Where to Stay in Sicily for a Local Experience
Stay away from tourist-traps and experience the Sicilian way of life with a stay at these hidden-gem hotels and apartments | © NAPA / Alamy Stock Photo
Getting to know Sicily doesn’t take much. Alongside the small gestures of locals who’ll gladly point you in the right direction of an in-the-know art gallery or away-from-the-crowds sight, a warm and welcoming hospitality can also be found in the island’s best hotels and restaurants. Book into one of these best places to stay to be immersed in Sicilian culture.
Alba Palace Hotel
Courtesy of Alba Palace Hotel / Expedia
Favara is a typical Sicilian village only a 15-minute drive from Agrigento, known for the ruins of Akragas and its Valley of Temples. This snug hotel in the middle of Favara offers family rooms that sleep up to five people and spa rooms with private hot tubs, as well as a wellness centre, a wine cellar and restaurant whose indoor rooms and outdoor terraces are worthy of a Michelin star alone. A few minute’s stroll away, be sure to visit the town’s ground-breaking Farm Cultural Park created by two Favara natives who have turned an entire neighbourhood into an open-air art gallery.
Courtesy of GiaChi Apartment / Expedia
Slow travel by train allows you to glimpse local life and enjoy a vista of ever-changing landscapes. This apartment is located right next to Palermo’s main train station, making it the perfect starting point for your tour of Sicily by train. Being an apartment, you’re free to come and go as you please, just like the locals. But host Valentina will also make sure you get a warm welcome and give you her best local tips. She’ll even organise a welcome aperitif at a nearby bar for you.
Abbazia Santa Anastasia
Courtesy of Abbazia Santa Anastasia / Expedia
This eco-chic 12th-century converted Benedictine abbey in Madonie Natural Park is a great choice for nature lovers who like to go hiking, biking or horseback riding, but is also suited to wine enthusiasts who’d like to learn about the resort’s biodynamic way of working. During a visit to the local wine cellar, friendly staff will tell you all about the territory’s different grape varieties. Accordingly, the rooms are all named after different types of grape, rounded off with bespoke naïf-style artwork by the owner.
Locanda Don Serafino
Boutique Hotel, Hotel, Luxury
Courtesy of Locando Don Serafino / Expedia
Located in the historical part of Ragusa, this boutique hotel with a Michelin-starred restaurant is a dream destination for fine-dining fans. The cave-like luxury rooms allow you to fully immerse yourself in the history of the Unesco-listed city, and feature exposed limestone walls that act as an ode to the area’s typical stone. If you’re up for trying more local specialties, drop by hole-in-the-wall Risiu, a “ricotta bar and cheese experience” offering the best Sicilian sweet treats in town.
Budget Hotel, Independent Hotel, Apartment
Courtesy of Residence 150 / Expedia
These family-friendly apartments in downtown Catania are perfect for groups looking for a homely, fully-equipped apartment, rather than an impersonal hotel room. The personalised service from the friendly staff is a plus and there’s always someone available for questions and local tips – there will also be a complimentary bottle of wine in the kitchen waiting for you. For a local and rustic dinner, go to Trattoria Saltimbocca Da Giancarlo, only a 10-minute stroll from your apartment.
Boutique Hotel, Budget Hotel, Hotel
Courtesy of Hotel Gutkowski / Expedia
Somewhere between a budget-friendly hotel and upmarket guesthouse, the rates of these rooms in old Syracuse include an organic breakfast with freshly-squeezed juice and homemade pastries, all served on the hotel’s own roof terrace. Created by three talented Sicilian artists –aristocrat Paola Gutkowski, furniture designer Herbert Weinand and interior designer Maria Vittoria – the individuality of the place shines through in the smallest details, from the quirky plates by a local ceramist to the mirrors framed with shipwreck wood, found on nearby shores.
Monaci delle Terre Nere
Boutique Hotel, Eco Hotel
Courtesy of Monaci delle Terre Nere / Expedia
If understated luxury is your thing, you’ll love this rustic estate founded by 18th-century monks on the slopes of Mount Etna. The romantic plum-hued villa has been restored with an ardent respect for history; traditional materials abound, such as Etna chestnut-and-lime mortar, but thanks to contemporary details like designer bathtubs and modern fireplaces, it doesn’t linger in the past. With a full agenda of activities – from wine tastings to yacht cruises – you’ll get to know the local area in no time.
Boutique Hotel, Chain Hotel, Spa Hotel, Hotel, Luxury
Courtesy of La Foresteria Planeta Estate / Expedia
The Planeta family owns several of Sicily’s most beloved wine estates and besides making wine, hospitality is a family trait that runs deep. From the welcoming home-style lounge to the ancestral heirlooms, everything seems to be designed to make you feel at ease. The chef runs cooking courses regularly and there are daily wine tastings to get you familiar with the main activity. Most of the staff are from the nearby area and will gladly share insider tips, too.
These recommendations were updated on August 27, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.