A stunningly beautiful, historic hotel. We walked to our rooms past a large central garden courtyard, and up a beautiful wide staircase. Our room, one of the former monks' cells in the old monastery wing, was off a wide corridor, which still retains the sense of privacy and peace that must have existed when San Domenico was a monastery.
There are tranquil cloisters, and wonderful gardens with stunning views of Taormina and Etna, planted with citrus and palm trees, bougainvillea, lovely flowering shrubs and flowers which looked good even in September after the heat of a Sicilian summer. To get to the dining area - a massive former refectory - with a beautiful terrace, shaded by sun umbrellas, where we ate breakfast, you pass through the sort of incredibly spacious and beautifully furnished rooms you find in stately homes. I felt really privileged to be staying there.
Rooms: We (mother and adult daughter) stayed 10 nights and had a superior double, (room 220), the best we could afford, with sea and garden-view and views of Etna. Quite small, with a small balcony - big enough for two to stand, one to sit. A bit short of surfaces to range our bits and pieces, as a large flat-screen tv, tray with glasses and hotel info folders took up quite a bit of space on the one table.
Talked to guests in the modern wing and they had bigger rooms and balconies, but I guess you get what you pay for.
Beds: an absolute dream - the most comfortable I've ever slept in (most hotel beds in Italy are hard!)
Bathroom, a tad small, but very nice, Good shower, (not a fixed head, thank heavens) masses of lovely bath gels and body cream etc. (in big tubes, not the usual little travel size) Soft towels, bath robes and slippers.
Plenty of hanging and drawer space in a large wardrobe in the entrance.
Room service and cleaning immaculate. Sensibly, they provide cards so you can request for bedding to be changed or not, when you wish, depending on how environmentally conscientious you are.
The only thing I would complain about was the air conditioning, which was rather noisy - other guests in this wing said the same, though the modern wing was ok apparently. As the temperature was in the 30's we needed the high setting. However at least it was a consistent sound and we got used to it, so after the first night our sleep wasn't disturbed. There was no other noise from inside or outside - it's the quietest hotel I've ever stayed in.
Breakfasts - what can I say?! Only superlatives... Serve yourself with everything you could ever want cooked English-style, Sicilian-style, French-style etc. Mushrooms, bacon, three types of sausage, grilled cherry tomatoes. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs - mmm! Cold meats. Delicious rösti potatoes. Salads. Fruit. If you like honey, there's lemon, cardoon or mixed flower honey - all exquisite. Breads and croissants of every variety. Fresh orange-juice, teas of every type. I drool thinking of it all.
And tea or coffee served on a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea, by perfectly-trained waiters. Bliss!
The pool is actually bigger than it appears, and very pleasant for a gentle swim. There is a shaded section as well as sun umbrellas, which we were quite grateful for in the heat.
We didn't eat in the restaurant in the evenings, as I'd been told it was expensive. I rather regret now that we didn't have one meal there, as I think it was for us a once-in-a-lifetime treat to stay in a hotel of this category.
It is a place I shall remember all my life, for its setting and class, the sheer beauty of the building and gardens, for the exquisite service and charm of the staff, and for those breakfasts...
- 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