Taormina, the chic resort town for high rollers seeking Sicilian dolce vita. It’s glitzy yet authentic, historic but always up with the trends. The vistas don’t lie. Views onto the sea, onto Mt Etna, or just views onto people (Taormina is brilliant for people watching).
Oh, and the Mafia? Let’s look beyond stereotypes please. We’re not talking about Lucky Luciano here, we’re talking about how lucky you feel visiting Sicily. Plus The Godfather filming locations are the most touristic places in Sicily. And do you want to spend your holiday on pilgrimage to villages famous for bad guys.
Sicily has so much more and the welcome is a lot warmer outside Corleone. In Taormina you’ll find secrets galore.
And to explore Taormina you’ll need a great hotel. These are our favourite options in the Sicilian resort town.
Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo
Perched on the mountain, next to the ancient Greek theatre, Grand Hotel Timeo has one of Europe’s most enviable hotel locations. You get views galore, the bustling Taormina town nearby, plus absolute tranquility in the grounds. This is one of Italy’s true grand dame hotels, old-fashioned, old-world, with all the charm updated by Belmond’s 21st-century amenities.
Four Seasons San Domenico Hotel
This 14th-century former monastery and convent is a couple of steps from Taormina’s mazy medieval streets. Since 1896 it’s been a grand hotel, boasting history and class that attracted guests like Audrey Hepburn, King Edward VII and dozens of world leaders. Then it fell into a bit of a decline.
So we can’t wait to visit in 2022 because Four Seasons took over and reopened the San Domenico Hotel on July 1st 2021. The iconic hotel brand has brought their swagger and style to an already iconic hotel – try a suite with private terrace and plunge pool for the best views.
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Villa Sant Andrea, Belmond
Belmond’s Villa Sant Andrea is just as immaculate as Grand Hotel Timeo, although here the luxury is more understated. Its beachfront location is far below any traffic noise, yet it’s easy to get into the town via the funicular or complimentary shuttle. Developed from an early 20th-century Sicilian villa, this is a very elegant and grown-up-looking hotel, that also has a good kids’ club and family facilities.
Villa Ducale and Villa Carlotta
These two boutique hotels are also converted Sicilian villas. So there’s brilliant history, but in contrast to the Four Seasons and Belmond properties, both Ducale and Carlotta have remained very small. Although they are both members of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, they do not have the necessary amenities to be five-star graded.
Other Superb Sicily Hotels
Mazzaro Sea Palace is also a five-star hotel on the beach below Taormina. However, the rooms are small and there’s not too much to write home about. For a beach stay in Taormina, go with Villa Sant Andrea. Or combine Taormina town with another beach destination in Sicily.
In our opinion, Rocco Forte’s Verdura Resort is the best beachfront Sicily resort.
Here there’s golf, romance, space for kids and some of the most impressive facilities in Europe.
Just note that Verdura is out in the middle of nowhere, which is a highlight but also a drawback for some. If you prefer boutique hotels in vibrant surroundings consider Villa Igiea, Rocco Forte’s other Sicilian property. It’s a fabled Palermo palace that’s reopened after a stunning makeover.
We can also arrange private villa rentals in and around Taormina, or in other locations across Sicily. And keep watching our online magazine, as we have a lot more to share about Sicily in the coming months.