Maxim B&B

Palermo, Sicily, Italy Book from Eur72

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A well-priced, well-placed B&B, with 5 stylish rooms and elegant décor; the perfect antidote to vibrant, gritty Palermo
Once an Arab emirate then the seat of Norman kings, Palermo is a treasure trove of crumbling palazzi, ornate churches, evocative street markets and chic restaurants. It’s well worth exploring, but after a day wandering its colourful and often chaotic streets, you’ll want to retreat to a soothing city sanctuary.

Tucked away on the 6th floor of an unassuming apartment block, sandwiched between Palermo’s old and new quarters, Maxim B&B offers just that. Step out of the lift and you’re greeted by a smart white door, which opens to reveal a sophisticated reception area filled with potted orchids and lanterns. Beyond are 5 guest rooms in calming tones of taupe and dove grey, plus a pretty breakfast room where pastries and fruit are laid out each morning. The man behind it all is affable owner Max, who runs the place with laid-back charm. He’s full of suggestions on what to see and do, and describes the B&B as “not work, but a pleasure”. There's no restaurant or guest lounge, but what it lacks in facilities it makes up for with convenience and style in spades. As Palermo pads go, that’s hard to beat.

Highs

  • Great value in a pricey city
  • A very central location, just off the main axis of Via Roma and within ambling distance of sights, shops, restaurants and the seafront
  • A private, intimate feel - we only saw other guests at breakfast, and were given a front door key so we could slip in and out as we pleased
  • The sleek décor is offset by quirky, rustic touches (tongue-and-groove panelling, white wooden furniture). We particularly liked the collection of vintage clocks in the breakfast room
  • Rooms come with snazzy chromatic lighting and pre-tuned music systems, and there’s an honesty bar stocked with wine and liquors, plus help-yourself tea and coffee

Lows

  • Reception is usually empty. Make sure Max knows your planned arrival time (call him when you’re an hour away, too); even then, you might have to let yourself in
  • No meals other than breakfast, but that’s hardly a problem in foodie Palermo
  • Rooms could do with instructions explaining how to use the various gadgets, and in recent months we've heard mixed reports on their cleanliness
  • Palermo is a busy city, so you’ll hear some street noise
  • The lift up to the B&B is very small and a little rickety

Best time to go

Palermo is at its balmy best in spring (March-May) and autumn (September-October), although the weather can also be splendid in winter. Summer (June-August) is generally hot and sticky in this chaotic city, but it brings a series of festivals with open-air performances - see our destination guide for more information.

Our top tips

Check out what’s happening at the Teatro Massimo, the third largest opera house in Europe and just a few minutes’ walk from the B&B. As well as operas, classical music and ballets, it plays host to occasional rock, pop and jazz concerts. Daily guided tours (some in English) are also available.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 5
  • Breakfast only (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
Room: Room 4 (suite)

Rooms

Calm, understated elegance is the theme in the 5 rooms, mostly decorated in muted taupes and greys with white wooden furniture, large windows and gauzy linen curtains that let in plenty of light (there are blinds, too, to ensure a good night’s sleep). Dotted around are vintage mirrors, potted plants and tasteful prints.

We stayed in Room 4, the only suite. As well as a double bedroom, it had a lounge with a double sofabed, a shower room, a separate toilet, and a hallway with plenty of storage space. It was a lovely cocoon away from the bustling city, and we slept soundly in the comfy bed.

The other rooms are all standard doubles. Our favourites were Rooms 3 and 5, both of which have four-poster beds. The former is a soothing beige affair with abstract art, cacti and French doors opening onto a Juliet balcony; the latter is the smallest room but also the most colourful, with cherry-red walls, pretty toile de Jouy linen and framed sketches of ballerinas. Rooms 1 and 2 come with sleek leather beds and black and white photography, and can be set up as twins on request; both can take an extra bed, and Room 1 has a balcony.

All have air conditioning, safe boxes, WiFi, flat-screen TVs and minibars stocked with soft drinks (you’ll find glasses in the breakfast room, along with wine, liquors, tea and coffee). Bathrooms, decked out in beige or black mosaic tiles, have walk-in showers (no tubs), glass sinks, slippers, shampoo and hairdryers, plus coloured chromatic lighting that you can change to suit your mood. You also get in-room music systems playing pre-selected chill-out tunes, with speakers in both bedroom and bathroom; the only things missing are full-length mirrors and instructions explaining how to use the various gadgets.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Honesty bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Pre-tuned music system
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

A simple buffet is laid out each morning in the small breakfast room. It’s a typical Italian spread, with a selection of pastries, cakes and jams, plus yoghurt, cereal, fruit, salami and cheese, and bread to toast. Cappuccinos, espressos and teas are served at your table.

No other meals are available at the B&B, but there’s an honesty bar with wine and liquors, plus tea and coffee which you can help yourself to at any time. And there’s no shortage of restaurants nearby: we wandered around the corner to contemporary wine bar-cum-trattoria Vino e Pomodoro (Via Principe del Belmonte), where we dined on delicious platters of grilled vegetables and caponata, followed by spaghetti with a creamy walnut sauce.

If you want to splash out, head to Gagini (Via Cassari, near the seafront) for a romantic candlelit interior with exposed stone walls. The short, seasonal menu focuses on delicately cooked fish and seafood; the ceviche-like trio of marinated swordfish, tuna and prawns is highly recommended, as is the linguini with clams.

Also worth trying are Il Mirto e la Rosa (Via Principe di Granatelli) and Cucina Papoff (Via Isidoro La Lumia), both a couple of minutes’ walk from the B&B and offering typical Sicilian fare. And for drinks and light meals served up with lovely views of the San Domenico church, head to the roof terrace of the La Rinascente department store, a 5-minute stroll down Via Roma.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity: Cathedral

Activities

  • Discover Palermo - a fascinating city of decay and splendour in equal measure. You’ll find shabby churches hiding Baroque interiors, ornate palazzi with faded façades, and labyrinthine alleys strung with laundry. If you don’t fancy exploring on foot, you can hire a horse-drawn carrozza for a leisurely tour

  • Visit the Norman Palace, now home to the Sicilian Regional Assembly. Stroll through its arcaded courtyard and stately rooms, and marvel at the Arabian carved ceiling, gold-embellished frescoes and bejewelled arches in the Palatine Chapel

  • Wander around the cathedral, another imposing Norman-Arab-Neoclassical hybrid

  • Flex your credit card along Via della Libertà and neighbouring Via Enrico Parisi, both lined with upscale boutiques

  • You’ll find shopping of a more raucous kind at the Vucciria, Ballarò and del Capo street markets - must-sees as much for the people-watching, banter and atmosphere as for the chance to buy fresh fish, meat and veg

  • Stroll along the seafront, just a few minutes’ walk from the B&B, where yachts bob on the water and families congregate for evening ice creams

  • Browse Sicilian art at the Palazzo Abatellis art gallery, or view classical marbles at the archaeological museum

  • Visit the spooky Catacombe dei Cappuccini (a 25-minute walk or a short taxi ride), which house the mummified remains of more than 8,000 Palermitans from the 16th-18th centuries. They're not for the faint-hearted: some of the bodies are so well preserved that they look almost animated

  • Escape to the long, sandy beach at Mondello (take bus 806 from Piazza Castelnuovo, just around the corner from the B&B)

  • Bar-hop in the historic Kalsa district, then take in live rock, jazz or blues at Candelai (Piazza della Rivoluzione, on Via Candelai)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Carriage rides
  • Historical sites
  • Live music
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Theatre

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

The suite (Room 4) is best suited to families as it has a separate lounge with a sofabed that can be used free of charge. Baby cots can be added to all rooms, and Rooms 1 and 2 can take an extra bed for a supplement. Note that all rooms have showers only (no tubs), and there's little communal space.

Kid Friendly: La Cala

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
7/
Food
8/
Service
8/
Value
8/
Overall

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