Taormina is the legendary holiday destination in the Sicily. The historical town on the slopes of Etna with the sweeping views of the Mediterranean has been on the top of list of the European holidays scene for close to 2 centuries. The best place to experience the grandeur of the 18th and the early 19th century style of travel.
The Timeo started life in 1873 as a five-room guest house occupying what is today the main building of the hotel, and was popular with young men ‘doing’ the Grand Tour, artists, writers and European aristocracy. Oscar Wilde, DH Lawrence (who is said to have written Lady Chatterley’s Lover here) and Truman Capote have all marvelled at the views from the terraces. With its wonderful old polished parquet floors, antiques and paintings, the main part of the hotels retains an old-fashioned atmosphere, albeit tempered by 21st century luxuries and top-notch services. It is far from stuffy however; the impeccably liveried staff are delightful and the atmosphere is relaxed.
Belmond acquired the hotel in 2010 bringing their super-high service standards with them. From the porter who takes your luggage on arrival to the front desk staff, everyone is reassuringly charming and courteous.
There is a spa and a heated pool set in the lovely gardens and plenty of terrace space, plus sitting rooms with huge windows from which to enjoy the magical views. A free shuttle service will whisk you down the hill to seaside sister hotel the Belmond Sant’Andrea whose private beach, sun-loungers and other facilities are available to Timeo guests free of charge. There are complimentary boat trips along the coast in summer or you can sign up for a trip to the Silvestro crate on Etna for an aperitivo followed by a cooking lesson in a local home (extra charge).
The 70-odd rooms and suites are divided between the main hotel building and the nearby, less atmospheric (and slightly tired-looking) Villa Flora which houses the entry-level classics – it’s worth shelling out the extra for a room with a view in the older building, although Villa Flora is due for a complete overhaul at the end of the 2018 season.
The 40 rooms in the original villa all have sea and volcano views, plus private terraces or balconies and feature a classic, restrained mix of antiques, gilded mirrors, fine fabrics and polished parquet floors. Wonderfully comfortable beds are made up with exquisite embroidered sheets and the splendid marble bathrooms are supplied with the softest robes, fluffiest towels imaginable and orange-blossom-scented toiletries by Ortygia.
Executive chef Roberto Toro’s fresh, seasonal, modern menus feature the likes of spaghetti with clams on a grouper carpaccio and seared tuna steak with a zesty orange sauce. Flavours are predominantly Sicilian and the fuss is kept to a minimum. The terrace bar is a great place to kick off the evening with a signature Etna Spritz (made with local orange liqueur).
Breakfast comes with volcano views and a groaning table of goodies including freshly squeezed juices and granitas, porridge, French toast and even fillet of beef to order. There is also a choice of healthy breakfast menu options (‘Detox’ or ‘Energetic’) or you could go for the traditional Sicilian brioche.
Text credits: The Telegraph