Villa Carlotta

Taormina, Sicily, Italy Book from Book from £134 per night

Intimate oasis in a turn-of-the-century villa with lovely restaurant, built into Taormina's lush cypress-spiked cliffs above the Ionian sea
Taormina has been a top tourist attraction for well over a century, and its lavish charms mean that it's likely to stay that way. Some hotels might be content to rest on the town’s laurels, but Villa Carlotta - built as an aristocratic family residence - treats guests as if they're friends of friends, and attention is paid to every aspect of your stay.

You'll find classy but not over-fancy rooms and suites, plus 4 newer apartments and a grand 3-bedroom villa a short stroll away; it's a small hotel by Taormina's standards, with a lush garden and a bijou pool terraced above the rose-coloured tiles of an ancient chapel. Interiors pay homage to both Sicilian and Florentine heritage - think classical motifs and wrought iron balconies - while placing a premium on comfort. Delectable meals are enjoyed in the rooftop restaurant and dining terrace, which has fabulous 270-degree views from Etna round to the Calabrian coast; a sumptuous daily buffet sets the gold standard for breakfasts. The town's Greek amphitheatre, bustling centre and twin coves are within walking distance, and Mt Etna is a short drive away.

Highs

  • Splendidly sited above the sea among abundant subtropical vegetation, this hotel could not be anywhere other than Taormina
  • Roof terrace with spectacular views of Mt Etna and the sea by day, and candlelit at night for a quiet aperitif or a romantic meal
  • Rooms have small balconies with sea views or terraces overlooking the garden
  • Witty attention to detail in the décor
  • The hotel has partnerships with local beach clubs and can arrange a day at the beach, including shuttle bus, for a charge

Lows

  • Not cheap - but worth every euro
  • Availability is a problem in high season, so book ahead
  • Located on the corner of a relatively busy road, though we didn't hear any traffic noise
  • The exposed catacombs on the ground floor aren't everyone's cup of tea, although they have been incorporated into a stylish lounge area
  • Candles in the public spaces weren't lit at night when we visited
  • No on-site parking, but valet parking is available for a daily charge

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are the best times to visit. If you can, avoid July and August, which can be unbearably hot and often see Taormina besieged by coach parties. Easter is big in Sicily and nearby Acireale has a parade of flower and papier-mâché floats through the town centre. Acireale also hosts a colourful parade with a silver carriage and hymns on 20 January to celebrate San Sebastiano.

Our top tips

If you're here during the summer months, take a look at the programmes for the Taormina Arte festival (throughout the summer) and Taormina Film Festival (June), which sees a series of open-air performances in the town's spectacular Greek amphitheatre.

Great for...

Beach
Family
Foodie
Honeymoon
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 23 rooms + 4 apartments + 1 villa
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
Room:

Rooms

The hotel's 23 rooms and suites are thoughtfully laid out. Some have small Juliet balconies with sea views, others have terraces overlooking the pool area. Inside each, the decor is contemporary, with neutral tones and small pops of colour. Bathrooms, with Pierre Cardin pedestal sinks, travertine walls, bathtubs or large-head showers, have floors of gold-brushed lava and are stocked with toiletries by Etro.

There are also 4 apartments set within 150 metres from the hotel. Apartment 1, where we stayed, has a large dressing room and living room; Apartment 2 is ideal for families with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms; Apartment 3 - the 'Love Nest' - on the top floor has a private sun terrace and terrific sea views; Apartment 4 is the largest (sleeping up to 5) and has a small garden plus a panoramic terrace with excellent views.

Villa al Mare is a grand 3-bedroom villa (sleeping up to 8) located 900m away from the main hotel. It has ensuite double rooms, a kitchen, a living area with 2 single sofabeds, and an impressive panoramic sun deck with a large Jacuzzi that overlooks the sea. Guests have access to the facilities at the hotel, as well as having a caretaker and butler on hand for 8 hours a day! Note that you will need to check in at the hotel's reception.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite TV
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Some consider Villa Carlotta's best attribute to be the roof terrace, with its wonderful panoramic views of Mt Etna and the Ionian Sea as far as Calabria. It’s a spectacular place to start the day, and is truly romantic at night when candlelit and hung with Indian star lights.

Breakfasts are superabundant, with several different homemade cakes and tarts, local cheeses, hams and salami, fruit, yoghurt, juices and brunch-like Sicilian dishes such as frittata, caponata and salads spread over different tables.

For lunch and dinner there’s a Sicilian-focused menu of pasta dishes, risottos, meat, fish, salads and sandwiches. There's a also dedicated pastry chef, and cooking demonstrations are available on request. At 6pm every day free canapés are served in the dining room.

The Apartments and Villa al Mare have kitchen/ettes equipped for long stays: expect a hob, oven, dishwasher, coffee machine, toaster, microwave, blender, ample equipment, cleaning materials and a washer/dryer machine. Fridge-freezers are stocked with milk and water for your arrival. Note that those in Villa al Mare do not get breakfast included.

Taormina’s many restaurants are a short stroll away - staff can advise.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Children's meals
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Wander the historic, flower-filled streets of central Taormina, a stroll away, and browse the many boutiques
  • Visit Taormina’s beautifully sited Greek amphitheatre, perched on a cliff with views across the bay to Mt Etna
  • Spend the day on the beach at Mazzarò or Isola Bella (the hotel runs a free shuttle service during the summer months), snorkelling in its crystal-clear waters protected by a picturesque offshore islet, and lunching in one of the fish restaurants. Villa Carlotta is just 5 minutes from the cable car
  • Take a bus or taxi up to the crow’s nest village of Castelmola, and sip iced almond wine as you watch the sunset
  • Further afield, explore the dramatic rock formations of the Alcantara gorge, and go rafting along its river
  • Drive to the little hill town of Castiglione di Sicilia, to visit a tiny cheese factory
  • Drive, or take a tour, up Mt Etna. Roads twist up through the national park, and there's a cable car on the southern side
  • Visit the prestigious wineries on the slopes of Etna, where there are some of the few vineyards in Europe to have survived phylloxera
  • Get off the beaten track and head up into the little-visited Nebrodi Mountains, to the north west of Taormina

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Nightlife
  • Rafting
  • Shopping / markets
  • Snorkelling
  • Swimming
  • Trekking
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children are made very welcome, and will enjoy the pool (open 10am to 6pm) and garden, although the atmosphere here is generally tranquil. Most rooms can accommodate a baby cot.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

In the hotel, Deluxe Rooms and Garden Suites have space for an extra bed, Junior Suites have 1 single sofabed and Mini Suites have up to 2 single sofabeds.

The Apartments are all ideal for families, each with well-equipped kitchen/ettes, sofabeds and space for a baby cot. Apartment 2 is specially designated for families, with 2 bedrooms.

Large families should opt for Villa al Mare as it has 3 ensuite double bedrooms as well as 2 single sofabeds. It's located about 900m from the main hotel, and therefore offers more privacy, as well as a fully equipped kitchen (rates are accommodation only).

Babysitting:

Available by arrangement

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots can be added to all rooms on request
  • High chair

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Children's meals are available on request - ours requested carbonara and loved it!

Kids Activities on site:

  • Pool
  • Toys provided during summer holidays
  • Colouring pencils & drawing books

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Playground and public garden 3-minute walk away
  • Sandy beaches with private lidos (shuttle service provided)
  • Ruins of amphitheatre to explore

Families Should Know:

Some steepish drops and terracing in the garden, not ideal for toddlers

Distances:

  • Airport: 50 minutes
  • Doctor: 7 minutes
  • Shop: 2 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Villa Carlotta is on the edge of Taormina, overlooking the Ionian Sea and Mt Etna, in northeast Sicily. It's a 50-minute drive from the airport in Catania.

By Air:
Catania Fontanarossa (50km away) is the nearest airport. If you're touring the whole of Sicily you might fly into Comiso (147mk away) or Palermo (200km away).

From the Airport
It's an easy drive along the A18 motorway from the airport to the hotel. If you're planning to stay in Taormina then you won't need a car, and the hotel can arrange a taxi transfer. There's also an airport bus, and a train to Taormina-Giardini Naxos.

By Car:
If you want to explore the wider area then it makes sense to have a car, though you won't use it much in Taormina itself (the centre is pedestrianised), see our car rental recommendations. The hotel has private valet parking (extra cost).

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 Taormina.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.

Airports:

  • Catania Fontanarossa 50.0 km CTA
  • Comiso 147.0 km CIY

Other:

  • Beach 0.2 km
  • Shops 0.2 km
  • Restaurant 0.1 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

10/10
Room
9/10
Food
10/10
Service
9/10
Value
9/10
Overall

Villa Carlotta is a great hotel with excellent staff and is well placed for exploring Taormina. Dining on the rooftop terrace with extensive views of Mount Etna and the sea was most enjoyable, as was relaxing in the Tower Lounge.

10/10,

Pro: Good location, everything is within a short walk. Excellent staff - friendly, competent and helpful, and always around. Fabulous roof terrace views. Room spacious, nicely furnished. A delightful place to stay, we loved it.
Con: Food is not on the same level as the rest of the experience - both our main courses at dinner were odd and underwhelming (and one was a 'signature dish'), lunch menu is functional but OK, breakfast is decent and comprehensive. Pillows were the very hard uncomfortable variety and there were no spares in the room, surprising at this price level. Perhaps we could have asked for softer ones.

9/10,

The pictures did not do the place justice. Perfect for a long weekend away - breathtaking views in an incredible location.

9/10,

Villa Carlotta was really great. Helpful and nice staff, great food and really comfy rooms.

10/10,

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