24-Hour Room Service: T Hotel, Cagliari

When the futuristic building that is now the T Hotel first appeared on the Cagliari skyline in the Seventies, it was more derided than admired: especially when the telecoms company who commissioned it pulled the plug on its completion.

No one could decide what to do with it, and the unfinished 15-storey steel and glass round tower - sneeringly known as il mattitone (the pencil) - was in danger of becoming an embarrassing, permanent folly. Then a local construction company took the gamble of turning it into the city's first designer hotel - in a no-nonsense part of Italy where substance is more important than style.

World-renowned architect Marco Piva was summoned from Milan, and, like many northern Italians, drew inspiration from the colours of the south. These are reflected in the hotel's dramatic interiors, in bold shades of red, orange, green and blue that would look out of place in the north. The colour combination is repeated in the bedrooms, without detracting from the overall sense of space and light.

The owner's wife, with no experience of the business, project-managed the two-year transformation, and the gamble appears to be paying off. Piva's 207-room confection opened in October 2005, and is now a source of great civic pride.

The T's clientele is a mix of business travellers, tourists, and local people taking advantage of its ultra-modern, circular bar and minimalist bistro, or popping in to view the frequent art and fashion exhibitions in the central lobby. The bistro is a particular delight. In winter, its giant windows look on to a garden and ornamental pools. In summer, the windows slide back to transform it into an al fresco space, with the tables and chairs arranged on "islands" between the pools and water features, which are stunningly illuminated at night.

The bistro, where the cuisine is as stylish and minimalist as the décor, has become one of the city centre's most popular meeting places, especially for Sunday lunch. Another attractive amenity - newly opened - is the hotel's beauty and fitness centre, which has an indoor pool.

LOCATION

T Hotel, Via dei Giudicati, Cagliari (00 39 070 474 001; www.thotel.it).

Time to international airport: Cagliari airport is 10km/20 minutes away; taxis cost about €20 (£14).

COMFORTABLE?

The colours of the walls, bedding and bold-striped carpets pick up the warm, Mediterranean mood that defines the whole establishment (although 20 of the rooms have no carpets, to cater for people with dust allergies). The contrast comes in the simple, white bed-linen and pillows. You can choose between a room with a bath or a walk-in shower. All the rooms are soundproofed and air-conditioned, and those in the tower, being segments of a circular edifice, have a pleasing curve to their walls, windows and shelving.

The upper floors of the "pencil" are among the highest vantage points in the hilly city, affording wonderful views of the medieval walls, modern port, and the sea and mountains in the distance.

Freebies: a generous selection of own-brand toiletries, packaged in the hotel's trademark colours of red, orange, green and blue.

Keeping in touch: satellite TV, direct-dial telephones and broadband internet in all rooms. Free access to Wi-Fi if you have your own laptop, two computer terminals on the ground floor if you don't.

THE BOTTOM LINE

During summer, when demand from business travellers drops off, double rooms start at €99 (£70), including continental breakfast.

I'm not paying that: Bed and breakfast for two is €75 (£54) at the functional and comfortable Hotel Italia (via Sardegna 31; 00 39 070 660 410; www.hotelitaliacagliari.com) in Cagliari's bustling Marina district.

Frank Partridge

ITALY: GETTING THERE

Two contradictory trends have applied to UK-Italy flights over the past decade. The "legacy" airlines, Alitalia and British Airways, have drastically pruned their network of flights; both now serve only Milan and Rome from Heathrow, though BA has a scattering of other destinations from Gatwick. BMI serves only Naples and Venice from Heathrow.

At the same time, low-cost airlines have launched dozens of new services from airports across the UK. The result: much of Italy is far more accessible at far lower prices in the summer of 2007. It will be the best yet in terms of air links to Italy - and intense competition should mean that average fares are lower than ever, too.

The low-cost links to the main cities include Rome Fiumicino, served by Jet2 from Manchester and Leeds/Bradford, and by Bmibaby from Birmingham. The capital's main no-frills airport is Ciampino, with links from Stansted, Luton, Nottingham, Liverpool and Prestwick, and on easyJet from Gatwick, Nottingham, Bristol, Newcastle and Belfast.

Venice's Marco Polo airport sees easyJet arrive from Nottingham, Bristol and Gatwick; Jet2 flies from Leeds/Bradford and Manchester; and Thomsonfly competes from Manchester and Gatwick. Ryanair flies from Stansted and Liverpool to Treviso, with a connecting bus to Venice.

To Milan's Orio al Serio airport, Jet2 has services from Edinburgh, Leeds Bradford, Manchester and Belfast, while Ryanair arrives from Stansted, Luton, Nottingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and Prestwick.

From Stansted, Ryanair also serves Lamezia, Brindisi, Pescara, Perugia, Ancona, Rimini, Bologna, Trieste, Brescia, Genoa, Turin, Parma, Palermo and Alghero - making it by far the leading airline between the UK and Italy, even though it is Irish.

The real battleground this summer, though, will be Pisa. The gateway to Tuscany is served by Ryanair from Stansted, Bournemouth, Nottingham, Doncaster Sheffield, Liverpool and Prestwick. Jet2 flies in from Edinburgh, Leeds/Bradford, Newcastle, Manchester and Belfast, while Thomsonfly has links from Glasgow, Doncaster Sheffield, Manchester, Coventry, Bournemouth and Gatwick. Indeed, the competition at Gatwick looks murderous, with easyJet launching a new route for the summer in what is seen as an attack on BA's existing service.

By rail, options are even wider - in the sense that you can choose to travel via Genoa, Turin or Milan (the main gateways) to anywhere in Italy - but fares are likely to be much higher. The fastest route is via Paris and the high-speed international service to Milan, a journey of just 11 hours. And from Milan, you can continue to Florence, Venice Rome and Naples using a variety of premium services of varying speeds.

Simon Calder

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
Mosul dam was retaken with the help of the US
voicesRobert Fisk: Barack Obama is following the jihadists’ script
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Loaded weapon: drugs have surprise side effects for Scarlett Johansson in Luc Besson’s ‘Lucy’
filmReview: Lucy, Luc Besson's complex thriller
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie T plays live in 2007 before going on hiatus from 2010
arts + entsSinger-songwriter will perform on the Festival Republic Stage
Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
News
peoplePamela Anderson rejects ice bucket challenge because of ALS experiments on animals
Arts and Entertainment
tvExecutive says content is not 'without any purpose'
News
A cleaner prepares the red carpet for the opening night during the 59th International Cannes Film Festival May 17, 2006 in Cannes, France.
newsPowerful vacuum cleaners to be banned under EU regulations
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Sport
sportLeague Managers' Association had described Malky Mackay texts as 'friendly banter'
Arts and Entertainment
tvSpielberg involved in bringing his 2002 film to the small screen
News
peopleCareer spanned 70 years, including work with Holocaust survivors
News
people
Travel
Flocking round: Beyoncé, Madame Tussauds' latest waxwork, looking fierce in the park
travelIn a digital age when we have more access than ever to the stars, why are waxworks still pulling in crowds?
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Oracle 11g SQL 2008 DBA (Unix, Oracle RAC, Mirroring, Replicati

    £6000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: Oracle 11...

    Recruitment Consultant (Graduate Trainee), Finchley Central

    £17K OTE £30K: Charter Selection: Highly successful and innovative specialist...

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    Day In a Page

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    Air strikes? Talk of God? Obama is following the jihadists’ script

    The President came the nearest he has come yet to rivalling George W Bush’s gormless reaction to 9/11 , says Robert Fisk
    Ebola outbreak: Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on the virus

    Billy Graham’s son declares righteous war on Ebola

    A Christian charity’s efforts to save missionaries trapped in Africa by the crisis have been justifiably praised. But doubts remain about its evangelical motives
    Jeremy Clarkson 'does not see a problem' with his racist language on Top Gear, says BBC

    Not even Jeremy Clarkson is bigger than the BBC, says TV boss

    Corporation’s head of television confirms ‘Top Gear’ host was warned about racist language
    Nick Clegg the movie: Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise

    Nick Clegg the movie

    Channel 4 to air Coalition drama showing Lib Dem leader's rise
    Philip Larkin: Misogynist, racist, miserable? Or caring, playful man who lived for others?

    Philip Larkin: What will survive of him?

    Larkin's reputation has taken a knocking. But a new book by James Booth argues that the poet was affectionate, witty, entertaining and kind, as hitherto unseen letters, sketches and 'selfies' reveal
    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?

    Waxing lyrical

    Madame Tussauds has shown off its Beyoncé waxwork in Regent's Park - but why is the tourist attraction still pulling in the crowds?
    Texas forensic astronomer finally pinpoints the exact birth of impressionism

    Revealed (to the minute)

    The precise time when impressionism was born
    From slow-roasted to sugar-cured: how to make the most of the British tomato season

    Make the most of British tomatoes

    The British crop is at its tastiest and most abundant. Sudi Pigott shares her favourite recipes
    10 best men's skincare products

    Face it: 10 best men's skincare products

    Oscar Quine cleanses, tones and moisturises to find skin-savers blokes will be proud to display on the bathroom shelf
    Malky Mackay allegations: Malky Mackay, Iain Moody and another grim day for English football

    Mackay, Moody and another grim day for English football

    The latest shocking claims do nothing to dispel the image that some in the game on these shores exist in a time warp, laments Sam Wallace
    La Liga analysis: Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Will Barcelona's hopes go out of the window?

    Pete Jenson starts his preview of the Spanish season, which begins on Saturday, by explaining how Fifa’s transfer ban will affect the Catalans
    Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

    Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
    Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

    Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

    Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
    Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

    Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
    Britain's ugliest buildings: Which monstrosities should be nominated for the Dead Prize?

    Blight club: Britain's ugliest buildings

    Following the architect Cameron Sinclair's introduction of the Dead Prize, an award for ugly buildings, John Rentoul reflects on some of the biggest blots on the UK landscape