The port city of Messina, on Sicily’s northeastern tip, has lots to offer – from striking architecture to colourful festivals to excellent accommodations. Read on for our selection of this Italian city’s top hotels.
When it comes to cities in Sicily, Messina is often overlooked in favour of Palermo and Catania. Sicily’s third-largest city, though, is home to some stunning attractions, such as the Duomo and its unique astronomical clock. Messina also has plenty of superb places to stay, from designer boutiques in the old town to historic mansions in the surrounding countryside. We’ve put together a list of the finest hotels in this ancient town.
Perfectly located for sightseeing, Re Vittorio Deluxe recommends a two-hour walking itinerary that takes in the central square of Piazza del Duomo and its Orion Fountain, the cathedral and its astronomical clock and bell tower, and the Church of the Santissima Annunziata dei Catalani. Your base for easy on-foot exploring will be one of nine contemporary, grey-and-white rooms that can accommodate couples and families and feature original wall art. A buffet breakfast of Sicilian jams and chocolates, fruit, cereals and cold cuts is included.
Vmaison occupies a townhouse dating from the early 1900s. Rooms in this four-star boutique wear bold, almost comical designs by the Vmaison interiors team. Think multicoloured headboards and wallpapers of cartoon-style animal heads. If you like what you see, the designers can recreate any of the hotel’s snazzy features for your own home. The Terrace suites overlook a patio filled with plants and flowers, while the roof terrace – where breakfast is served – has views over Messina. Piazza del Duomo and the old town are all about a 20-minute walk from reception.
For one of the best views in Messina, take a sixth-floor room at the Hotel Royal Palace. Most have balconies or terraces overlooking the city’s rooftops and, beyond them, the mountains and the sea. When booking, you’re required to specify whether you want a bathtub or a shower in your ensuite. On-site facilities include a restaurant serving Sicilian and international cuisine, a lounge bar and a decent gym.
Hotel Sant’Elia is a friendly three-star hotel, located close to the marina, ferry port and train station. Bright and cheerful accommodations are spread over single, double, triple and family rooms, which feature floor-to-ceiling windows, private balconies and surprising additions such as vintage-style changing screens. You’ll have access to free parking as well as an in-house bar and restaurant (where a continental breakfast is laid out). Stop by the superb Ristotrattoria M’inchia across the street for Sicilian home cooking. All of the old town’s key attractions can be reached with a walk of 10 minutes or less.
Elysium B&B offers an inexpensive yet stylish base in the city centre, directly opposite the ferry dock to the Aeolian Islands. Rooms come in serious shades of black and white, with flashes of colour provided by psychedelic and vintage wallpaper. They range in size from doubles to five-person suites, and all have slick bathrooms with huge shower boxes. Fuel up on a classic Italian breakfast before exploring on foot. Piazzas del Duomo and Cairoli are both a five-minute stroll away.
Residence Annunziata is ideal for budget travellers, providing open-plan studios with fully equipped kitchens as standard. You still don’t have to cook the first meal of the day for yourself, though; breakfasts can be ordered the night before and delivered to your suite for no additional fee. The residence is located in Messina’s northern suburbs, meaning you’re away from the centre but still reasonably close (a 45-minute walk or 10-minute drive) to all the main sights. Meet fellow travellers in the communal lounge, which has a bar and TV.
The Villa Pulejo is a grand 19th-century mansion 12km (7mi) south of Messina. It’s surrounded by Renaissance gardens, the centrepieces of which are a gloriously-gnarled magnolia tree (planted in 1860) and a fountain dating from the same year, approached via a mosaic path of black and white stones. Halls and salons feature their original frescoes and paintings, but the rest of the resort is impeccably 21st century. Amenities include a restaurant, disco, pool, spa and tennis court.
Located in the heart of Messina, Hotel Messenion is a modern four-star hotel, close to the local university and the law courts. Eighteen double rooms are simple and pared back with soundproof windows to ensure a good night’s sleep. Breakfast, including a good range of gluten-free products, is included in the nightly rate. Messina Cathedral is just a 10-minute walk away; plus, there’s an excellent cocktail bar, Zio Angelo, just around the corner.
B&B Lepanto’s real draw is its central location, close to Messina Cathedral, Orion’s Fountain and the astronomical clock. Classically-styled double and triple rooms are available, complete with free wifi and air conditioning. Breakfast is included for a nightly fee. Come nightfall, head to nearby ‘A Cucchiara for traditional Sicilian fare. Just a note of caution: the B&B is surrounded by lively bars, perfect for night owls, but less so if you want an uninterrupted kip.
Courtesy of Residence Acqua del Conte / Booking.com
Tucked away from the city centre, Residence Acqua del Conte is located in a quiet neighbourhood, just a 20-minute walk from the main sights. Basic rooms sleep one to two people and are decorated with Italian film posters and modern furnishings; plus, a small kitchen and air conditioning come as standard. Ask for a room with a balcony overlooking the city. A real perk here is the laundry room on the ground floor, which is available to use, free of charge.
With a vintage design reminiscent of the 1960s, Garibaldi R&B is a great option for those looking for a quirky, unique stay. Rooms overlook the old town on one side and the harbour on the other. Upgrade to the Junior Suite with its jacuzzi bathtub and kitchen, perfect for extended stays. While you’re here, make sure you try the cannoli, a Sicilian pastry filled with creamy chocolate ricotta.
For an affordable stay close to the Palazzo della Cultura di Messina, book the Messina 41 Guest House. Each room is themed by colour – from the turquoise double to the lemon-yellow quad. Breakfast is served in the brightly coloured dining room downstairs; expect cereal, croissants, jam, honey and freshly-squeezed orange juice. There are also options for gluten-free, lactose intolerant and vegan guests. During the winter months, you can use the hotel sauna, available on request.
This is an updated version of an article originally written by Luca Pinelli.
These recommendations were updated on March 11, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.