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“Faded splendour and not five star.”

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San Domenico Palace Hotel
Ranked #12 of 87 Hotels in Taormina
Certificate of Excellence
London
Level 5 Contributor
91 reviews
37 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 86 helpful votes
“Faded splendour and not five star.”
Reviewed 17 May 2012

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.

Room Tip: We believe that there is only one room in the whole hotel with a modern shower cubicle (rather than...
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
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    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
3 Thank Andy08London
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacrestia, Responsabile relazioni con la clientela at San Domenico Palace Hotel, responded to this review, 12 June 2012
Dear Guest,
Let us thank you for having taken the time to share with us your impressions about your last stay at the San Domenico Palace on Trip Advisor.

We have read carefully your remarks about your experience at the San Domenico Palace and we would like to comment them as follows:

• We are very sorry that you have thought our staff is not attentive enough to the needs of our guests as actually this is our preliminary goal and we work on this direction every day.
• If your room was located in the Ancient Part of the Hotel ( as from your description) the elevator was not pointed to you because it mainly serves the meeting room and office area and not the rooms located in the ancient part of the Monastery.
• As many other members of the Leading Hotels of The World we advise our guests that if you leave the window open mosquitoes might come into the room. For this reason we provide the mosquito plug. We thank you very much for your suggestions about the net but unfortunately as the San Domenico is an ancient building under the supervision of the National Heritage we are obliged to maintain the original look of the property.
• We apologise for the inconvenience about the water and the phone. Unfortunately these problems, which cannot be forecasted, may occur from time to time and we may only solve them as soon as we know.
• We are sorry that our prices did not meet your expectations but they are on the same level of our competitors.
• Usually our breakfast service is one of our strength points and we always receive very positive comments about it. However it may happen that sometime many guests can arrive at the same time and for a few moments, before being replenished, the buffet may look not at its best.

I would like to present you our most sincere apologies for your disappointment. These are certainly not the kind of remarks we like to hear but we are aware that despite all our efforts sometime we may not manage to meet all our guest needs and expectations.
We do hope we will have the pleasure to welcome you again to the San Domenico Palace in order to restore your faith in our property and hospitality.
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Boulogne sur Gesse, France
Level 5 Contributor
67 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 43 helpful votes
Reviewed 4 May 2012

Have just got back from a weeks stay at the San Domenico Palace. A truly delightful place, we went there for rest and relaxation and thats what we got. The situation of the hotel is idyllic and the buildings, which are an old monastary, are beautiful. The staff were helpful and friendly and not too pushy.
If you have problems with mobility then I would suggest that Toarmina is not the place to go as it is very hilly and the hotel is a long way from public transport. One can get a private car from the hotel but taxis have to be taken down in the town.
Breakfast was wonderful with so much to chose from and the views from the terrace are magnificent. Generally in the town the prices are a rip off and in the hotel also, for a meal of simple preparation the prices are ridiculous. WIFI is expensive also.
But inspite of my personal gripes I loved the place and would definitely go again.

Room Tip: View over the sea is spectacular and when we went was very quiet. We had a deluxe room with balcony.
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  • Stayed May 2012, travelled with family
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Helpful?
1 Thank pamela c
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sao Paulo
Level 6 Contributor
131 reviews
67 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 60 helpful votes
Reviewed 30 April 2012

What a delight! The staff is perfect. The Etna's view is amazing. We receive ungrade to jr.suite with sea view and Etna's View. The restaurant food is very good. The pool is great. The gardens is amazing. Oh my god this hotel is perfect. The hotel is close to the Corso Umberto and other attractions in Taormina! Everething is amazing!

Room Tip: Suite with sea view!
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
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Helpful?
1 Thank Carmo_Brasil
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
London, United Kingdom
Level 5 Contributor
63 reviews
18 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 91 helpful votes
Reviewed 29 April 2012

We spent one week traveling in Sicily in April 2012 and finished our trip in Taormina. We had booked for two nights at the San Domenico Palace because, on paper, it looked like a palace in an old historic building. The disappointment started right when checking-in at 1:00 pm when we were told that the rooms would not be ready before 2:00 pm. We went our for lunch came back at 2:30 pm and were told that we had to wait another 30 minutes. We discovered during our stay that the hotel was rather empty (not all tables on the breakfast terrace were occupied at 9:00 am) which makes this delay difficult to justify. Then we were told that WiFi access was charged 9 EUR a day per device. Hotels that charge for WiFi access seem to not understand that most clients see this as essential as TV and electricity in the room. When you pay 500 EUR per night for a room that has not be redecorated for 20 years, the WiFi surcharge is rather upsetting. It seemed that nothing in our bathroom had been changed since the early 90s and was not looking very clean.
On our last day, we assumed that check-out time was 12:00 pm. At 11:15 am, we received a phone call from reception asking us to leave our room since checkout time was actually 11:00 am. After the incident when we checked-in, this was really adding insult to injury.
The hotel has a few good things for it : the view on the Mediterranean Sea is fantastic, the terrace where breakfast is served is gorgeous.
The overall impression is that the staff of the hotel seems intent on making the life of their guests miserable, and they are good at it. I guess that people book there because the hotel has a reputation of a palace but once you stay there, you realize the reputation is vastly overblown and nothing is done to maintain it at a high level.
Friends of mine were planning to stay there in July. I strongly advised them to change their plans and try hotels such as the Timeo which also has a great view and, without having stayed there, seems to be much more modern.

  • Stayed April 2012, travelled with family
    • Value
    • Location
    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
4 Thank StevenL245
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Cambridge
Level 6 Contributor
106 reviews
55 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
Reviewed 28 April 2012

What a delight! Wonderful staff and all so helpful with recommendations for trips and restaurants.Breakfast was lovely..and view of Mt Etna from the pool ....amazing. Everywhere is within easy walking distance...excellent eating out and shopping if you want it. People say that Taormina is expensive but i don't think so really...no more than any other similar place in Italy. We have been to Venice and Florence in the last six months and it compares with either of those places... Only two moans really....no free wi fi access but not a problem if you're on holiday and the air con doesn't get turned on in April as it's not considered hot enough! We were there for several days when it was in the low 20's.One recommendation is to drive up to local hilltop village and eat in a small restaurant called Turrisi...an absolute gem!

Room Tip: Rooms with proper sea view overlook a road so probably noisy if you sleep with the window open.View...
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  • Stayed April 2012, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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    • Sleep Quality
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Helpful?
1 Thank ssw57
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Sacrestia, Responsabile relazioni con la clientela at San Domenico Palace Hotel, responded to this review, 30 April 2012
Dear Guest,
Let us thank you for having taken the time to write your impression on our hotel during your last stay at the San Domenico Palace Hotel.
We were very happy to learn that you spent some magical moments on our terrace during breakfast time. We did take good note regarding the air condition and the Internet access that is not free .
We do hope we will have the pleasure of welcoming you again at the San Domenico Palace Hotel

Yours sincerely,
Report response as inappropriate
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about San Domenico Palace Hotel

Property: San Domenico Palace Hotel
Address: Piazza San Domenico 5, 98039, Taormina, Sicily, Italy
Phone Number:
Region: Italy > Sicily > Province of Messina > Taormina
Amenities:
Bar / Lounge Beverage Selection Business Centre with Internet Access Fitness Centre with Gym / Workout Room Free Breakfast Free Parking Pets Allowed ( Dog / Pet Friendly ) Restaurant Room Service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access Airport Transportation
Hotel Style:
#10 Luxury Hotel in Taormina
Price range (per night): ₹ 25,898 - ₹ 58,672
Hotel Class:5 star — San Domenico Palace Hotel 5*
Number of rooms: 108
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

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