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Most of the five-star hotels in Sicily are found in Taormina. Most historic is the Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, where the rich and famous have been gracing its neo-classical lounges since 1863.
Elsewhere, all of Sicily’s biggest towns have at least one luxury residence – though these are often four-star rather than five. An exception is Palermo’s old school, sea-facing Grand Hotel Villa Igiea.
The countryside also contains several hideaways for luxury-lovers seeking a retreat, superb facilities or simply proximity to sand. Arguably Sicily’s best luxury hotel is the 230-acre (93-hectare) Rocco Forte Verdura Resort, with its three golf courses, six tennis courts and a 60m (197 foot) infinity pool.
Most of Sicily’s satellite islands also have at least one luxury option. The Aeolians’ best accommodation is mostly on Lipari, while far-flung Pantelleria has just debuted the Sikelia – the newest member of Sicily’s five-star brigade.
Sicily’s all-inclusive resorts are scattered all along its coastline.
Near Taormina, the biggest resorts tend to be concentrated in Giardini Naxos, just north of Taormina itself, and include Hotel Caesar Palace. Agrigento, Cefalù and Ragusa are also hotspots for Sicily all-inclusives.
Some of Sicily’s best hotels are part of the new generation of designer B&Bs. Examples of this trend include Palermo’s BB22, which promises polished rooms and a relaxed roof garden.
In fact, owner-run rental properties are springing up all across Sicily. In Modica, visitors can stay at Casa Talía: stone cottages that have been stylishly renovated by a pair of Milanese architects.
In central and northern Sicily, and around Mount Etna, agriturismo (rural tourism or farmstays) is the way to go. These rural properties are generally charming and surrounded by lush gardens and beautiful scenery – many also offer extras such as cookery or organic gardening lessons.
Further south, one of the cheapest places to stay in Sicily is on a working olive farm or vineyard. Some allow you to take part in the harvest if desired; other more luxurious boltholes such as La Foresteria Planeta come with pools and lavish rooms.
The majority of Sicily’s hotels drop their prices in March and April (excluding Easter weekend) and from mid-September until the end of season. Cheap deals are sometimes available at Sicily’s luxury resorts, either during the shoulder season, or occasionally in under-booked summer weeks.