This was our first Sicilian and Catania trip. Arriving via train from Taormina, we took a short 5-7 min taxi ride to the front of the Hotel Royal. Having reserved its Royal or Norma suite, I was very happy with its 60-65sqm of spaciousness - a sitting hall with table and two arm chairs, dinning table with 4 chairs. Then separated by doors, is the 4 pillar poster bed on a raised platform and a sofa bed facing the street.
The suite's bathroom was quite big and comes with a high tech Jacuzzi shower in its centre - large enough for two to enjoy a fun filled shower together! There were two sinks in there, one was skillfully crafted into a Neo-Classical console and mirror - really nice as I have not yet seen something like this. The bathroom was facing the courtyard while the suite has two front balconies facing a busy road - noisy during the day.
Though the suite was not spankling new, it was rather well maintained. Of course, drawers in the walk-in closet behind the poster bed could have been better cleaned. Not a problem for a us staying only one night but for those who are staying longer, enjoy lots of closet and storage space! And what attracts me most to this suite was, of course, the ceiling frescoes above the poster bed - great for some admiring before sleeping.
The hotel though not huge, has a boutique feel about it. Staff were all friendly and nice, speaks good English, too. We were told before hand to pay an extra 20 euros for extended check out till 4pm, but when we left at 3pm, the kind lady said it was fine, they are not levying the extra charge on our room bill - really kind and professional indeed!
Location wise, you are 2-3 minutes to Via Etnea, the main shopping street and 5-7 minutes to Piazza Duomo. No fault of the Hotel's but people with mobility issues might want to know that there is 200-300 m of slight slope leading up to the Hotel's entrance. So at the end of the sightseeing day, it may prove a little daunting walking back to the Hotel, just a little, not too bad.
OK, here are the negatives of the Hotel - we only found a CNN channel, no Sky TV here; cannot control suite's temperature and must call down to Reception; bed is harder than I like; no slippers and tissue paper here; no body lotion; shampoo and bath gel must be pumped from huge containers; suite was noisy during the day with no double paned windows. And being a 200-300 year old building, the lights behind the huge projection Sony TV and chandelier goes off once every 10 minutes or so ... felt quite eerie at first but soon got used to it.
Overall, we had a good nights sleep here as when night falls, all was quiet and peaceful - which matters most especially to jet-lagged travellers like us. The breakfasts next day, served at the same level as the Norma suite, was a nice and simple affair with many choices to choose from. Enjoy great views of the surrounding area's roof tops.
A piece of warning for train travellers in Sicily - we had wanted to travel to Palermo from Taormina but it seems the journey takes some 5-6 hours via Messina. But every Friday, there is a scheduled train that departs at 3.45pm from Catania to Palermo, taking only 2hrs 45 min. We thought that it was time saving but it was not meant to be and we had one of the most nightmarish train experiences in Italy during our countless trips.
Our already arrived train at 3pm was delayed till 4.15pm, with the captain finally telling us that his train is not going to Palermo. We would have to take another two more trains in order to reach Palermo. Thus, instead of arriving in Palermo at 6.30pm, we arrived 2 hours later ... tired and frustrated with Trenitalia!!!
Finally, we were told by locals that the more reliable choice would be taking a direct bus from Catania to Palermo, taking about 3 hours only. Learn from our mistakes, dear travellers. A word about Catania - never missed it, especially its lively Fish Market - most memorable of our Sicilian trip!
Take the Norma suite if you are 3-4 persons travelling together, great value, too.
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC