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San Domenico Palace Hotel 4.5

Taormina, Province of Messina, Sicily

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Housed in former monastery with cloister and a beautiful chapel still intact
  • Many rooms have private balconies or terraces, while certain suites have outdoor hot tubs
  • Shuttle service to beaches and within walking distance of town
  • Stunning grounds with large courtyards and gardens, and views of the bay and Mount Etna
  • Hotel has a two-star Michelin restaurant, plus two other dining options
  • Beautiful outdoor pool with pool bar
  • On-site spa offers facials, manicures, and various body treatments
  • 24-hour business center
  • Small fitness center, with a handful of cardio machines
  • Free on-site parking

Cons

  • Prices are high
  • Fee for spotty Wi-Fi throughout
  • At least a 20-minute drive to nearest beach
  • Watch out for twin beds pushed together 
  • Some restaurants require reservations and a dress code (a pro for some)
  • Pool is a little small

Bottom Line

This luxury hotel is in a renovated Dominican monastery and offers stunning views of Mount Etna and Taormina Bay. The hotel is surrounded by colorful flowering gardens and manicured courtyards. One interesting feature is the chapel still intact from the hotel's days as a monastery. There are an outdoor pool, a spa, and three restaurants -- one with two Michelin stars.102 rooms range from Classic accommodations, which overlook the cloister and the town, to several categories of suites with private outdoor hot tubs and terraces and multiple bathrooms. All are decorated with lush fabrics, beautiful lantern-style lighting, and carved wood furniture. Prices are high, and there's a charge for Wi-Fi. 

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Scene

Gorgeous gardens, a beautiful chapel, and decor that pays homage to the hotel's history

This historic property, which consists of a Garden Wing from the 15th century and a Grand Hotel Wing that was added in 1896, has been updated but still retains many features of its former life as a Dominican monastery. Elegant decor, refined details -- such as arched ceilings, beautifully painted walls, vintage furnishings, and religious relics -- can be found at every turn. On some evenings, there's piano music in the cloister. The front lobby sets the tone of refined comfort, with beautiful vintage furniture, comfortable seating, and religious paintings. As guests make their way through the hotel, they'll find a beautiful chapel, with portions of the original ceiling frescoes still intact. Large, arched windows look out onto a gorgeous courtyard filled with flowered trees and places to sit. The grounds are magnificent, with stunning gardens, vine-covered walkways, and brightly colored flower beds.

Location

A quiet, private location that overlooks the sea but is still close to town and many sights

Although the hotel feels private and isolated, it's only a 10-minute walk to Taormina's historic center and a short distance to many popular sights in the area. Here are a few approximate distances:

  • Nine-minute walk to Cathedral of Taormina
  • 19-minute drive to Taormina Archaeological Museum
  • 10-minute walk to Badia Vecchia
  • 15-minute walk to Baroque Fountain
  • 15-minute walk to Greek Theater (Teatro Greco)
  • 22-minute drive to Giardini Naxos Beach
  • Eight-minute walk to Palazzo dei Duchi di Santo Stefano
  • 52-minute drive to Catania Fontanarossa Airport

Rooms

Beautifully decorated rooms and suites, with elegant furniture, intricate details, and for the most part: amazing views

These elegant rooms are tastefully decorated, and look as if a a lot of thought went into their decor. Silky patterned drapes cover the floor-to-ceiling windows, the dark wood furniture has intricate carvings, and beautiful lanterns hang from the ceilings. Classic Rooms overlook the cloister or the town, Double Superior Rooms offer views of the garden, the bay, or Mount Etna, and Deluxe Rooms and Executive Rooms come with balconies or private terraces with views of the bay or the Greek Roman theater. The Garden Room has an outdoor heated hot tub, a living room, and two bathrooms. For more space, four categories of suites are also available with separate sitting rooms -- one has a large, furnished terrace, while another has a patio with lounge chairs, couches, and a hot tub. All rooms have minibars, flat-screen TVs with satellite channels, and Molton Brown toiletries in the modern bathrooms. Watch out for twin beds pushed together to make a double. 

Features

Three restaurants, a spa, pool, business center, and small fitness center

The hotel has three restaurants, including the two Michelin-star Principe Cerami, which serves a refined Sicilian menu on a large balcony with breathtaking views of the water. This is the most formal restaurant -- there is a dress code and reservations are required. Les Bougainvillées has a dress code as well, and is set in an elegant room with large windows with plush curtains, chandeliers, and giant framed mirrors, and also serves as the breakfast room. The Blooming Perle Terrasse sits under a covered pergola next to the pool, and is open only during the summer, serving local dishes and freshly caught fish. There's a spa on-site that offers facials, manicures, and various body treatments. The gorgeous outdoor pool is on the smaller side, and surrounded by sun loungers and a pool bar. There's another bar inside, a small fitness room, and a 24-hour business center. Expect to pay for spotty Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. Parking on-site is free.

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Address

Piazza San Domenico 5, Taormina 98039, Italy