U Palazzu Serenu

Oletta, Corsica, France Book from

Reviewed by Tom Bell
Super-smart art hotel on the lower slopes of a hillside village, with pool, charming terrace and fabulous sea views
Oletta is an ancient village that brings together the 2 landscapes that unite this stunning island: mountain and sea. It stands high in the sky on the side of a hill with sweeping views shooting north to the coast at St Florent. As you’d expect, this 300-year-old nobleman’s house makes the most of its position. Manicured lawns roll down to a summer house, where breakfast is served overlooking the valley, while the swimming pool terrace climbs the hill with sunbeds on each level. Serene indeed.

Inside, you find a white hotel that doubles as an art gallery. Each wall features the work of a different artist with sculpture, photography and contemporary art all on display. You’ll find it in reception, the cute little bar and the chic restaurant, where you stop for some very good food. Bedrooms - white walls, white furniture, white pressed linen - are exemplary. Views float in from mountain and valley; those at the front look out to sea. You get smart wood floors, a couple of armchairs, contemporary art above your impossibly comfortable bed, then robes in wonderful bathrooms. Two garden rooms open onto small terraces, while sitting rooms in the suites come with long white sofas. St Florent, sandy beaches and Le Cap de Corse all wait.


  • A beautiful part of Corsica, and heaps to do in the area: white-sand beaches, charming little villages, watersports, hiking in the mountains, and the magical Cap de Corse
  • Excellent food - the special 'truffle menu' is hard to resist and the daily menu has some great choices: foie gras ravioli, veal Saltimbocca with tomato petal confit, salted caramel ice cream
  • The 8 enormous white bedrooms, some with sea views, all with beautiful bathrooms; wonderfully romantic
  • The manicured garden is a gorgeous place to linger with its sparkling pool and pretty summer house
  • ‘Easily accessible’ is not a phrase you often hear on Corsica, but Bastia airport to Oletta is a cinch (15km)


  • There’s no parking - space is at a premium in a mountain village. There's a free carpark 100m away, and you can park on the road outside the hotel, but this is easier in low season than mid-July
  • Small-ish towels and plastic mugs in the bathrooms don’t fit the mood of this otherwise beautiful hotel
  • Rooms are extremely expensive in high and peak season, but they do include breakfast, rare on Corsica
  • We don’t advise the half-board option - the food is good, but there are some great restaurants nearby and you’ll want to eat out, too
  • The best local beaches are only accessible by boat, though this is easily done in the summer

Best time to go

The hotel closes from 9 January-5 February. The weather is lovely from early spring to mid-autumn, though very hot in July and August. Prices soar from June-September, when the roads are busy, and restaurant tables hard to secure. May is a good month to visit, as the temperature is perfect, it's not too busy, and the seasonal airlines have started flying in.

Our top tips

  • First, you are staying in Oletta, not Poggio d’Oletta, a satellite of the big village - it’s easy to get confused
  • Secondly, if you head to the beaches at Lotu and Saleccia, bear in mind that there are no sunbeds to rent, so if you need shade, buy a parasol in town
  • Great for...

    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 8
    • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
    • Under 3s and over 11s welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    Room: Suite


    The 8 rooms have a similar style, the principal ingredient being white. There are 4 different types, which are determined by size not view (the suites, for example, don’t look out to sea). All come with great art on the walls, DVD players and large flat-screen TVs. You get a couple of cool armchairs, then enormous beds dressed in crisp white linen. Bathrooms - with big mirrors and delicious lotions - are divine. Less expensive rooms have showers; more expensive rooms have baths with a handheld shower.

    The 2 Giardinu Rooms are the least expensive, but they are large and have terraces that catch the afternoon sun. We liked them a lot. They are set at the side of the house on the ground floor, so they are closer to the lane that snakes through the village, but it passes quietly at night (and probably most of the day). They have white resin floors, white wardrobes and beautiful walk-in showers.

    The 3 Golfe Rooms are the smallest - to compensate all have sea views. We saw one. The bathroom was huge, the bedroom smaller, so it’s a question of which you want most: space or view. If you'll spend your time out and about or down at the pool, then these will be fine for a couple of days.

    There's 1 Orizonte Room - a big room with high ceilings and a great sense of space thanks to banks of shuttered windows that flood the room with light. We stayed in this and loved it, even though we didn’t have a sea view. Big double doors open onto a seriously beautiful bathroom.

    There are 2 Suites, which have separate sitting rooms, where sofas can turn into extra beds. The one we saw had cute village views and a big bed resting against a wall of wood with mood lighting at its base. The bedrooms are slightly smaller than Orizonte Room (or Giardinu Rooms for that matter). So unless you have an urgent desire for extra space, you really don’t need to upgrade.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Central heating
    • Cots Available
    • Dvd player
    • Extra beds
    • Internet access
    • Internet access
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Phone
    • Safe box
    • Terrace
    • Toiletries
    • Tv
    • WiFi


    Breakfast is included in the room rate. In good weather you eat in the summer house; in autumn you return to the main house and eat in the dining room. You get muesli and yoghurts, freshly squeezed orange juice, baskets of baguettes and croissants, then homemade cake or an egg. There’s strong coffee and English tea to wash it all down.

    A short lunch menu is available: local cheeses and charcuterie, a Caesar salad or a club sandwich. If you’re heading up into the hills, a packed lunch can be arranged.

    Dinner is an intimate affair, the number of diners limited to 25. Residents take precedence, but still need to book. Chef Gilles Escaffe, who trained with Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse, mixes Corsican flavours with traditional French flair. We loved the foie gras ravioli with Périgord truffles, succulent veal with onions and tomatoes, then tarte tatin with caramel ice cream; you can eat à la carte or choose from a range of seasonal menus. If you want something simpler, try the bar: risotto, grilled chicken, beef tartare. There’s an excellent wine list, too.

    Elsewhere, one of the best restaurants in the area is in the village, so walk up to Auberge A Magina and try its delicious food. The menus are well-priced. For good Italian food, try Il Pulcinella - the locals all eat here.

    For other restaurant recommendations, see our Destination Guide.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Minibar/fridge
    • Restaurant
    • Restaurants nearby
    • Room service
    • Vegetarian menu


    • Hang out on the swimming pool terrace, where you can gaze out over the valley from the comfort of your sunbed. There’s a treatment room if you need a massage

    • A tour of the Cap de Corse, the northern peninsula, is a must. Take the east coast up and the west coast down - that way you'll drive in the sun all day. Stop at Le Vieux Moulin in Centuri for lunch and eat pasta stuffed with langoustines. There are beaches all the way round and pretty villages to explore

    • Drop down to St Florent and take a boat over to Plage du Lotu or Plage de Saleccia. Blue water and white sands wait. There’s a beach restaurant and a bar in summer

    • All sorts of watersports can be arranged, from boat trips along the coast to diving, kayaking, windsurfing, sailing or jet skiing. If you want something more challenging, extreme sports are on hand: canyoning, paragliding, rock climbing or quad biking

    • The mountains behind you are wild and wonderful, well worth a day of your holiday. There’s great walking, big views, and horses to ride through spectacular landscapes

    • Corsica plays host to lots of music festivals over the summer, mostly from July to September. Highlights of the northeast are the guitar festival in Patrimono in July and the Latin music festival in St Florent in August

    • There’s golf at Borgo (close to Bastia) or Speloncato (inland). And you can also hunt up in the hills on a private estate; reception will advise

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Boat trips
    • Fishing
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Horse-riding
    • Jet skiing
    • Kayaking
    • Mountain biking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Paragliding
    • Rock climbing
    • Sailing
    • Scuba diving
    • Swimming
    • Well being
    • Windsurfing


    Children under the age of 3 and over the age of 11 are welcome, but this is a smart, refined hotel, which will only suit well-behaved children who are happy in adult company. There are cots for babies and extra beds for older kids (supplement cost); this price includes breakfast.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    All rooms can fit an extra bed or baby cot.

    Kid Friendly:

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