We stayed at Castello Di San Marco in August 2013 for a week for our summer holiday.
Good news first. The hotel has a “wow factor”. You can’t help admiring it: beautiful grounds, well maintained gardens, wonderful private beach, big and beautiful swimming pool, main building is an old castle with a colourful collection of pictures and artefacts, with Etna in the background. Pretty cool. There are fountains, statues, candle lit paths at night, gazebos - you name it, they have it.
But then you come into your room and face a rather tired stark interior. The furniture upholstery and the bed cover could do with a good clean; the widows are looking out on a fence with a deserted field; the telly has few channels, nearly all Italian. Lovely to listen to but not very practical if you don’t speak Italian. English channels are almost non-existent.
All that is pretty insignificant though. You don’t come somewhere like this to watch TV. What made life difficult for me was the problem with wi-fi. Their website says that every room has wi-fi. This is not true. Wi-fi is supposed to be available at reception and various other areas, but it goes up and down. On the 1st day, we could not get it at all. And then I had to run around with my computer trying to get a signal. Could really do without it!
So if you are the kind of person who needs to keep in touch with the outside world, go on Twitter, search for information, do a bit of work on the go - this place is not for you. If of course you like to switch off on holiday completely, it’s ideal.
The beach is the nicest thing about this place. It’s free for the guests, clean, spacious, and has all the conveniences: sunbeds and parasols; toilets, cafe, towels. The sea is easy to get into. Perfect for bathing. If you want to lie on a lovely beach all day, you’re going to love it.
The restaurant is a separate story. It’s beautiful, arranged under a bell awning in the open air, BUT - expensive, pretentious, very slow service, rather unwelcoming. You have to book it in advance, even if you stay there. You have to wait for ages for somebody to take your order, then the food takes forever to arrive. You get the food presented with such pomp, as if it’s a culinary masterpiece that you will remember for the rest of your life. And it’s just a bowl of pasta (really). The prices are pretty steep. The pasta is charged at its own weight in gold.
Is it nice? Yes... mostly. But it’s not nearly nice enough to justify the prices. Why do people go there, then? Because there is nothing else in the area. That’s why we went there, before discovering a cheerful restaurant in the neighbouring town which served the same standard of food at half the price. So I would keep away from the restaurant. Note, though, that you’ll need a car to escape from it; the Castello is a very long way from anything else (the good news: they have a big car park that’s free for hotel guests).
And then there are weddings... One almost every night. You can see why - it’s a perfect setting. But weddings bring loud music till midnight. To be fair, it’s mostly nice traditional Italian music, which I like, but I would not choose to listen to it in bed at 11 am. We had a feeling that this hotel makes most of its money on weddings, and therefore the hotel guests and their comfort are less important. One night they let off fireworks for a wedding at 12.30am... pretty unforgivable.
I am conflicted about this hotel. I want to like it because it’s beautiful. Most of the staff are extremely nice and want to please. It’s the kind of place you really, really long to LIKE.
But... it disappoints, ultimately. I would love it if it had a proper wi-fi and a normal guest-friendly restaurant. And if the weddings were quieter. But they’re not.
That’s all I am saying.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Castello di San Marco charming hotel & SPA, a boutique romantic hotel immersed in a luxuriant park, on the glittering Jonian sea, between Taormina and the volcano Etna, this noble castle represented a splendid example of Sicilian Baroque architecture and well describe a part of the Sicilian History. The unique beauty of Castello di San Marco is timeless and is adapted to romantic and relaxing holidays, with its tranquil exteriors and elegant, softly lit interiors.30 elegant and charming suites take place in the park surrounding main building, SPA & beauty center , fine restaurant, wine lounge with a selection of 250 fine wines, very large swimming pool, private beach, tennis court, private parking, mediterranean park. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Castello Di San Marco Charming Hotel And Spa
- Castello Di San Marco Calatabiano
- Castello Di San Marco Charming Hotel & SPA Sicily/Calatabiano