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“Palace in unforgettable setting”

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San Domenico Palace Hotel
Ranked #13 of 87 Hotels in Taormina
Certificate of Excellence
Reviewed 3 April 2011

Uniquely situated in the center, though in the most silent corner of Taormina, this old Palace Hotel in an old monastery has so much to offer even when the weather is not so good. Although expensive the restaurant is extraordinary good, service is on the highest level. The superior rooms are big with good beds and everything you can wish yourself.

Room Tip: Go for superior with view on the sea...
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  • Stayed: March 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank tripperBelgium
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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715 - 721 of 1,353 reviews

Reviewed 17 January 2011

Our family of four arrived late Christmas Eve for a 4 day stay. We had two rooms. We had booked minimum rate rooms and were told at check-in that we had been upgraded. We were lodged in the third floor of the new wing (build in approximately 1890). The hotel is a historic property. The original monestery is about 500 years old. The property has been maintained, but as with any authentic building of this age, you will notice the normal aging process. Yes, the door to our balcony did have some peeling paint. This is normal in Italy for a building of this age. The property has been allowed to age gracefully.

We read many negative reviews prior to our arrival. After staying there I understood that some people did not realize what the property is all about. This is not Disney. The building is authentic and does show its age. Public spaces are huge. The monestery gardens are still intact and are beautiful. The hotel is in the center of of a 700 year old town. A road runs around along the outer edge of the property. If you are standing by the pool, you will hear cars and the sounds of the town around you. This is considered "normal" in Italy. LIfe goes on all around you while you enjoy yourself.

Staying in the hotel reminded me of what I expect it would feel to stay in a "grand european private estate". Many properties were originally castles or fortresses that were converted along the way to personal residences (for very priviledged individuals). The hotel was layed out over three floors and it took us almost 10 minutes to walk from the lobby to our rooms. The furniture was antique. It fit the character of the property. The bathrooms were spacious with quality fixtures that had seen some use. They were in proper repair and we had excellent water pressure and plenty of hot water. The room was serviced twice a day. We had no complaints.

Breakfast was typically Italian with many Sicilian specialities. Our family is originally from Sicily and we enjoyed trying foods that are specialites of the island. You will not be served a typical breakfast that that you would get at a Marriott or Hyatt hotel in the United States. We enjoyed the differences and tried to sample everything.

The staff tried hard to please. At times we noticed that they were confused by our English. It is always better to communicate face to face rather than over the telephone. Repeating slowly and carefully gets the job done. Alitalia lost one of our suitcases. The reception desk staff called twice a day on our behalf and finally had our bag located three days after we arrived. Every request was answered with a smile.

The hotel is one of a kind property. It is serene, dignified and authentic. We loved it. We did not eat dinner at the hotel. The town has some wonderful restaurants. We tried to sample some and were very pleased.

  • Stayed: December 2010, travelled with family
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1  Thank 1stgradeteacher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 16 January 2011

San Domenico Palace brings history, luxury, elegance and simplicity together. My husband and I stayed there for two nights after celebrating our wedding reception at this hotel. We stayed in a Junior Suite which really made our experience memorable. The high ceilings along with the tall windows which open up to the Mediterranean and the Greek Theater allow for breath taking views. The sheets are linen, which we really enjoyed and the Aqua di Parma soaps are a nice touch. We also enjoyed the breakfast, which has many options including meats, diaries, sweets, and cereals.

The hotel is an excellent option for wedding receptions. We had our dinner in one room and then transfered our guests for a dessert and dance party to the Sala di Cheisa and it was perfect! Candles were lit along the hallways creating a romantic and historic feel with the hotel's old walls.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank carnaj2011
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 January 2011

We booked a two part trip for our honeymoon. The first part was at the Santa Caterina in Amalfi, a wonderful, gracious hotel. The second part, unfortunately, was at the San Domenico.

THE GREETING
From the start things were not as they should have been. Our driver tried to drop us at the hotel but there was no bell hop of any kind to greet us. There is a gated "garden" so the driver could not take us directly to the front door. Instead he used the courtesy phone to summon a bell hop. We waited 10 minutes. Finally someone came to get our bags.

To give you a sense of hospitality, there is dispenser of iced water to greet you but there is an unfriendly sign that says, "Welcome drink for new arrivals only." We did not find that very welcoming the rest of the time we walked through the lobby.

No one works the door in this hotel. It seems like a small thing but it speaks to the hospitality and warmth that this hotel lacked. No one greeted you when you came or went.

THE ROOM
We paid 500 Euros a night for a sea view room. The view was incredible but the room was tiny. On top of that, there was this one chair that was either in the way of the closet or the television, or the bed, take your pick. There was nowhere to put the chair that wasn't in the way. I can't tell you how many times we stubbed our toes on the bed.

The sheets are horrible. They are probably expensive linen sheets. I prefer soft cotton sheets that don't scratch your face.

The hotel is cool to walk through. Practically a museum, and a showroom for contemporary Italian luxury products. The view was amazing and the concierge would do whatever you asked for. The front desk is very nice but ultimately this place costs way too much for the stingy way they behave.

STINGY
Our five night stay came with a free dinner. That was arranged by our travel agent. The hotel denied knowledge of this but I showed them my paperwork. After an extensive back and forth and negotiations we were told we could have our dinner but that we would not get coffee, water, or a bottle of wine. I pointed out that those exact things were promised in the letter that I had already shown the concierge, she then conceded the point. We were then told they would need 24 hours notice, though they accepted the two hours notice I offered. The place was a ghost town anyway. The meal we were given was a tourist's menu with almost no choices. The food was mediocre, at best: a large piece of perfectly cooked flavorless steak. We tried to attract the attention of a waiter to sign for the meal, if that was required, but we were not able to attract anyone's attention, after a long while we left. This truly was one of the worst meals we had in Italy. I found the manner in which they did it made us feel tacky for collecting our meal as well.

Breakfasts were included in our stay. The service was mediocre. Don't expect another cup of tea or coffee. Don't expect to have your plates cleared. I noticed a few tables were waited on after their initial seating, I don't know if that was their persistence or if they were important guests.

EXTRAS
The internet was 9 Euros a night. After inquiring about the internet we were told you could pay by the hour but that wasn't true. It is 9 Euros a night. When I couldn't figure out how to go online, they asked if we have an Apple. We do. I wondered why they didn't have directions printed out for this recurring problem, instead they sent a repairman up to the room.

Although the hotel claims to offer massage services, they require 24 hours notice. We tried to book massages however we were told that the next day there was only 1 hour available and that there was only one masseur. If we wanted massages for the rest of our trip the masseur had only 11am appointments and no back to back appointments. Why say you offer massage?

There is no DVD player in the room and they have disabled the TV so we were unable to hook up our portable DVD player or our Apple IPAD.

Perhaps our expectations were too high. Our previous hotel, the Santa Caterina had been so lovely and completely exceeded our expectations. The Santa Caterina had given us an room upgrade for our honeymoon. The Santa Caterina was all warmth and hospitality. There seemed to be so many charming hotels to stay at in Taormina, skip this one.

  • Stayed: January 2011, travelled as a couple
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5  Thank travelita
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 December 2010

Concierge is by definition suppose to assist visitors. But Francisco at this location helped us with significant changes in our itinerary in the most professional and efficient manner.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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Thank 2traveler123
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 November 2010

We stayed here for three nights in early November. The hotel is very beautiful with lovely grounds and beautiful views but it did not feel warm and welcoming. We ate in the hotel on our first night as we arrived in the dark and had not had time to explore the town. The price of dinner was extremely high, and in comparison with the £15 per head dinner we'd had the night before at the Gatwick Hilton, we felt we ate better at the Hilton for a fraction of the price.
The room was comfortable with linen sheets which were changed daily, but the annoying habit of the tv coming on as soon as you entered the room and activating the light switches was something we found irritating - I'm sure there must be some way of over-riding this but we couldn't find it.
The wifi wasn't working for the whole time we were there which we thought pretty bad for a 5 star hotel.
Taormina itself, as has been pointed out by another reviewer, is pretty but can be seen in a day. It is unlikely that we will return. We would recommend the hotel as long as you don't have dinner which is over priced and definitely not worth it.

  • Stayed: November 2010, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank PennyPorter
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 20 October 2010

This is a beautiful building in a fabulous location overlooking the sea. Converted from a monastic building (boy, did those monasts know how to live!), the hotel retains a lot of the tranquility you might associate with a monastery with a high level of hotel service. Our room was large enough with a lovely covered balcony looking straight out over the Ionian sea. Good size bed, decent bathroom/shower, plenty of storage in built-in closet (or wardrobe as we say in 'Europe'), though not quite enough drawer space. Massive flat-screen TV but it had the irritating habit of coming on whenever you turned on the master power switch.No tea/coffee making equipment in the room (but maybe this is a distinctive UK thing).

Extraordinary number of reception rooms all furnished with massive, old furniture. You could easily get lost downstairs. Lovely, quiet gardens with lots of seating. Small pool which we didn't try.

Finding the breakfast room was an expedition. Served a big breakfast buffet, catering for an international clientele, in a massive, high ceilinged room. ordered hot drinks could take a while to arrive but service was otherwise good. The only problem on our first morning was a group of americans holding a planning meeting of some kind over breakfast and doing it loud enough to communicate with New York without technological assistance! There were (at least) two other restaurants the 'regular' one and a 'gourmet' restaurant with only 7 (ish) tables. The physical layout of the dining areas was a bit weird (kind of marked out area in a larger space) but lunch in the regular restaurant was very pleasant with a good (but pricey) wine list. The gourmet restaurant (chef allegedly recented voted the best in Italy) was, as we say in my manor, a bit 'up itself'. The ambience was pretentious, funereal even,and the food was so-so at best. We accepted the recommendation to try the tasting menu - on the basis that one would get a number of appropriately small courses. The starter end of the selection was pretty good but the main( fish) course was bland and uninteresting and the cheese selection was curiously one-note (no soft cheese for instance). Front of house staff were attentive and helpful with a concierge desk good at arranging things and offering suggestions for, e.g, other places to eat. We can recommend Al Duomo (opposite the cathedral) and a place called (I think) Arc in the Via Capucinni for simple Italian food based mainly on fish. Prices everywhere were high. We can also recommend the wine shop (called I think Cantina Sole) close to the Porto Cantania, which sells unusual local wine and is run by a knowledgeable and helpful guy.

Taormina itself offered lots of places to eat and shop. Shopping mostly arranged along one main street with most high end clothing brands represented (one retailer- Parisi - was particularly well represented. This is a low level big mountain village with large level changes. We walked up to a nearby village called Castelmola about 300 metres above the centre of Taormina and then, the following day, walked down to sea level at Bella Isola. This was hot and quite strenuous but, to be honest, I don't know what we'd have occupied our time with otherwise. Unless you are a dedicated shopper or sunbather, I don't think you'd have much left to do after 24 hours in Taormina. Unless you take an anthropological interest in Homo Touristico because these you get to observe in wide variety and large numbers. Saturday, in particular, brought coach loads of tourists including a new American (and other nationalities) invasion from a massive cruise ship anchored in the bay below.

In summary then, a lovely hotel beautifully situated and with attentive, helpful service but more proud of its cuisine than the cuisine justifies.

  • Stayed: October 2010, travelled as a couple
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2  Thank Paul C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about San Domenico Palace Hotel

Address: Piazza San Domenico 5, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Region: Italy > Sicily > Province of Messina > Taormina
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#12 Luxury Hotel in Taormina
Price Range: £236 - £270 (Based on Average Rates for a Standard Room)
Hotel Class:5 star — San Domenico Palace Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 108
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
A LUXURY 5-STAR HOTEL ON THE EAST COAST OF SICILY The San Domenico Palace Hotel sits in a truly magnificent setting that has attracted people from ancient times. A luxury 5-star hotel in an ancient Dominican monastery, it has views over Mount Etna and Taormina Bay on the east coast of Sicily not far from Messina. Countless famous writers, artists and composers, came here to savour this unique spot at the very tip of Italy. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Palazzo San Domenico Taormina
Palazzo San Domenico Hotel Taormina
San Domenico Palace Hotel Taormina, Sicily

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