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Hotel Villa Ducale
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Reviewed 11 August 2014

We have just returned from a week at Villa Ducale and it has been a truly magnificent week! The views from the hotel are up there with some of the top views in the world. The breakfast is fantastic and the staff treat you as family which really adds a personal touch. I cant fault this hotel on anything! Would highly recommend.

  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Service
2  Thank wood_sam
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
VillaDucale, Front Office Manager at Hotel Villa Ducale, responded to this reviewResponded 12 August 2014

Dear Wood Sam,
a big thank you for taking the time to write such a nice comment of your stay with us. We truly enjoyed it.
Kind regards,
Charly, Villa Ducale

Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 August 2014

We stayed at Villa Ducale for one week at the beginning of August with our two children (13 and 10). We were looking for an amazing, yet traditional place to stay to celebrate our 15th anniversary and also to treat our children to something special and for them to experience a different culture as much as possible as this was their first holiday outside of the UK and we most definitely were not disappointed!

We booked directly with the hotel and Paolo, Santi and Martina were incredibly helpful during this time, answering all our questions quickly and they also arranged for us to be collected from the airport via a taxi and sent a map of the airport with clear instructions as to where we would be collected from - fantastic! Unfortunately, there was an issue with our plane during the journey and we had to land at Rome so that it could be fixed, however, we called the hotel, explained the situation and were assured that it wasn't a problem and that the driver would be there waiting when we did eventually land in Catania and he was. On arrival at the hotel, we were greeted by Paolo and another gentleman (with curly hair) who's name unfortunately I don't know and showed to the gorgeous terrace with the MOST beautiful views of the bay and a smouldering Mount Etna, given wine, juice for the children and a selection of Sicilian appetisers - much needed after our long journey! After a few minutes we were joined by Loris, who talked us through the history of Villa Ducale, the breakfast, afternoon cakes and appetisers in the evening and then presented us with a map of Taormina and made some recommendations on where to eat, where to find good Gelato and Granita and also some ideas of excursions and things not to be missed. He told us to treat the hotel as if it was our home and to relax and then took us to our room.

We booked a Suite De-Luxe (Room 6), located across the small (but often busy, be careful if you have small children!) road from the main part of the hotel. We had two spacious rooms within the suite, one with a king-sized bed and one with a double sofa bed and a single bed as we had requested, a super-large bathroom and our own large terrace with a table and two chairs (had to request two extra chairs). Loris talked us through how to use the much needed air-con, how to operate the TV's, the contents of the mini-bar and the pillow menu then left us to settle in. We were very happy with the suite, it was nicely decorated (although some of the fixtures in the bathroom might need a little update, still great though) and it was spotless (the rooms are serviced twice a day, the turn-down service was an unexpected treat!). The views from our terrace were spectacular across the Gulf of Messina to the Italian mainland and the Calabrian mountains. By this point I was pretty sure we'd found paradise..

We ate dinner at the hotel on four occasions (once in the room at the children's request as they were keen to experience room service) and the food was very good. The children stuck to what they knew and chose pasta pomodoro (pasta with tomato sauce), pasta Bolognese and lasagne while we sampled the veal (Cotoletta which is breaded veal escalopes and really delicious), a tasting plate of mixed fish including swordfish, tuna, salmon and roe and I had some amazing grilled giant shrimp. On one occasion, we were told that the special was sea bass and that it could be prepared either baked with tomatoes and garlic or simply grilled, but this was the only time that we had been offered anything "off-menu" so to speak. We didn't meet the much talked-about Santini, sadly. As all the reviews state, the breakfast is fabulous, a delicious mix of Sicilian dishes (the mushrooms were a favourite of mine), cakes (especially the orange cake), tarts (the fig one was lovely), pastries, fruit, cereals, juices, scrambled eggs, bacon and a selection of breads. The wonderful lady, who's name I also don't know, who served at breakfast remembered what drinks we ordered on our first morning and repeated them every day. The children opted for croissants and fruit every day and were really happy. The afternoon tea (drinks are extra but it's worth it for the huge selection of yummy things to eat) was also lovely featuring cakes, tarts and pastries and the early evening appetisers were very nice indeed - a great mix of small Sicilian dishes which the children were wary of but we really enjoyed, they did enjoy the prosciutto wrapped bread sticks though. We found the main terrace so relaxing that on a couple of days, we lingered there with a bottle of wine from late afternoon to early evening. Although we had our own terrace and enjoyed an evening drink there on most evenings, we feel that it would be nice if there was a little more room on the main terrace for those wanting to enjoy a drink or two during the evening. As the space is small and tables for dinner are in demand, from around 7pm the terrace appears to be a "dinner only" space. There are sofa's and tables inside the bar area though, but with such warm weather and the fact that Etna treated us to an eruption of which there were clear views from the main terrace, it seemed a shame to sit inside!

All the staff we encountered were great, really helpful and as an unorganised family of four, I think we probably tested the "nothing is any trouble" philosophy to the max with requests for pillows from the menu, extra chairs for the terrace, wine and juices in the room most evenings, jugs of milk for the in-room tea and coffee making facilities, dinner in the room on one occasion and a few random questions and last-minute cancellations of beach (because it rained for about 1 minute and we panicked) and pool shuttles (as our Son was feeling unwell)!! The gentleman with the curly hair organised us a jeep tour of Etna and the Alcantara Gorge with Legendary Sicily which was a truly amazing experience and one not to be missed (reviewed separately) and also organised a trip to La Caravella Beach Club (one of two lido's they have a collaboration with). We took the shuttle down to the sister hotel Villa Carlotta to use the pool there twice. On one occasion, we had booked the 10.45am shuttle to the pool but my Son was feeling unwell so we cancelled. My husband explained the situation to Martina and she was great about it. Her concern for him seemed really genuine and she told us that she would get him anything he needed or wanted. Within an hour or two he was absolutely fine and we took the 3pm shuttle to the pool instead. Villa Carlotta is a great place too, we had dinner there on both occasions which really pleased the children as they serve fab pizza's! I also had a wonderful salad of mixed lettuces, pepper, cucumber, sun-dried tomatoes, olives and beautiful mozzarella cheese. All the staff at Carlotta were super-friendly and we were made to feel really welcome there. I have to give a special mention to Elia at Villa Ducale, who from the moment we arrived was just amazing. He nicknamed our Daughter "Princess", which instantly had her wrapped around his little finger and really nothing was any trouble. He worked so hard (he takes many roles within the hotel) but always had a smile and time to chat. He drove us down in the shuttle to Carlotta once and as we hadn't booked the shuttle back (we planned to walk the 650 steps back up!) he made us promise him that we would call if we wanted collecting and that we were NOT to get a bus or a taxi. His eagerness to make our holiday as stress-free and relaxing as possible was completely genuine, I believe he would go far out of his way to do anything that would make you happy and would do it because he wanted too, not because he's paid to and he really is a great, great guy. Although all the Villa Ducale staff were brilliant, service was sometimes a little slow. We had to wait 24 hours for two extra chairs for our terrace, two hours for one pillow, one afternoon we were left on the main terrace wanting to order some more drinks, but there was absolutely no-one to be found anywhere for around an hour, my Husband had been going over to the bar/reception to get wine and milk every evening, however, Santi insisted that he call from the room in future so that they could bring it over, but when we did no milk appeared and almost an hour later, my Husband had to go and collect it himself and on our last evening we sat down for dinner at 8.30pm but didn't get our meals until gone 10pm, by which time the children no longer felt like eating. I do suspect this is just the Sicilian way and it most certainly didn't cast a shadow over our holiday - just be prepared to be patient at times! We used the hot tub one morning, which was a real treat!

The area surrounding the hotel was as beautiful as the hotel itself. If you don't want to take the shuttle to the main town and the Corso Umberto and if you are feeling fit, then there are steps down from the Monastery at the top of the hill (674 as counted by our Daughter) and steps that take you down through the houses also (480!). The views from the Monastery steps are well worth the journey. There's a little snack bar at the top of the Monastery hill selling water, drinks (both soft and alcoholic) and snacks - the views from there over Taormina, Giardini Naxos and Etna are gorgeous, we walked up there from the hotel every evening. The shops on the Corso are ridiculously expensive and if you are looking for souvenirs, visit the shops on the road that leads up to the Greek theatre (Teatro Antico) as they are much better value! We had lunch at the Wunderbar, nice Panini's - two cheese, one ham & cheese and one Mediterranean vegetable, a coke, a sprite, an apple juice, a Guinness (not even 1/2 a pint for 9.50 Euros!) and the bill came to 70 Euros! On the road up to the Teatro Antico, we found a bar that served pizza by the slice, Arancini, Foccacia's and drinks among other things, so we ordered 4 huge slices of pizza, 1 Arancini to try, 2 bottles of water and 2 bottles of Coke to take away and it came to 18 Euro's! Much better value and we ate it in the public gardens which are stunning and a welcome shady retreat from the blazing heat! The beach at La Caravella Beach Club was nice (shingle) and you get loungers and a parasol between two for 15 Euro's each. Lunch there was great, we all had toasted sandwiches which came with chips - happy children!! Please don't miss a trip to Etna and the Alcantara gorges, both are incredible! We would have liked to have visited the blue caves by boat, but we ran out of time and also Isola Bella, but we couldn't get our Daughter onto the cable car to get to it! Maybe next time...

Overall, I was a little worried that the children may feel uncomfortable, but they didn't and were made to feel as welcome as us despite the hotel being mainly frequented by couples (Villa Carlotta seemed to be a tiny bit more family friendly with the pool and a wider food menu) and we had a truly wonderful, wonderful holiday. When we checked out, Santi gave us a bottle of wine to take home, which was very much appreciated and a really nice touch).

Huge thanks to all the staff at Villa Ducale (and Villa Carlotta) for making our holiday the very special one that we had hoped for! We are telling everyone that they must stay with you and one day, we would very, very much like to return! Ciao!

  • Stayed: August 2014, travelled with family
    • Location
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
4  Thank MrsLizB
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014

We just returned from a week-long trip to the South East of Sicily, and we saved the best for last, with our last three nights spent at Villa Ducale. We certainly had high hopes for Taormina and Villa Ducale, and we were not disappointed. In fact, the second morning we already started talking Bput how we should just plan a future vacation with a full week spent here.

We usually like to stay in smaller, boutique hotels and chose Villa Ducale for the high marks it gets for service. The whole staff exceeded our expectations; they were all very friendly and extremely helpful with recommendations. Martina and Paulo in particular made a great impression, but everyone was always very friendly, whether at the afternoon tea service, the evening happy hour, or the fabulous breakfast.

We stayed in one of the suites across the street, which we found to be a great value; loved the view of the bay over coffee on our little terrace. The rooms are very tastefully decorated, with once little touches throughout, and the bathrooms are extra large.

The shuttle service to town and to the beach worked out well for us, though it does take a little planning. We hadn't realized at the time of booking how much farther up the hill the hotel is from the main town of Taormina and we were very relieved not to have to drive the hairpin road every day. One day we hired a boat for an our at beach club La Pigna, which was great (and a lot cheaper than on Capri, for example!), and the other day we went to La Caravella, another nice beach club that the hotel partners with.

So happy we decided to splurge a little on this part of our stay; hope to return one day.

Stayed: August 2014, travelled as a couple
2  Thank Ilbucofan
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014 via mobile

Superbly run hotel. What makes the difference is that all the staff are so very keen to be sure you enjoy your stay. Very professional service. Lovely views of both Etna and the coast. Great tradition of serving free antipasto bites at sunset. Regular free shuttle service to beaches and Center of town including in the evening up to 11:30. Rooms well appointed and good standard. Highly recommended.

Stayed: August 2014
Thank Ben M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 August 2014

Our recent stay at Villa Ducale was truly magical and an experience to remember. I have travelled throughout Italy on an ongoing basis for the last 10 years and Villa Ducale provided a fantastic experience, one which I will always look back at with great memories. The magnificent panoramic views from the terrace are unquestionably the most breathtaking I've ever seen with Mt Etna, the coastline and the city of Taormina dominating the views. Upon arrival management welcome you with fantastic enthusiasm not only showcasing their hotel but also their city. The management and working staff in the kitchen and the restaurant were exceptional. Nothing was ever too much for them. After arriving late on a Friday night we were welcomed to enjoy drinks on the terrace at our own pace while we took in everything around us. We were briefed the following morning regarding the hotel facilities and the many things to do in Taormina and with their help planned the ensuing week ahead. Our room had a beautiful terrace two across from the hotel's main terrace and the room itself was immaculately cleaned daily. The restaurant certainly did not disappoint. Santina the Chef certainly contributed to our experience. We dined in the restaurant on 3 of the 7 evenings and the local dishes were magnificent. You know you're staying somewhere special when the Chef comes out at the end of each evening and speaks to all of its patrons asking for feedback and comments......and then is excited to tell you what she is planning to cook in the upcoming evenings showcasing the local Sicilian cuisine. Special mention to Serena who attended to us in the restaurant on those evenings - she was brilliant! The hotel offers a shuttle service to the main town and the beaches. Although these are offered at set times I found that staff would go out of their way to help out if you were stuck for any reason. There is no doubt that service and attention to detail is what Villa Ducale offers to its clients. Most of the reviews have covered all the major positives that the hotel offers and I wholeheartedly agree. The only thing missing was a pool but in a location like this you would be well advised to explore the numerous beach club options as a much more enjoyable experience. Overall fantastic service, breathtaking location and a very special hotel. By the end of the week we felt as though we were coming back to our own home after our daily excursions rather than a hotel. Martina, Paolo, Santi & Elia were fantastic at the front desk and we thank them and their fellow staff members for their contribution to our fantastic week in Taormina. I have no hesitation in recommending Villa Ducale and look forward to revisiting both Taormina and Villa Ducale in years to come.

Room Tip: Rooms on the restaurant side of the road are preferable.
  • Stayed: July 2014, travelled as a couple
    • Sleep Quality
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
1  Thank Robert C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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