My great-grandmother stayed at this hotel in 1962, so when my wife and I were planning our honeymoon we decided to end it with three nights at the Grand Timeo in Taormina. Though our original reason for going to the hotel was a sentimental connection, after spending three days there we will return again and again. It is, in a word, an extraordinary hotel.
There is no doubt that the prices for the room are extremely high - over 500 euro a night for our standard double room (we ended up being upgraded to a deluxe double). That said, you get what you pay for, and much more in fact. Our room was in the separate building, on the third floor in the corner and had a large balcony with a spectacular view of Mt. Etna and the bay of Taormina. The room was large and light and even though the bathroom would be considered small by US standards it was beautifully appointed and more than adequate. Everything from the linen sheets, to the Frette robes, to the 3 different types of toiletries was carefully thought out and of the highest quality. Both my wife and I have stayed in luxury properties around the world and even if the room wasn't the biggest we have stayed in the evident care with which it was designed and maintained made it by far the most comfortable. The location of the hotel is also impossible to beat - because it's one of the highest up the hill the views are unmatched and even though you are literally footsteps away from the Greek theater, it never once felt like we were in the midst of a tourist maelstrom. We also had a light lunch and dinner on the terrace in the main part of the hotel - again the sweeping views over the bay are impossible to put a price on. Orient Express owns not only the Timeo but also the Villa Sant Andrea - an old noble's villa now converted into a hotel down by the beach. This is a huge plus because being a guest at the Timeo you can use the beach and all the amenities of the Sant Andrea as if you were a guest there. The beach, like many in Italy, is made of pebbles but the water is crystal clear and the beach service is very good. Having both the mountains and the beach is a wonderful aspect of the Timeo I do not think is shared by the other 5-star properties in Taormina. We had dinner at the restaurant at the San Domenico hotel, one of the other super luxe properties and while its location is good I don't think it can compete with the Timeo. Also, I would add, the general feel of the hotel and the service, while very good was quite obviously a notch below the Timeo.
Included in I believe every room rate is breakfast which can be served either at the hotel buffet or in your room. Given our gorgeous balcony we opted to have it in the room all three days and it was simply sumptuous. The selection is huge, from cereals, fruit and brioche to eggs, steak and veal, to prosciutto, buffalo mozarella and Sicilian goat cheese. To be sure, given the price of the room one would expect a very high quality and generous breakfast, but this exceeded our expectations. Each day the waiters would set up our table on the balcony with care and the food was consistently delicious. We are huge foodies and were on the whole disappointed with much of the food we had in Sicily, but the Timeo really exceeded our lofty expectations at breakfast. Less impressive, I will note, was the food for lunch and dinner we had at the terrace restaurant. Given the superlative prices we were disappointed by the grilled shirmp, pasta, and minestrone we ordered. It wasn't bad, but was quite ordinary.
Finally, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that perhaps the most impressive thing about the hotel overall was the service. From the bell boys to the concierge to the very friendly guest services manager, everyone was beyond polite, warm, and extremely helpful. Everyone seemed to know our names, knew it was our honeymoon, and went out of their way to see our every need was satisfied. One small example. We had particularly liked a certain type of artisanal olive oil while in Sicily and wanted to find a place to buy it in Taormina. Manuela (I believe her name was) who had checked us in looked up the oil, then called around stores in Taormina, and reserved the final three bottles available at the one store that had it. Given that the Timeo holds itself out as a super luxury hotel and charges as much one might say this sort of service is to be expected, but nevertheless it was great to see it in action at every turn.
One small dissapointment is the Orient Express doesn't appear to have any type of loyalty program. Given our experience at the Timeo we are very tempted to try out other Orient Express properties and probably will in the future. If there was a loyalty program that provided some sort of benefits for frequent guests it would increase our incentive to do this.
In sum, if you can fit the Timeo into your budget - which is no small task - you won't be disappointed will leave feeling that your money was very well spent.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Set high in the rocky hills on the East coast of the island, with Mount Etna as a backdrop, Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo has always been one of the favourite destinations of both Hollywood’s and Europe’s most prominent stars; from Sofia Loren to Audrey Hepburn, from Marcello Mastroianni to Liz Taylor. Adjacent to the Greek Theatre, the hotel was first built in 1873 and is surrounded by a six-acre park and magnificent gardens where the panoramic pool is located. Widely considered to be the most luxurious hotel in Taormina, it boasts 70 splendid rooms and suites, each decorated in a fresh Sicilian style that blends modern innovation with local artisan traditions. This historical hotel is well known for its “Literary Terrace” which has always been a preferred meeting spot for illustrious guests thanks to its breathtaking panorama. Dining facilities include the Restaurant with an enchanting view of Mount Etna combined with typical Sicilian and Mediterranean cuisine. The Pool Restaurant offers brick-oven pizza, a salad buffet and freshly caught fish, it is the perfect place for a light lunch or a snack. The wellness centre offers signature treatments made from local flowers and fruit essences. A fitness centre and a panoramic swimming-pool are also available Guests can benefit of the complimentary shuttle to the private beach at sister property Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea, in Taormina Mare, boasting new exclusive cabanas, as well as the daily mini-cruise by private boat to explore the beauties of the coast (available during summer). The Smile Club with an English-speaking supervisor is available at sister property Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea to entertain the younger guests with lots of fun and exciting activities. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Nh Hotels Taormina
- Grand Hotel Taormina
- Grand Hotel Timeo
- Timeo Hotel Sicily
- Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo Taormina, Sicily