“A stunning, spoiling hotel on the lower slopes of a hillside village, with pool, charming terraces and fabulous sea views”
Inside the "serene palace" (or U Palazzu Serenu by Aethos Hotels to give its full name), you'll 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 - we loved the special 'truffle menu', and the daily menu has some great choices too
- 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)
- Parking can be tricky: you might find a roadside space, otherwise try the free car park 100m away
- Rooms are expensive in high and peak season, but they do include breakfast, rare on Corsica
- The best local beaches are only accessible by boat, though this is easily done in the summer
- Although children are welcome, it's not the most family-friendly hotel
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Hotel
- Restaurant and bar
- All ages welcome
- Closed: Nov-March
- Outdoor Pool
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
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 enormous beds dressed in crisp linen, art on the walls, and plenty of amenities (hairdryer, large TV, robes). Bathrooms - with big mirrors and delicious lotions - are divine. Less expensive rooms have showers; more expensive rooms have baths.
The 2 Garden Suites 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's pretty quiet.
The 3 Mountain View Suites offer long views over the valley to the high peaks, but a bit less space inside. We saw one: the bathroom was huge, the bedroom smaller, so it’s a question of priorities.
There's 1 Oletta Suite - 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.
Two Palazzu Suites have separate sitting rooms with a double sofabed (suitable for 2 kids or 1 adult). The one we saw had cute village views and a big bed resting against a wall of wood with mood lighting at its base. There's also a huge Aethos Suite which can sleep 4 in comfort (thanks to a large double sofabed), or 2 in honeymoon splendour.
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- DVD player
- Extra beds
- Internet access
- Safe box
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; you'll need to book in summer. You can eat à la carte or choose from a range of seasonal menus. We loved our foie gras ravioli with Périgord truffles, succulent veal with onions and tomatoes, then tarte tatin with caramel ice cream. 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.
- 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
- Horse riding
- Jet skiing
- Mountain biking
- Museums / galleries
- Rock climbing
- Scuba diving
- Well being
Families are welcome, and the larger suites can take 2 kids (using a sofabed), but bear in mind that the general atmosphere is tranquil and more adult-oriented.
Teens (over 12)
Family friendly accommodation:
Extra Beds Available
U Palazzu Serenu by Aethos Hotels is in the tiny inland village of Oletta, which stands in the hills 5km south of St Florent in northern Corsica, and 15km west of Bastia.
Bastia - the island’s second city, with good flight connections to France - is 15km away. Alternatively try Calvi (75km).
From the Airport
We'd recommend hiring a car - see our car rental recommendations.
Ferries link Bastia or Calvi with Nice, Marseilles and Toulon in France, and with Livorno, Genoa and Savona in Italy.
Detailed directions will be sent when you book through i-escape.
- Bastia Poretta 15.0 km BIA
- Calvi 75.0 km CLY
- Beach 10.0 km
- Shops 5.0 km
- Restaurant 0.5 km