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In summary: A lavish combination of Sicilian design and eco-friendly practices situated in a tranquil setting of abundant vegetation, offering breathtaking vistas of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea.
Sicily is no longer the secret it once was. Long gone are the days when you could wander along Agrigento’s beaches, roam the streets of Taormina or admire Noto’s architecture without bumping into another tourist. Yet this region still manages to appear distinctly unspoiled.
Although there are many lavish five-star hotels and resorts, you can still find a hidden gem by driving along the scenic coast or exploring the quiet hilltop towns. Donna Carmela is a perfect example of this.
This charming hotel is surrounded by lush greenery and focuses on providing a peaceful and rejuvenating experience. It is located on the eastern coast of Sicily, less than one hour from Catania airport and approximately three to four hours from Palermo. Taormina is a mere 20km away and other popular destinations such as Piazza Armerina, Noto, and Syracuse are easily accessible for day trips. The hotel’s location also allows for convenient visits to Mount Etna and nearby wineries and vineyards.
Luxurious yet unpretentious, the hotel is effortlessly stylish without being ostentatious. There’s a strong emphasis on the environment, with the outdoors seeming to spill into the rooms, and lush greenery encasing the entire resort. It’s the ideal place for a romantic break, but you’d also feel comfortable bringing children or a group of friends to the hotel.
Efforts have been made to enhance the eco-friendliness of the resort. Recently, solar panels were installed at Donna Carmela and steps are being taken to reduce plastic usage at the hotel.
The precision and meticulousness at Donna Carmela are exceptional, providing guests with top-notch service without any rigid formality. The staff is laid-back and welcoming, and show genuine concern for their guests. It’s the type of hotel that makes you feel pampered yet comfortable, like a home away from home.
Bed and bath
The resort only has a total of 26 rooms, creating a sense of seclusion and luxury. The lodging options include eight eco-lodges, each with its own private pool and surrounded by lush, aromatic gardens, giving off a tropical jungle vibe. These eco-lodges were thoughtfully designed with “bio-architecture” principles in mind, utilizing solar thermal panels, natural insulation, and ventilated flat roofs.
Furthermore, there are 18 suites located throughout the remaining parts of the property. These suites vary from junior suites, which provide a view of either the sea or Mount Etna, to a luxurious suite with a personal pool and a 120-square-metre terrace. The Sicilian Villa with a Jacuzzi offers even more seclusion, but still allows guests to utilize the hotel’s amenities. The design of the suites is Sicilian, with a minimalist and stylish aesthetic featuring clean lines, muted greens and pinks, and natural stone.
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Food and drink
At Donna Carmela, both the breakfast buffet and the dining experience at La Cucina Di Donna Carmela Sicily are exceptional. The breakfast buffet is extensive and perfect for Instagram pictures, and there is also a breakfast menu to choose from. The restaurant is located in a beautiful garden setting, and follows a 0km policy where ingredients are sourced from the gardens of Carmela or the surrounding area, making for a truly memorable dining experience.
The hotel offers cooking lessons with skilled chefs from Donna Carmela, where you can learn to make cannoli and arancini. If you’re looking for a casual and enjoyable place for a drink or pre-dinner cocktail, check out Rizobar. And be sure to try the granita – a popular Sicilian dessert served with brioche for breakfast – at Donna Carmela’s, which I highly recommend.
The pool is available 24 hours a day, making it perfect for those who want to take a dip during sunrise or sunset. While it may not be very big, the pool offers breathtaking views. All pools, including the private ones, are heated and can be enjoyed throughout the year. Guests can also borrow bikes to explore the nearby areas and utilize the well-equipped gym, which offers the option of booking a personal trainer. The spa is on the smaller side, but provides a luxurious and tranquil experience with services such as massages and facials.
Is it suitable for families? Absolutely. Children are encouraged to join and several of the rooms are suitable for families.
The property offers two rooms, including a suite and one of the Romantic Lodges, that are accessible for individuals with disabilities.
Policy on pets: We gladly welcome pets.
At a glance
The most wonderful aspect: The beautiful gardens.
One downside: The dining experience at Donna Carmela is excellent, but it is expensive and there are limited alternative choices nearby.
Make sure you don’t miss out on visiting the Pietradolce winery for a day trip located on the slopes of Mount Etna.
Ideal for: A getaway for couples.
Inappropriate for: A noisy interruption.
I captured a photo of the sunrise from the pool on Instagram.
In April 2024, British Airways Holidays is offering a package for a three-night stay at Donna Carmela starting at £473 per person. The price includes a Superior room for two adults, full breakfast, return flights from London Gatwick, and 23kg of luggage.
Check out our reviews of the top accommodations in Italy.
The source is the Independent, a UK-based media outlet.