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San Domenico Palace, Taormina, Sicily
A grand luxe hotel in the mediaeval town of Taormina, this Four Seasons hotel is set in a former monastery and has a wealth of original features, majestic rooms with private plunge pools, five-star service, relaxing massages and a fine dining restaurant with exquisite tasting menus and views across to the smoking summit of Mount Etna. The palatial building, formerly a monastery and convent, is perched on a cliff top, and has welcomed high society since it opened in 1896 - celebrities including Audrey Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor have stayed here. If it looks somewhat familiar, it might be because season two of White Lotus, the celebrated HBO series, was set here.
Rooms available from £1,361.38 per night
This is a dramatic location, with panoramic views of the Ionian Sea and smoking Mount Etna, Europe's most active volcano. Behind is the maze of narrow streets that make up the town of Taormina with their many bars, restaurants and boutiques.
By plane: direct flights to Catania take 3 hours from London. The hotel is an hour's drive. Paid on-site parking available. Book flights to Catania.
THE LOOK AND FEEL
This former 14th-century convent and monastery is full of characterful original features - vaulted ceilings, fresco paintings and internal courtyards - as well as choice pieces of antique furniture, old-master paintings and dramatic floral displays. The cliffside infinity pool is a thing of beauty and a tranquil spot for lounging.
The service here is impeccable, from the porters on the gate who will park your car to the pool attendant who will bring cold towels and fresh fruit. Facilities are varied and include a bijou spa for massages and facials, a small boutique store, a gym and an outdoor infinity pool with views of Mount Etna.
- Swimming pool
- Fitness centre
- On-site parking
- Free Wi-Fi
BED AND BATH
Rooms are palatial, and some have private terraces with plunge pools overlooking the Ionian sea. Parquet floors, panelled walls and antique mirrors add elegance, while lofty ceilings and marble bathrooms create opulence. It's hard to believe that many of these rooms began life as monk's cells.
Room types: Superior, Deluxe, Premium, Junior Suite, Executive Suite, Etna Suite, Teatro Suite, Princess Cecelie Suite, San Domenico Suite, Royal Suite
Key amenities: ensuite bathroom with toiletries, bathrobes, hairdryer, coffee maker, TV, free Wi-Fi
FOOD AND DRINK
Breakfasts are lavish, eaten in the morning sunshine of the terrace, while lunches of pasta and pizza can be eaten by the pool. In the evening, order classic cocktails before tucking into a tasting menu of delectable local cuisine cooked with flourish and flair in Michelin-starred Principe Cerami.
Principe Cerami: Michelin-starred restaurant, Sicilian cuisine. Open daily for dinner. Tasting menu from €115.
Anciovi: poolside restaurant, Mediterranean seafood and cocktails. Open seasonally for lunch and dinner.