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“Close to heaven in every sense...”
5 of 5 bubbles Review of Hotel Villa Ducale

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Hotel Villa Ducale
Ranked #1 of 88 Hotels in Taormina
Certificate of Excellence
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“Close to heaven in every sense...”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 June 2012

Friends of ours have stayed at the Villa Ducale many times over the past twelve years, so we thought we were prepared for the experience.

We weren't.

The usual terms you tend to find in TripAdvisor reviews... "a gem," "gracious and welcoming"... simply can't do it justice. Our stay there was one of the best travel experiences we’ve ever had, and we've been around a while and gone to quite a few places.

From the second you walk through the door, all the rush and stress of getting from your previous Point A to this most charming of all Point Bs begins to fall away. A staff member greets you, and you immediately start to feel that all needs will be met, all questions answered… everything’s going to be okay.

And then you look around. Oh, boy, do you look around! Just a few steps from the reception desk, the view from the terrace is, sweeping, breathtaking and a half-dozen other adjectives usually reserved for Hollywood epics. A vast swath of the Ionian Sea is framed by the flowers of the terrace parapet and Etna steams away in the distance. Take the good camera… you’re gonna need it.

And then there’s breakfast, though it almost seems laughable to apply such a mundane term to what you encounter as you blink and shuffle your way to the terrace in the morning. You’re hoping for good coffee and something decent to get you through to lunch. What you find is two large tables set in two different rooms, covered in sweets and savories, meats and breads, cheeses and olives and usually at least two things you’ve never seen before but quickly learn to try anyway. One of the most frequently heard remarks at a Villa Ducale breakfast is, “What is this?”, usually spoken delightedly through a large mouthful of whatever it is. And if you’re not feeling adventurous, there are chafing dishes chock full of the usual nice homey eggs and things, and cereal, and blood orange juice and… oh, just forget it. Trust me. It’s all there.

One day, while everyone else went to the beach, I stayed behind at the hotel for some quiet reading time and I got a chance to observe the staff at work. It was a wonder to behold. I saw at least three different arrivals and each one was treated with the same degree of welcoming warmth. The really amazing thing was that the welcome was never forced or robotic. The staff at Villa Ducale really, really like their jobs and it shows! Their smiles are genuine, as is their concern for making the stay of each and every one of their guests as pleasant and carefree as possible, not just at the hotel, but throughout Taormina. I mean, just read some of the other reviews here. Note how frequently the guests remember some or all of the staff members’ names. When’s the last time a hotel employee inspired you to do that?

The other amazing thing is that they managed to accomplish all that without once being invasive or intrusive. It was hospitality taken to the level of a fine art. I never passed through the lobby or sat on the terrace without someone gently inquiring if I wanted or needed anything, getting it for me if I did, and then quietly going about their business. Other than that, you hardly notice the staff until you start to feel you do need something, and it's amazing how often they seem to pick up on that before you have to ask.

They’re even thinking about you when you’re NOT there! The four of us lingered over dinner longer than we should have on our final night, past the departure time for the hotel shuttle. By all standards of fairness, we should have been left to our own devices. Instead, we were approached by a waiter with a phone. It was the desk clerk at the Villa Ducale (who had made our restaurant reservation earlier) making sure we were all right.

Andrea and Rosaria Quartucci have created a masterpiece. Two masterpieces, actually, since they also own the Villa Carlotta, another small, stylish, elegant gem just a short walk outside Taormina proper. One wall of the ground floor bar is an actual ancient Roman wall with deep chambers that used to house actual ancient dead Romans! They now house gorgeous Sicilian ceramics in gleaming silver plate. We dined at the terrace restaurant… squid ink linguini, spaghetti allo scoglio, pistachio ricotta ravioli, preceded by at least a half dozen remarkable appetizers and followed by a glass of the local almond wine. We were too full for dessert.

I realize I’m in danger of writing one of those reviews that are far too long for anyone to read. Believe me, I could go on a lot longer.

Thank you Alessia, Santina, Paolo, Antonio and Saro for a most memorable vacation!
Thank you Andrea and Rosaria for your warmth and kindness, your exquisite taste and the artistry of your hospitality!

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with friends
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Helpful?
5 Thank Brian C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Rating summary
  • Sleep Quality
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Location
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Rooms
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Service
    5 of 5 bubbles
  • Value
    4.5 of 5 bubbles
  • Cleanliness
    5 of 5 bubbles
Traveller tips help you choose the right room.   Room tips (310)
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English first
Palm City, Florida
Level Contributor
237 reviews
53 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 29 June 2012

After much research on TA we decided on Hotel Villa Ducale and we were NOT disappointed.
From the moment you arrive they make you feel at home. I'm not really sure how they do it but we were there 2 nights and everyone knew who we were. Breakfast was exactly as previous written delicious and not to be missed. They also serve appertizers thoroughout the afternoon and cookies as snacks. Rosalia the owner one of the mornings went around introducing herself and thanking us for staying in her property. Paolo, Santi, Iglie, Dylan were extremely attentive. I would say that if you can, stay in room # 10. This is a great property for the money. The shuttle is a plus.
Keep in mind the hotel is at the top of the mountain. If you are not familiar with the area we would suggest not arriving late at night. You can park on the street or for 10 euros a night inside.
If we are lucky enough to return to Taormina, this is the only choice for us!!!

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
4 Thank NPC07
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Zurich, Switzerland
Level Contributor
69 reviews
32 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 53 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 28 June 2012

Even though everything has been said here about this stunning hotel, I would like to emphazise once more on this outstanding team! Where in hell did you find such a superbe team? Incredible!! They are really a best practise example for hospitality...very natural, very authentic, soooo friendly and helpful...I felt completely at home!
This is the highlight of Villa Ducale apart from stunning views, wonderful breakfasts with lovely cake buffets and all the rest.
Two little hints to the owners: In the rooms underneath the terrace one hears every little movement on the terrace as the chairs are metal on a stone floor. Could you not put some carpets on the terrace or provide the chairs with little felt washers? And concerning your inroom safes: they should be mounted on the wall - otherwise they are good for nothing as everyone can just grab them and take them along. A part from that, your place is wonderful!!!!

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank Eva_Maria_10
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London
Level Contributor
48 reviews
33 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 June 2012

Whatever people say about Tripadvisor, there is a reason why certain hotels make it to the top of the list - Villa Ducale is an example of this.

Villa Ducale is a home, not a big hotel. The minute you arrive you are treated like a treasured guest/ family member and this continues throughout your stay. I haven't experienced service like this before - it isn't forced or over the top, Villa Ducale manage to get it just right.

It is expensive, but we didn't begrudge a penny because we had such a wonderful time.

The public area is the terrace, which overlooks Etna. Breakfast, afternoon tea and evening canapés/cocktails / dinner are held on the terrace. For those wanting some outside space, there is a small terrace on the opposite side of the road with a lovely jacuzzi.

We went on to Palermo after Taormina and it was a bit of a shock to the system because we had been so spoiled. If you want to stay somewhere beautiful and intimate with amazing service then I cannot believe that Villa Ducale can be beaten.

On the practical side - Villa Ducale is high up on the hillside, but there is a path with steps going right into town and Villa Ducale runs a regular shuttle service. There is also a sister hotel (Carlotta) with small pool below the town and residents of Ducale are welcomed at Carlotta.

This place really is special. I felt privileged to be there.

  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank Julia75
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
14 reviews
10 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 23 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 26 June 2012

We've just spent seven glorious nights at Villa Ducale and the only bad thing about it was leaving. I can't ever remember feeling so utterly bereft to check out of a hotel. We felt as if we were saying goodbye to friends and family and a place that had become a home. To give you an idea of how quickly the magic of Villa Ducale works, I should say that my partner and I arrived at about 9.30pm, stressed out of our minds. Work and various other crises had turned us into basketcases. Ten minutes after arriving, we were sitting on Villa Ducale's magical terrace, looking out over the lights of Taormina and the shimmering Mediterranean and I could not recall for the life of me why I'd been worried. The secret of this hotel is not that it is perfect is the conventional sense. The rooms are lovely, but you'll find many more stylish or luxurious across the world. The secret is the warm, kind staff, the amazing atmosphere - peaceful, friendly and relaxed - and the magnificent breakfasts - surely among the best on earth. We stayed in room 33, a superior with a lovely little terrace and superb view, and wonderful suite 2, which I highly recommend. Both fab, although I'd move into room 2 any day. In short, if you're hesitating because it seems pricey in comparison to other places, don't. Your stay will be unforgettable.

Room Tip: Room 2 is great or Room 33 if you want something cheaper
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  • Stayed June 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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Helpful?
1 Thank whitegiraffe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
1 review
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 June 2012

We stayed in the Villa Ducale for 3 nights in the suite de-luxe.

I proposed on the first night, and mentioned this to Paolo who kindly arranged for rose petals to be laid in a heart on the bed. I thought this was the highlight of the service, but was just the start. Paolo, Antonio, Manuel and everyone are just fantastic and couldn't do more for anyone.

Go, enjoy the amazing views over Naxos and Mount Etna, the amazing food on the lovely terrace, and the best service we have ever received.

Thank you to all the staff.

Daniel

  • Stayed June 2012
    • Value
    • Location
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank Zoeanddaniel
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
New York City, New York
Level Contributor
85 reviews
44 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 38 helpful votes
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed 24 June 2012

We immensely enjoyed our four night vacation at Villa Ducale in mid-June. We are a family from New York City who has traveled all over Europe and Villa Ducale was one of the most fantastic places we have ever stayed. We were apprehensive when our travel agent suggested the hotel, which is situated ten minutes above the town of Taormina thinking it was out of the way. The location is superb, above the town with more expansive views of the sea and Mount Etna. The small hotel is magical. Every detail is near perfection. The rooms are decorated in a unique fashion. Our triple had plenty of room, a beautiful bathroom with a Jacuzzi, a terrace and an additional balcony – both with views of Taormina and the sea below. It was quiet and private – beautifully and creatively furnished and spanking clean. The staff cannot do enough for you. Thank you to Antonio, Santi, Alyssia, and the rest for being so kind, friendly and helpful. They go out of their way to make you feel like you are part of their family. They work very hard but always have a smile on their faces and are willing to help with your every need. We had the pleasure of meeting the owners, Rosaria and Andrea, who are first class hoteliers. They are passionate about running a top-notch hotel and always take time to mingle with the guests to check in on their needs. They have created an environment which invokes a special experience that flows over to the guests making everyone happy and friendly. Now onto the food. Ducale has 2 lovely public rooms – one is a large living room for relaxing, and the other an outdoor terrace overlooking the majestic Etna. The breakfast is the best I have ever had in all of my years of travel. Course upon course of fresh and delicious Sicilian food. There is also a complimentary tea at 4 pm and tapas at 6 pm. The hotel provides a scheduled shuttle bus that drives you to the beach or town multiple times a day. They are happy to offer restaurant recommendations, although the restaurant at Ducale is beautiful and first class. The owners also have an additional hotel, Carlotta, closer to town. We ate dinner on the terrace at Carlotta one evening which was delicious. From their terrace at dark you can see the Italian mainland. We can’t say enough good things about Ducale. We also met extraordinary and interesting people – everyone is very friendly and pleased to strike up a conversation. I highly recommend this fine hotel, and am already planning my next visit. I shall return! We send our very best wishes to everyone at Ducale. Fondly, Gary, Rachel and Izzy from New York City

Room Tip: All rooms are lovely - but do ask for a room with a terrace and a view of Taormina and the sea.
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  • Stayed June 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
Thank NYCGal2010
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Hotel Villa Ducale

Property: Hotel Villa Ducale
Address: via Leonardo da Vinci 60, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Phone Number:
Region: Italy > Sicily > Province of Messina > Taormina
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Free Breakfast Free High Speed Internet ( WiFi ) Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Shuttle Bus service Suites
Hotel Style:
#1 Luxury Hotel in Taormina
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £££
Hotel Class:4 star — Hotel Villa Ducale 4*
Number of rooms: 17
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
The Taormina Hotel Villa Ducale is small luxury boutique hotel perched in an elevated position above the centre of Taormina km 1,3) commanding a unique outstanding view over the Mediterranean sea and Mount Etna.Our hotel,member of HIP hotels, is incredibly pretty, with flowers and colours adorning every angle, and a view to die for.Every bedroom is individually designed with the highest attention to detail, furnished with great taste in a mix of Sicilian traditional and Italian design contemporary style, each has its own private panoramic terrace or balcony.The hotel is able to offer a variety of personalised services, such as cooking lessons, wine tasting and tailor made meals, special romantic candle-lit dinners which can be arranged easily with the super friendly staff.Eleven Double rooms and six suites with full aminities and free wi-fi connection.Free shuttle to center and the beach. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Ducale Hotel Taormina
Hotel Villa Ducale Taormina, Sicily

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