked out onto a tiny atrium and seeing the sky was not an easy feat.
Cleanliness is one of the easiest ways for any accommodation to gain or lose points in my book. It is not expensive to achieve since all it needs is motivated staff. Here is where Il Casato lacked: there were dust and a white powdery substance in the corners of the room and yellow-brownish residue plus short black hair in the bathroom/shower.
Only the wonderfully cheerful and helpful staff and the fact that they let me check in at 10:45 in the morning (!) made me overlook the cleanliness issues while I was there…
WiFi worked OK, a little less stable in the room. But that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the thickness of the walls throughout.
Eating & Drinking
I thought it was quite cute that they served breakfast in the room on 1 January, even though the breakfast was the usual sweet, mini Italian fare: coffee, juice, a croissant, one plastic wrapped pack of biscuits, a yogurt, butter/Nutella/jam. I should hope the buffet would be more generous for any guest paying the quoted €8.
Throughout the old town of Siena you find an endless selection of osterie, restaurants, pasticcherie and various snack places, serving anything from pizza to pasta to kebab to sushi and Chinese food on all budget levels: I had a slice of pizza on the hand just off Piazza del Campo for €1.40, and I enjoyed pici (the local pasta) with duck sauce, a beer, ricciarelli biscuits and a coffee for a grand total of €14 in an osteria on Via San Pietro.
If you prefer to cook, there is a guest kitchen in Il Casato. Ask at the reception for the conditions to use it (it was locked while I was there). The nearest supermarkets are on Via San Pietro, just a few steps from the cathedral, and on Piazza del Campo.