Boutique hotels in Sicily
With temperatures still warm even in November, the beautiful island of Sicily is a great getaway choice for the majority of the year. From undiscovered beaches to Mount Etna and rural villages, the country offers something for everyone and Lulu has personally selected the best boutique hotels Sicily has to offer. Stylish, charming and with second-to-none service they all have the Chic Retreats seal of approval. Lulu's favourite boutique hotel on the slopes of Mount Etna is the contemporary 8 room Monaci delle Terre Nere which has a pretty pool and is just 10 minutes away from the sea.
Perhaps one of the best-known destinations in Sicily is the pretty town of Taormina in the north, which is an excellent base from which to visit sights including Mount Etna, the nearby town of Giardini-Naxos and Catania market, in the island’s second largest town. Stay at 26 room Hotel Villa Carlotta which serves the best breakast in Taormina or its smaller, sister but equally boutique Sicilian 17 room Hotel Villa Ducale. Villa Carlotta also has 3 luxury apartments next door if you want a bit more privacy. This boutique hotel in Sicily offers guests a complimentary shuttle service to the nearby private beach (where you pay a small fee to spend the day) and access to a health club a short distance away. For a larger luxury hotel experience in Taormina try Hotel Imperiale which has stunning views across the town and coastline, restaurant, pool and spa.
One of Taormina’s main sights is the Teatro Greco, the horseshoe-shaped ruins of a Roman theatre (it was founded by the Greeks but later rebuilt under Roman rule) which is used for summer arts and film festivals. The views over the countryside are magnificent but visit early or late to avoid the crowds. Other must-dos include strolling along the main avenue, Corso Umberto 1, to browse the designer boutiques and taking the lift down from the town to pebbly Mazzaro beach, then crossing a thin strip of sand to the explore the rocky islet of Isola Bella. End the day with dinner at Al Duomo where you can sit outside on the terrace and tuck into dishes such as fried squid with anchovies or braised lamb.
Palermo is a city of contrasts and will probably feature as a stop-off on most itineraries. You’ll find designer shops and bustling markets alongside crumbling buildings - but the unique mix is part of the Sicilian capital’s appeal. Shop on Via della Liberta and Via Errico Parisi, sleep in the historic centre at BB22 Palermo, a cool, contemporary boutique hotel in Sicily with 7 rooms, and eat ‘ravioli Norma’ with tomato and parmesan cheese flakes at Gagini restaurant. Santandrea restaurant, in Piazza Santandrea, is another popular trattoria serving up pasta and fresh seafood.
Syracuse and the surrounding area
If you want history, there’s plenty to be found in the south eastern city of Syracuse. The archaeological site is home to well-preserved Greek and Roman remains including a 5th-century BC theatre (it’s still used as the venue for an annual Greek festival) and a Roman amphitheatre. The nearby Archaeological Museum, which houses a collection of exhibits from all over the Syracuse area, is also worth a visit as is the tiny island of Ortigia, packed with ruins and remains and connected by three bridges (the highlight is the fountain of Arethusa).
If you intend to spend longer than a day in Syracuse, one of our boutique hotels in Sicily, Borgo Alveria in Noto Antica, is ideally located and comes with its own slice of history too. It’s a restored farmhouse built on the site of an ancient monastery surrounded by gardens, orchards and 19 hectares of land. From here, you can also drive down the coast to the famous Baroque towns of Scicli and Modica and the Cava Grande Natural Reserve, which has many small waterfalls and natural reservoirs for swimming. The towns of Noto and Ragusa are also known for their churches and palaces in the Baroque style: at the latter, be sure to book a table at Duomo, a 2 Michelin star restaurant in the old town where chef Ciccio Sultano puts a modern twist on regional seafood dishes and offers four different tasting menus. Many say it’s the best restaurant on the island.
Or, for another rural option, why not consider staying at Azienda Agricola Mandranova, which is located on a family farm and surrounded by olive groves in southern Palma di Montechiaro. It’s owned by Silvia and Giuseppe who will give you a tour of the olive grove and take you dolphin spotting on boat trips along the coast. Silvia’s cookery classes, where you can learn to make Sicilian pasta dishes with ingredients picked fresh from the garden, are a must.