Inside Umbria’s Newest Design-Forward Hotel

Vocabolo Moscatelli gives new life to a monastery in the countryside.

As my husband Marco and I drove up to Vocabolo Moscatelli, a new member of Design Hotels in the Umbrian countryside, I could immediately see its appeal. But my enthusiasm paled in comparison to that of Wendy, our American Staffordshire terrier, who leapt out of the car and pulled me toward the gardens as I struggled to hold her leash. We were welcomed by co-owner and general manager Frederik Kubierschky and Catharina Lütjens, the hotel’s resident manager. It was getting dark and starting to drizzle, so we headed inside and sipped a welcome drink as we checked in.



Formerly a 12th-century monastery in the little village of Umbertide, this 12-room hotel feels intimate, like staying in the home of very gracious hosts. Kubierschky and Lütjens, both originally from Germany, met in Zurich while working at the Park Hyatt. When the opportunity arose to create a new hotel in the abandoned monastery, the couple poured their heart and soul into it, bringing a sophisticated international perspective to a very traditional corner of Italy. “It was always our dream to one day run our own little boutique hotel,” Lütjens told me. “With the Vocabolo, we want to create something really intimate—a place where our guests become part of the community and can live it with us.”


They worked with Florence architect Jacopo Venerosi Pesciolini of Archiloop to restore the historic building while giving it a new life with modern design elements, like handmade four-poster beds, mirrors, outdoor restaurant furniture, and sun beds in sleek modern silhouettes by Lispi, now helmed by fourth-generation ironsmith Emanuele Lispi. They sought out local artisans such as Cotto Etrusco, which made colourful tiles for the bathrooms and place settings, and they hung works by local artists. But the detail that stood out was the painting above the reception desk, a replica of Boy With Apple from Wes Anderson’s film The Grand Budapest Hotel. Kubierschky had an Italian artist reproduce the painting as a nod to his experience as a concierge.


That evening, we sipped cocktails with Kubierschky, Lütjens, and two regulars who live nearby before heading up the street to Trattoria da Volpelli to enjoy Umbrian specialties like tagliatelle with black truffle. The next day, we headed to Perugia, about an hour away, leaving Wendy at Agriturismo Il Cucciolo, but not before she thoroughly explored Vocabolo Moscatelli’s grounds, which have a vegetable garden, an outdoor pool, a charming pergola, and a small chapel now used as an event space.

Dinner that evening was a tour de force of unexpected flavours at the hotel’s restaurant. Inspired by the cooking of Yotam Ottolenghi, it aims to offer something different from what you typically find in the region. The menu includes dishes like ramen with smoked duck and beef tataki with teriyaki sauce, though Umbrian truffles pop up in the chard gnudi with squash purée.


We bought a fresh black truffle and a cooking box from Tasting Truffles the next day at the holiday market Kubierschky and Lütjens had organized in the hotel’s garden. There were mulled wine and roasted chestnuts as well as vendors from Umbria and Tuscany selling honey, wine, leather bags, and other goods plus a friendly laid-back vibe. They intend to organize more community-focused events in the future to help their guests—and their four-legged companions—feel at home.

Images courtesy of Design Hotels.