“Chic self-catering apartments sleeping 2-7 and a delightful small hotel tucked away in a pretty valley, perfectly situated for southern Sicily’s best sights”
All rooms and apartments share the same appealing aesthetic: sleek, modern, simple and stylish. Polished limestone floors, white walls and high-quality textiles in neutral shades ensure the interiors never compete with the landscape outside. They’re comfortable and elegant, with deep armchairs and restful, airy bedrooms. Splashes of aubergine on bedcovers sit well with expanses of pink plaster, hessian panels and wooden rafters. Window shutters keep out the fierce Sicilian sun; some apartments have quirky wrought-iron chairs.
Bathrooms are luxurious, though, with honey-coloured marble and modern white suites. There are bathtubs in the apartments, but the hotel rooms have showers only (except 3 of the Garden Deluxe Rooms). Toothbrushes, shower caps, sewing kits and toiletries are provided.
The hotel rooms are in the main building, the Casale Antico. Nine Superior Rooms and the spacious Superior Deluxe Room have double or twin beds and panoramic views from the first floor; the five ground-floor Garden Deluxe Rooms have private terraces with table and chairs, and can be joined together for families.
The apartments have a wonderful feeling of space. Five are set in the estate’s old villa, closest to the road (though noise isn’t a problem), and have a double and twin bedroom plus a sofabed, sleeping up to 5. These all have private terraces or courtyards; Donnafugata also has a garden (great for children). Particularly private are the split-level Olive Tree, with a large kitchen, and Gelsomino, with quaint touches such as exposed stone walls and carved niches for bedside tables. Ibiscus and Carob Tree only have corner kitchens in their living rooms, though the latter has stunning elevated views.
The other 2 apartments sit in stone buildings in the grounds and sleep up to 7. Kamarina and Ibla, where we stayed, has 2 doubles and a twin. Both have 3 bathrooms and large terraces with lovely views. We loved our open-plan living area, with sofas at one end and a dining table at the other - even with 7 people, there would be plenty of room to sprawl out. The true test of comfort is a longer stay, however, and it remained a pleasure to return to after several days.
There are other rustic hotels and self-catering options in this part of Sicily, but few have such a superb restaurant on site. Cavalonga is blessed with I Paladini, with lovely valley and garden views. The name comes from the painting covering the back wall of the chic dining area - a stylish rendition of soldiers from the Middle Ages by the owner’s wife, celebrated artist Laura d’Andrea.
Dinner is available from 8-10pm four/five nights a week (check prior to arriving). The excellent Sicilian-style fixed menu (antipasto, primi, secondi, contorni and dolci) changes daily, see Rates - sometimes it’s fish-based, but vegetarians are always catered for. It’s more than the cheap eateries in Donnafugata, but you can sit back and enjoy the sunset with a glass of Nero d’Avola, without having to drive (the bar also serves cocktails and coffee).
Lunch from 1230-230pm (book the evening before or at breakfast) is delightful out on the terrace: salads, toasted sandwiches, soups and cold meats, and you can arrange to have it poolside. Afternoon tea is served from the bar at any time, with delicious cakes and pastries.
Breakfast (included in the rates for hotel guests and available for a charge for those in the apartments, see Rates) is a generous spread of fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurt, superb cold meats, Provola cheese (the local ricotta), sweet baby plum tomatoes, artisan home-made jams and honeys, and excellent Sicilian sweet pastries plus croissants and breads for toasting. Eggs are cooked on request, and you can have continental breakfast delivered to your room - ideal for honeymooners (who are offered a basket of fruit on arrival).
Self-catering in the apartments is easy. The kitchens are a little small for cooking on a grand scale, but there’s everything you need to prepare dinner: kettles, pots, dishwashers and china in bold colours. Piles of attractive serving bowls are useful for those self-catering in lazy style, with salads, meats and cheeses. Note no basic ingredients are supplied but there’s a good supermarket 8 minutes’ drive away towards Ragusa (staff will give you directions).
And don't forget you're in a gastronomic part of Sicily, so there are plenty of options within driving distance if you want to eat out (book ahead at weekends) - click here for details. And finally, there are cooking lessons with the chef on request if you want to cook Sicilian-style back home, see Rates.
Children are warmly welcomed here and it’s a great place for families, with spacious apartments and plenty of room to run around in the grounds. The Piscine Irminio is great for children and both pools are covered by lifeguards. Cots and extra beds can be provided, and babysitting is available. Teens may find a rural retreat less exciting but there are beaches close by, lots of fascinating history and watersports on the coast.
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
The Garden Deluxe Rooms in the hotel have great views down the valley and can be joined together for families, and the apartments have private terraces or courtyards, giving children a safe space to play outdoors - we made friends easily with the family next door. Note that the 'garden' descriptor is a bit of a misnomer but then 'gravel patio deluxe room' doesn't quite have the same ring.
Available by arrangement
Baby cots can be provided on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids menu in the restaurant, enough choices at breakfast to suit all
The pools have lifeguards, but parents should keep an eye on children in the grounds as there are some drops to the little rivers which drain rainwater through the gardens