Cambiocavallo

near Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy
Book from GBP Book from £68 per night

Cambiocavallo

near Pozzallo, Sicily, Italy

Minimalist hotel with pool occupying an 18th-century post house in the deep south, between the sea and the Baroque town of Modica

Minimalist hotel with pool occupying an 18th-century post house in the deep south, between the sea and the Baroque town of Modica

Cambiocavallo – literally ‘change of horses’, a reference to its 18th-century beginnings as a post house – is a humble 20-room hotel, whose original limestone walls alternate with bold contemporary washes of lavender and raspberry. It lies on an agricultural plain in the deep south of Sicily, a fascinating zone of dramatic limestone gorges, magnificent Baroque towns and endless sandy beaches thrashed by breakers.

Hot dry winds make Africa seem but a breath away, a feeling reinforced by cool minimalist rooms, shady bamboo-roofed terraces, geometric Arabian gardens and a stylish teardrop-shaped pool. The hotel is designed and owned by local architects, its charming staff have a genuine desire to make your stay as comfortable as possible. It would suit couples wanting a quiet retreat from which to explore the area, its fine restaurants and its beaches.

Highs

  • High-spec bedrooms with the comfiest pillows we've seen in Sicily
  • Charming Italian, French and American staff, who do their job with the air of hosts
  • Exquisite decorative touches – a leaf of prickly pear in a cubic vase, a waist-high glass wedge full of almonds – root the hotel firmly in its environment
  • Breakfast is brought to your terrace at no charge – a lovely start to the day
  • There are 2 Blue Flag beaches at Pozzallo, 5km from the hotel, with golden sands and clear seas (and some ugly development)

Lows

  • Our breakfast, though beautifully styled, had some disappointing cakes and fruit, though we gather that has improved
  • No kids are permitted in high season (July and August)
  • Dinners are currently by prior arrangement only, and you'll need to drive 10 mins to reach the nearest restaurants
  • You are not allowed to bring in food and drink from outside the hotel
  • There can be smells of silage from the nearby fields

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are the best times to go, although the weather can also be splendid in winter. Summer can be incredibly hot in these parts, and local beaches get very busy. The Modica chocolate festival is held annually in March/April or October/November, and the honey festival at Sortino is in October.

Our top tips

You can easily combine a stay here with a trip to Malta: Virtu Ferries makes the 90-minute crossing from Pozzallo most days in summer.

Great for...

Beach
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 20 rooms
  • Breakfast (+ light lunch and dinner on request)
  • Over 8s only in high season; all ages welcome at other times
  • Closed: 1 January - 23 March
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • Beach Nearby
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Car recommended
  • Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • WiFi
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The suites, up a flight of steps on the first floor of the main house, have minimalist four-poster beds in oak-wenge, laid with white sheets and perhaps the most comfortable pillows in Sicily, set at a stylish diagonal.

In stark contrast to the rustic original house, the former stables have been transformed into concrete cubist rooms that neatly curve around the centerpiece pool. The uniform design and manicured lawns resemble a 1950s American cul-de-sac, but inside each room has a unique edge. The deluxe rooms feature ceilings made of oak beams and bamboo, traditional in this part of Sicily. The grand deluxe rooms are the latest to be added and have contemporary, slightly corporate styling with leather and metal double beds and abstract wall art. Sliding glass doors open onto shaded terraces, looking out over the aquamarine droplet-shaped pool to the palms and orange trees of the geometric garden. Room 3 - the largest - is adapted for disabled guests.

Bathrooms, with modern fittings by Dolomite, are tiled from floor to ceiling in a warm sandy stone. The grand deluxe bathrooms take the top spot: super spacious with pale-washed oak surfaces, wall-to-wall mirrors and a separate loo. The suites have air-blown Jacuzzis, rooms 1 and 2 have baths, and the others have large square-headed showers.

Features include:

  • Hairdryer
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is served in the gardens and exquisitely styled on a high raspberry-red table set with mink and taupe linen, piled with fresh fruit, homemade cakes and biscuits, local honey (for which the nearby Iblei mountains are famous) and citrus jams made from the fruit in the garden. There are cold cuts and cheeses, organic eggs and bread for those who prefer a savoury start to the day.

The snack and light lunch menu largely consists of pasta dishes, salads, and sandwiches like toasted ham and cheese, plus fruit, cakes, salami and cheese. take a picnic lunch on your terrace.

Dinner is available if requested in advance (at breakfast or before arrival), expect a simple, daily changing menu of meat and fish dishes, with ingredients being largely seasonal and sourced locally. The team takes extra care to cater for dietary requirements too, but best to let them know of any well in advance.

Otherwise you should be prepared to drive to Pozzallo (about 10 minutes) or Modica (20 minutes), or one of the other nearby towns. Recommended restaurants include the rustic Osteria dei Sapori Perduti in Modica, Michelin-starred Duomo and Locanda Don Serafino in Ragusa, La Giara in Portopalo, Taverna La Cialoma in Marzamemi, and Crocifisso in Noto.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Light meals
  • Vegetarian options
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the Unesco-listed Baroque towns of Modica, Ragusa, Noto, Ispica and Scicli, all within about half an hour's drive; the cathedral at Noto was recently and beautifully restored, with the help of Cambiocavallo's architect owners

  • Have a beach day at the hotel's own Lido Marza; there's a buzzy lounge bar serving food all day and the unspoilt nature around it makes it feel nicely secluded. Or head to other sandy beaches such as 12km-long Santa Maria del Focallo near Ispica or one of the 2 Blue Flag beaches near Pozzallo (don't plan on spending much time in Pozzallo itself: it's an unprepossessing, semi-industrial port town). At low tide, brave the surf and walk out to the Isola dei Correnti at Portopalo, where the Ionian Sea meets the Strait of Sicily

  • Eat fresh fish at Taverna La Cialoma in pretty Marzamemi, surrounded by the crumbling buildings of the ancient tuna fishery

  • Walk through the nature reserves of Fiume Irminio and Vendicari, for bird-watching and unspoilt sandy beaches

  • Hike along the dramatic limestone gorge of Cava d’Ispica and see the cave dwellings and churches of the Parco Forza near Ispica

  • Go on a tasting tour of the chocolate shops in Modica, or come for the annual chocolate festival (in March/April or October/November; dates vary)

  • Or visit the honey festival at Sortino, held every October

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Birdwatching
  • Boat trips
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Plantlife / flora
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Only kids over 8 are permitted in July and August, at all other times children are very welcome. We think the peaceful ambiance means parents of young children might feel self-conscious about the amount of noise they make. Extra beds and baby cots can be added to most rooms.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Both Suite categories can have up to two children sharing with parents on extra beds; the double rooms can take a baby cot or an extra bed.

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Garden

Families Should Know:

The grounds are safe, as cars are parked outside and the gates are locked, but the pool has no shallow end

Distances:

  • Airport: 50 minutes (Comiso) or 1/1.5 hours (Catania)
  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Cambiocavallo is between the towns of Modica and Pozzallo, in southeast Sicily. It's 4km from the coast.

By Air
Fly to Comiso (50km away) or, if you are touring the whole of Sicily, into Catania (115km away) or Palermo (310km away).

From the Airport
There are occasional buses to Pozzallo, but you'll probably want to hire a car for your stay (see below).

By Car
For car hire see our car rental recommendations. From Catania it is about 2 hours by road to the hotel, following the SS115 via Siracusa and Noto.

If you're driving from southern mainland Italy, take the regular ferry from Villa San Giovanni to Messina (every 20 minutes, with a 20-minute sailing time) and then follow the A18 motorway south to Catania (155km / 1.5 hours) before picking up the SS115.

It is a little tricky to find so make sure you take our directions with you (provided automatically when you confirm a booking through i-escape).

Airports:

  • Comiso 50.0 km CIY
  • Catania Fontanarossa 115.0 km CTA

Other:

  • Beach 4.0 km
  • Shops 4.0 km
  • Restaurant 4.0 km

Rates for Cambiocavallo

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