10 Luxury Hotels in Sicily for Fans of The White Lotus

San Domenico Palace – one of the best luxury hotels in Sicily and setting for the White Lotus – MARTINO DINI 2021/Martino Dini

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The HBO series White Lotus has certainly put Sicilian luxury hotel life in the spotlight, though you may be relieved (or not) to learn that the reality is much different. The guests are better dressed, the decor is fresher (those ghastly passion-killing testa di moro ceramic heads are rarer), and murders are unlikely. Indeed, Sicily has an extraordinary and original portfolio of luxury hotels, ranging from recently renovated grand hotels like Villa Igiea in Palermo and Palacio San Domenico in Taormina, where White Lotus series 2 was filmed, to luxury retreats in small islands, in vineyards, on the slopes of Mount Etna and in the bijou baroque city of Noto. Here are the best luxury hotels in Sicily.

Dating back to the 14th century, this magnificent former monastery, which has been a hotel since 1896, stands on the cliffs overlooking the Ionian Sea in Taormina, with Mount Etna to its right and the city’s ancient Greek theater to its left. Although Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts added a healthy dose of 21st-century luxury when it took over San Domenico, redecorating rooms in the 19th-century wing and adding private plunge pools to some of the terraces there, they’ve been careful to preserve the many impressive historical elements, from the courtyards filled with statues to the stone gate through which you enter. The charm that drew Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, Greta Garbo and Humphrey Bogart, among many other celebrities of its day, remains, as do the hotel’s on-screen ties, most recently as the setting for the Netflix series, The White. Lotus.

A sumptuous boutique hotel in the baroque heart of Noto, with unparalleled views of one of Sicily’s most extraordinary cityscapes. An elegant residence created as a feast for the eyes, where the ‘common spaces’, including the elegant reception hall, feel like rooms in a private house. The walls are a deep Pompeian red, a nod to both a favorite Roman wall painting and the traditional grey, cream and oxblood hydraulic tiles salvaged from the Aeolian Islands and used throughout the hotel. There are just nine rooms, each one different, ranging from spacious doubles to three enormous master suites, all with balconies; one has a ceiling with original Baroque frescoes. The friendly staff act like hosts rather than employees, exuding goodwill and enthusiasm, putting everyone at ease.

Sant’Andrea is imbued with good class and old-fashioned style, without being stuffy or old-fashioned. Although it is quite a large hotel (it has 71 rooms), the feeling is intimate and personal: think of an English country house by the Sicilian sea. The original 1919 villa forms the core of the hotel, with opulent but never ostentatious marble floors and staircases, while Baroque paintings and family heirlooms scattered throughout the light and airy lounge, reception hall and bar act as themes. of conversation instead of recreating a manor house. atmosphere. The hotel offers a free hourly shuttle to its sister hotel, the Timeo, in Taormina (below), making Sant’Andrea the ideal choice for anyone looking to combine the beach with sightseeing, shopping and dining in the city.

The term ’boutique hotel’ may have lost its meaning, but Seven Rooms Villadorata is the real McCoy, a devastatingly beautiful feast for the senses housed in a wing of Sicily’s most extravagant baroque palace. The Seven Rooms philosophy is to provide guests with everything they need within the privacy of their rooms: a carefully stocked mini bar, artisan teas and kettles, Nespresso coffee machine, while spacious bathrooms, with a wide variety of toiletries. Villadorata body washes made from natural Sicilian ingredients, make a long soak as relaxing as a spa treatment. Expect high ceilings, soaring windows with white shuttered doors and heavy linen drapes, original hydraulic tile floors, and on their extremely comfortable beds, delicately ruched white silk duvets and blue alpaca bedspreads.

An intimate country hotel with excellent food and charming staff, overlooking the sea over the exquisite vineyards of one of Sicily’s leading wine estates. There are 14 rooms, all spacious, with French windows opening onto terraces, terracotta tiled floors, subtle kilims and traditional Sicilian iron beds dressed in hand-sewn white Indian quilts. When the weather is nice, dinner and breakfast are served outdoors; when the weather is bad, you sit inside at a communal table, long and wide enough not to make conversation with the other guests obligatory. Cookery courses with the chef and wine tastings by members of the Planeta family offer a fascinating insight into the world of Sicilian food and wine. (Note: car rental is essential here, as the property is in a hard-to-reach corner of western Sicily.)

Halfway between Taormina and Catania, high on the eastern slopes of Mount Etna, where ancient vines sprout from the dark, lava-rich soil on dry-stone terraces, stands this rural hotel. The atmosphere is barefoot adventurous eco-chic, with the looming volcano conferring a special energy. Much of the food served for breakfast or dinner in the hotel’s beautiful and artistic restaurant, Locanda Nerello, is grown on the estate, and the part that isn’t is carefully sourced from smaller producers, mostly organic. Owner Coffa is an authority on the upcoming Etna wine scene and the estate now has its own 15-acre winery, with tastings of his own production and other Sicilian wines led by two in-house sommeliers.

This is a sophisticated haven on an Aeolian island, with a design that makes it virtually indistinguishable from the rest of the island towns. Its 27 rooms are spread out in individual whitewashed Aeolian-style houses, simple single-story cuboids, each with its own terrace, scattered around the wine estate and in the newly restored lighthouse (Faro) that gives the hotel its name. Architecture, landscaping and unerringly discreet service combine to create a place where guests can truly take a break from the world. In addition to the freshwater pool, there is a massage pavilion, a paddle tennis court, and a clubhouse. Chef Ludovico de Vivo applies eclectic creativity to both Sicilian and international traditions, with a fierce loyalty to local produce (including homegrown vegetables and salads from a garden above the pool and olive oil from Tasca d’ Almerita).

Nestled between Mount Etna and the sea, and with glimpses of both, what really makes this place special is the feeling of being far from the world, completely immersed in an exotic paradise. Rooms with plunge pools occupying spacious individual bungalows tucked away within subtropical gardens may make you think you’re in Bali; however, the hotel is a short drive from the Catania airport. The ‘eco lodges’ (bungalows) are huge, dimly lit and minimalist, with sliding glass doors that open onto a veranda shaded by greenery. The rooms of the main house bring a minimalist touch to the more traditional spaces, with natural stone, white tiles and shades of cream and pale green. Most have some private outdoor space, while the ‘Jacuzzi Exclusive’ suite has a terrace (with plunge pool) and views of the sea and Mount Etna.

Taormina can be overrun with tourists in high season, but there’s no denying how picturesque it is, and the Timaeus is just a few minutes’ walk from the main street and right next to the entrance to the magnificent 3rd-century Greek amphitheater a . It is one of the best luxury hotels in Sicily. The Timaeus was born in 1873 as a five-room guest house that occupied what is now the main hotel building and was popular with artists, writers and the European aristocracy. Belmond acquired the hotel in 2010 bringing with it its very high standards of service; from the porter who carries his luggage upon his arrival to the reception staff, everyone is reassuringly charming and courteous. There is a spa and heated pool in the beautiful gardens and plenty of terrace space, plus living rooms with huge windows from which to enjoy the magical views.

Restored to its former splendor by the family-run Rocco Forte Hotels, this Art Nouveau palace, originally designed by Ernesto Basile for the wealthy Florio family, overlooks the Gulf of Palermo. It offers 78 rooms and suites, two restaurants showcasing the rich cuisine of Sicily, a spa and a swimming pool. Much of the hotel extends onto terraces overlooking the gardens, where the Igiea Terrazza bar offers a perfect spot for a martini and both the poolside restaurant and main restaurant offer alfresco dining. The painted walls of the Basile Room, meanwhile, are not to be missed. The concierge team has created a series of itineraries that will take guests to any of Palermo’s eight UNESCO heritage sites or through the lively markets to shop for ingredients for a cooking lesson.

Frequent questions

Where was The White Lotus filmed?

The second series of The White Lotus was filmed on and around the northeast coast of Sicily. The Four Seasons hotel called San Domenico Palace was where most of the story took place, and is the location of the fictional ‘White Lotus’ hotel after which the series is named.

Can you stay at the white lotus hotel?

The White Lotus is not a real hotel, but of course you can stay in the Palace of San Domenico; however, you’ll need a hefty budget as, as the show suggests, it’s the sort of place high-end travelers book for a luxury holiday (with a starting room rate of around £1,000 a night).

Contributions from Mary Louisiana, Lee Marshall

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