A French official of the Napoleonic times who accompanied the Emperor's sister, Elisa Baciocchi, to Lucca acquired Locanda l'Elisa, an 18thC villa, for his residence. Perhaps that accounts for the discernibly French style of the house that makes it unique among Tuscan hotels. A square building, three storeys high, painted in an arresting blue, with windows and cornices picked out in gleaming white, the villa stands just off the busy old Pisa-Lucca road.
The restorers have fortunately avoided the oppressive Empire style (which, in any case, the small rooms would not have borne) and aimed throughout at lightness and delicacy. The entrance is a symphony in wood, with geometrically patterned parquet flooring and panelled walls, and the illusion of space created with large mirrors. To the right is a small sitting room, furnished with fine antiques and Knole sofas. Around 19thC conservatory is now the romantic restaurant; the food is unpretentious and excellent, with an emphasis on fish. Each suite has been individually decorated using striped, floral and small-check patterns, canopied beds and yet more antiques no expense has been spared. A glorious mature garden insulates it from the main road.