What do I want from a hotel? My needs are simple. Good service, a comfortable bed, a terrific shower, great coffee, good value for money and - where possible - a great location. The San Domenico satisfies only the last of these. The views from the terraces and gardens are out of this world although it was disappointing that you could not see any of them directly from the poolside.
The hotel service was definitely not five star. First of all - very few of the reception staff seemed to understand or speak English. This led to misunderstandings such as when we asked if our our very hard bed could be made more comfortable by the addition of a "topper" to the mattress. They somehow understood this to mean that we wanted a "soft" bath and provided a slip mat in the bath instead! We did get our topper eventually which was some improvement as the beds are very hard indeed. What's more, the sheets and the pillowcases are so starched that they are hard, prickly and irritate the skin.
The bathrooms throughout the hotel are uniformly small. The only shower is over the bath and is very cramped. A few times there was no hot water at all or it was tepid rather than hot. On the good side, our room and bathroom were kept very clean. The towels were thick and soft - but that's what one should expect. They were also very generous with the Molton Brown bath products. However, the public bathrooms are not well maintained and not cleaned or serviced as they should be in any hotel - let alone a five star one.
The breakfast buffets are good and the terrace location is just lovely. But the breakfast coffee was absolutely horrible. The buffet counter is not replenished as it should be and we often had to ask for items to be put out that should have been there. There were a lot of staff around but they did not seem to be alert to the needs of their guests.
We did not eat or drink at the hotel as the prices are exorbitant. For example, they charge six euros for a small bottle of mineral water from the mini bar in the guest rooms. The rooms themselves have seen better days. They lack the quality and comfort one expects from a five star hotel.
There were notices everywhere warning guests not to open the windows so we used the air con instead which worked well. However, couldn't they put some netting over the windows so that guests could enjoy fresh air sans mosquitoes?
As with other reviewers, we also found that the phone in our room did not work. If we wanted anything we had to go all the way back down (a long hike) to the reception desk.
The pool (in May) was warm enough for swimming. Sometimes the shower by the pool was warmer than the shower in our room! We enjoyed the pool area and found it a very pleasant place to relax. However, it is a long hike from the rooms - as is the breakfast terrace. You have to navigate all the large, empty public rooms first before you get anywhere. We had a long hike to our rooms too - along many corridors and up many flights of stairs. It was a while before we found out that there was actually a lift to our floor!
On our first day we were astonished to find that the maids were still cleaning our room at 2.45 in the afternoon! We asked to have it cleaned earlier in the day from then on and this was done.
Generally, the staff were swift to put things right once they were pointed out to them. However, a five star hotel should know how to get these things right without needing to be told.
We felt that the hotel is living on its laurels and needs to wake up its ideas if it wishes to remain one of the world's leading hotels - a title which at the moment we feel is not deserved.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A LUXURY 5-STAR HOTEL ON THE EAST COAST OF SICILY The San Domenico Palace Hotel sits in a truly magnificent setting that has attracted people from ancient times. A luxury 5-star hotel in an ancient Dominican monastery, it has views over Mount Etna and Taormina Bay on the east coast of Sicily not far from Messina. Countless famous writers, artists and composers, came here to savour this unique spot at the very tip of Italy. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Palazzo San Domenico Taormina
- Palazzo San Domenico Hotel Taormina
- San Domenico Palace Hotel Taormina, Sicily