This is the most pretentious hotel imaginable. If you like to be treated like "royalty" like some reviewers suggest it basically means that the staff treat you like an imbecile who knows nothing about luxury hotels, wine, or just about anything else. While I found the other guests very pleasant I could not have been more disappointed with the rest.
Not all was bad: We had a deluxe room that was very spacious and well-appointed, although more in the style of a Hilton hotel than a small luxury hotel. The bathroom was beautiful but no slippers were provided, which was inconvenient given that tiles in Sicilian winters feel very cold.
Now to other "gripes" - although the hotel claims to be "nestled in the Valley of the Temples" there is actually NO direct access to the temples from the hotel. If you walk the quarter mile to the valley entrance you have to cross a very busy road to get to the very rough pedestrian walkway on the other side of the street. Even so, you basically take your life into your hands, particularly on the steep climb back up the hill to the hotel. If you drive from the hotel instead, you will need to park down the hill and then walk anyway. Next time I go to the Valley of the Temples (glorious and DEFINITELY worth seeing) I will stay in a different hotel and simply drive to the Valley.
Now to the restaurant experience: The food was delicious but the service among the worst I have experienced anywhere. It all began with the waiter showing us a bottle of "local wine" before we had even ordered our food -- at the price of 50 Euros! When I asked to see the wine card the waiter responded in a huff and brought a rather substantial leather-bound wine list. I picked a 40 Euro bottle of 2009 Chardonnay from Marsala, one of the nice wine regions of Sicily. When I wanted to order the bottle the waiter first argued with me that our fish dishes would also go very well with the local red wine he had suggested, which I am sure cost only a couple of Euros in the local supermarket. When that didn't convince me he told me snobbishly that the Marsala Chardonnay was out of stock and that he would bring me "another bottle that also costs 40 Euros." Before I could even ask him what kind of wine and to show it to me on the wine card he departed, only to return a few minutes late with a 2010 white wine that was way too warm, of poor quality, and did not come from a grape that I at all recognized. He poured about an inch into my glass to let me try to wine and when I suggested that it needed to be chilled he left in another huff and returned with a huge ice bucket into which he placed the bottle. That was the last time he touched the bottle -- I had to pour the wine for us throughout the meal, as well as refill our mineral water from the bottle we had ordered. At that point there were 3 American couples in the restaurant, two sharing one table and another one sitting by themselves. Certainly not enough people for two waiters to be unable to provide acceptable service at a supposed 5-star establishment!
The next round of huffing and puffing came when we ordered only one appetizer to share, as we had had a very late lunch and didn't feel like eating too much. He asked us incredulously several times if we were REALLY only getting one seafood appetizer! The main course (we each had a fish dish) was very good -- thank God the chef has been much better trained than the wait staff.
More huffing and puffing when we didn't order desert -- by this time we were so thoroughly annoyed that it would not have tasted very good. The poor and arrogant service basically ruined our appetite.
Not that there was much choice in any case: The "menu" was on a folded thin piece of paper (the kind you would get in a diner in a really cheap diner in the United States) and offered 3 appetizers, 3 main courses, and 3 desserts -- all in Italian only. The translation provided by the waiter was once again offered with utmost disdain. Sorry for not knowing Italian well enough, signor! I would have expected a bi-lingual menu in such an expensive restaurant catering basically only to foreign tourists.
The bill for this dinner came to exactly 100 Euros -- an outrageous amount for the location.
So my overall advice is to avoid this hotel at all costs -- stay in a near-by hotel, find a good restaurant in Agrigento, and drive to the Valley of the Temples. That is, of course, unless you want to be treated like "royalty" and don't mind being ripped off by an establishment obviously specialized in treating foreigners like cash machines.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hotel Villa Athena re-opened in July 2009 after an extensive and authentic restoration which lasted one year. The entire villa underwent a massive renovation to meet international luxury standards. The hotel features 27 large comfortable rooms and suites, most of them facing the enchanting Tempio della Concordia. A traditional cuisine-based restaurant Il granaio di Ibla, a Lounge bar, an outdoor swimming-pool and a gorgeous park complete the outstanding services of this new luxury property. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Athena Hotel Agrigento
- Hotel Villa Athena Agrigento, Sicily