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All reviews former monastery principe cerami star michelin restaurant central courtyard leading hotels of the world beautiful hotel linen sheets classic room sea view breakfast buffet public rooms old world charm little things luxury hotel gardens are beautiful shower curtain the main street
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Reviewed 21 October 2011

My partner and l went to the San Domenica Palace Hotel on Sicily as it was a place we had always wanted to go. The drive from the airport took us past Mount Etna, which was still snow capped in late July. Arriving at the hotel we walked along the impressive approach to the hotel's main entrance and the reception desk just inside to the right. A large vase full of umbrellas just inside the door would hopefully go unused during our stay.
We were shown to a room in the newer part of the hotel. It was spacious though not quite what we had anticipated given the hotel's original use as a monastery. All was ok until about 4am when we were woken by the noise of the glass recycling collection emptying the skips of- we assume- an adjacent restaurant outside the hotel walls. Complaint brought an upgrade to what we had hoped for, a smaller room in the original part of the hotel that had formerly been a monastic cell. Intimate and comfortable with a direct outlook over the magnificent gardens, we were very happy.
The staff and facilities here are superb. Prossecho? and the full range of top end continental breakfast produce from cold meats through cheeses and bread, fruit, to cooked items and fruit juice/yoghurt and honey, to say nothing of croissants and jam, which we saw one young man demolish 6 of at a sitting. We did make the mistake of eating a pasta lunch the same day we had booked the Chateaubriand for two in the hotel restaurant. Again top end effort and l struggled to get through the lightest of starters and first course. When the main event arrived it was huge, seemingly almost half a cow between the two of us, with vegetables in supporting roles. Even the wine list, and this runs to a bound volume, best investigated the week before you go to the hotel if you get the chance!!! Washing the meal down with a fine red, Massimo and the crew were polite and attentive given the effort it was taking to do justice to their main couse. Still lesson learned in my case, it will not happen again. The gardens are laid out immediately beside the hotel and afford shaded nooks and seats among the borders. The pool is on a lower level and there were plenty of sun loungders as the week was initially poor weatherwise and people hadn't got into the habit of using the pool. The hotel, as might be expected, is a living museum, with frescoes and corridors to do "The Name of The Rose" proud and it doesn't take too much imagination to rewind several hundred years to the days it was a monastery. A central courtyard tops it off where bar staff patrol on a regular basis and anyone caught without a drink is invited to have one, though all in the politest of ways!! All in all we were sad to leave, and although the walking and historic sites had been great, we will be back, if only to do justice to the Chateaubriand for two. Yes the umbrellas were used in case you were wondering, the weather at the start of the week was pretty bad.

Room Tip: The older part of the hotel clearly offers more atmosphere. Rooms on the Taormina side run the risk of noise intrusion from activity outside the hotel, or so it was when we stayed.
  • Stayed: July 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank philpoole
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 19 October 2011

We stayed at this hotel for 4 nights in October and it was an amazing experience. I booked a 'classic' room in the old part of the hotel as these rooms were the former monks' cells and I felt from the pictures that they had more character. When we arrived we were told we had been upgraded to a superior room, which I knew would be in the newer part of the building and which I had deliberately tried to avoid! However, when we were shown to the room, I was bowled over. We had a wonderful, large, terrace on 2 levels with views of the Greek Theatre, the town and the sea. It was truly spectacular and more than made up for lack of history in the room itself. The room was nice. Excellent bed and linens. Fantastic toiletries in full size bottles that were replenished throughout the stay. Turndown service at night. All in all, we felt we were pampered.

The gardens were beautifully laid out with discreet seating throughout. Breakfast was served in the restaurant or on the terrace according to the weather and, whilst it was buffet, it was extremely extensive. The staff were particularly good at ensuring items were topped up long before they ran out.

All in all, we had a wonderful time and enjoyed our experience in the hotel. We didn't eat dinner or go to the bar because the prices were extremely high but being in the middle of Taormina this didn't cause us any real problems and we found plenty of interesting places to eat and drink.

Room Tip: Rooms in the new wing have large excellent terraces and views.
  • Stayed: October 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank JB37
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 5 October 2011

A stunningly beautiful, historic hotel. We walked to our rooms past a large central garden courtyard, and up a beautiful wide staircase. Our room, one of the former monks' cells in the old monastery wing, was off a wide corridor, which still retains the sense of privacy and peace that must have existed when San Domenico was a monastery.
There are tranquil cloisters, and wonderful gardens with stunning views of Taormina and Etna, planted with citrus and palm trees, bougainvillea, lovely flowering shrubs and flowers which looked good even in September after the heat of a Sicilian summer. To get to the dining area - a massive former refectory - with a beautiful terrace, shaded by sun umbrellas, where we ate breakfast, you pass through the sort of incredibly spacious and beautifully furnished rooms you find in stately homes. I felt really privileged to be staying there.

Practical stuff!
Rooms: We (mother and adult daughter) stayed 10 nights and had a superior double, (room 220), the best we could afford, with sea and garden-view and views of Etna. Quite small, with a small balcony - big enough for two to stand, one to sit. A bit short of surfaces to range our bits and pieces, as a large flat-screen tv, tray with glasses and hotel info folders took up quite a bit of space on the one table.
Talked to guests in the modern wing and they had bigger rooms and balconies, but I guess you get what you pay for.

Beds: an absolute dream - the most comfortable I've ever slept in (most hotel beds in Italy are hard!)

Bathroom, a tad small, but very nice, Good shower, (not a fixed head, thank heavens) masses of lovely bath gels and body cream etc. (in big tubes, not the usual little travel size) Soft towels, bath robes and slippers.

Plenty of hanging and drawer space in a large wardrobe in the entrance.

Room service and cleaning immaculate. Sensibly, they provide cards so you can request for bedding to be changed or not, when you wish, depending on how environmentally conscientious you are.

The only thing I would complain about was the air conditioning, which was rather noisy - other guests in this wing said the same, though the modern wing was ok apparently. As the temperature was in the 30's we needed the high setting. However at least it was a consistent sound and we got used to it, so after the first night our sleep wasn't disturbed. There was no other noise from inside or outside - it's the quietest hotel I've ever stayed in.

Breakfasts - what can I say?! Only superlatives... Serve yourself with everything you could ever want cooked English-style, Sicilian-style, French-style etc. Mushrooms, bacon, three types of sausage, grilled cherry tomatoes. Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs - mmm! Cold meats. Delicious rösti potatoes. Salads. Fruit. If you like honey, there's lemon, cardoon or mixed flower honey - all exquisite. Breads and croissants of every variety. Fresh orange-juice, teas of every type. I drool thinking of it all.
And tea or coffee served on a beautiful terrace overlooking the sea, by perfectly-trained waiters. Bliss!

The pool is actually bigger than it appears, and very pleasant for a gentle swim. There is a shaded section as well as sun umbrellas, which we were quite grateful for in the heat.

We didn't eat in the restaurant in the evenings, as I'd been told it was expensive. I rather regret now that we didn't have one meal there, as I think it was for us a once-in-a-lifetime treat to stay in a hotel of this category.

It is a place I shall remember all my life, for its setting and class, the sheer beauty of the building and gardens, for the exquisite service and charm of the staff, and for those breakfasts...

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled with family
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4  Thank barabell
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 29 September 2011

The hotel is set in the loveliest gardens and there is a beautiful courtyard with pianist in the evening, the restaurant on the terrace was very good and all the staff were very professional and helpful. The rooms were classically finished and only a little tired with the bathroom needed a little updating but was still lovely.

Can't wait to go back

  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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1  Thank michyuk
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 23 September 2011

We have just returned from 7 days at this beautiful hotel and the view we had from our balcony the most beautiful view we have ever had. This old monastery convert over 100 years ago to a hotel deserves it 5 star rating. Breakfast was good, we liked the buffet style. Lunch we were told also good. Dinner was expensive but so is everything , do not go if you cannot afford €17 for a G and T.
The shower was the only thing not 5 star, we did not complain , however everything was so good , we decided not to.

Room Tip: We could only afford the superior double , but view was so good this small room was acceptable.
  • Stayed: September 2011, travelled as a couple
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Thank shirtmaker46
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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