Sicily is full of unique charm and boutique hotels are the perfect way to experience local culture while enjoying luxury. Their smaller size also means more space and less mixing with large crowds, which has been positive for many travelers since the pandemic.
But as in many countries, it is not always clear what is meant by a boutique hotel.
One of the options on this list is more of a business hotel, despite being called a boutique. While another is a boutique hotel through and through – for all the right reasons. So make sure you do your research and check that what you are booking is definitely the type of hotel you are looking for.
We are moving clockwise around this Mediterranean island bringing you the best small hotels in the most popular tourist destinations in Sicily.
Cefalu – Le Calette garden and bay
Cefalu is most popular for day trips from Palermo, Sicily’s largest city and just an hour away by train. But there’s plenty to see, do, eat, and drink here, so it’s worth reserving two or three days for this historic beach town.
Le Calette Garden and Bay is 2 km from the city center, tucked away in a bay with sparkling blue water. It’s a small resort with everything you need right on your doorstep. So much so that I can imagine that many guests don’t even make it to the city of Cefalu. For those who wish, this charming seaside resort is just a 20-minute walk away or can be reached with the free hotel shuttle.
The main area of the hotel is very spacious with a beautiful pool and bar area. One level below is a terrace where breakfast is served with a wonderful view of the sea. Even further down is the Calette Reef Club (open June to September), which has another bar, sun loungers and a private terrace. I recommend taking the ladder down to the sea and swimming from here to discover the tiny hidden beach around the corner of the bay.
All Le Calette Hotels are family run and have been in business since 1969. This can be seen in the smooth process and the excellent service. The front desk staff was particularly helpful; Available throughout my stay to answer any questions about the hotel’s services, such as spa and yoga classes.
The five stars of Le Calette shine in the choice of rooms. The private outdoor areas make them feel spacious inside and out. The furnishings feel high quality and the little details like fresh fruit really make the experience.
Double rooms can be booked from € 198 here.
Salina, Aeolian Islands – Principe da Salina
Salina is my favorite island of the Aeolian Islands and Principe da Salina has meanwhile become my favorite hotel – certainly in Italy and perhaps in all of Europe. It was a real find and it turned out I was lucky enough to get a room at the last minute. It only has 12 available and was fully booked for most of the summer, even this year.
There are so many little touches that complete this serene hideaway like the sulphurous geothermal pool that is said to improve blood circulation and the linen sarongs for guests. Not to mention the exquisite home cooking, impeccable interiors, and an infinity pool to die for.
My garden room had a beautiful terrace with a hanging chair overlooking the sea. It was the perfect place to curl up with a book, especially since the whole place was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. This was one of my favorite things about Principe – the silence that surrounds the whole place. Within hours of my arrival, I had forgotten the stresses of life, safe in the knowledge that my only duty here was to relax and enjoy myself.
The calm atmosphere of course makes it unsuitable for families with small children. Most of the other guests were couples or single travelers. I felt like many of them were escaping hectic life and high pressure jobs.
Principe is family run and you really feel welcome. The matriarch is the mastermind behind the food, which is made with local, seasonal ingredients. It’s really high quality, but very cheap, with filling lunch dishes from € 10.
Anita, daughter and manager, will be happy to book a wine tasting for you in one of the nearby wineries. She also gave us recommendations for restaurants in Santa Marina, the center of Salina if you can call it that. While I have to warn you, don’t expect to see much of the island as it is hard to break away from Principe’s warm embrace.
The prices for a double room start at € 170 and are bookable here.
Modica – Modica Boutique Hotel
The first thing I noticed about Modica Boutique Hotel was the location. It is in the shopping area of Modica and not in the historical center and is connected to a petrol station. Despite this somewhat strange choice of location, there is a lot to recommend about this business hotel.
It has a spacious and beautifully designed lobby area that leads to the restaurant. Food is served here all day and there is a good selection of Italian and international dishes.
The rooms are all set back from long corridors and each floor has water and ice stations which was a nice touch. There are rooms for different budgets, but they are all spacious and nicely designed.
With easy access to the main drag to and from Modica, this is the perfect place for business travelers. The wifi was perfect and the rooms are very quiet. That atmosphere made it a great place to work – and sleep well. There is also a meeting room on the ground floor that can be rented.
If you want to explore the old town or visit the hotel’s private beach, there is a shuttle service to both. This is the perfect way to get to the old town, especially as it is too cumbersome to take your own car due to narrow streets and a lack of parking spaces.
Double rooms from 90 € and bookable here.
Etna – monks of the Black Land
If you are looking for hikes and adventure during the day and peace and solitude at night, this is the right place for you. Wine lovers, too, take note.
Monaci delle Terre Nere is a 25 hectare estate at the foot of Mount Etna, Europe’s largest and most active volcano. They grow the grapes for six types of wine (all delicious) along with more fruits and vegetables than I can name.
The products grown on the property are incorporated into every part of the experience, from the fruit basket waiting for you in your room to the daily changing lunch and dinner menu. I found the food to be overpriced, especially for Sicily, where you can usually eat for € 30 per person including wine. But the helipad made me feel like money is not an issue for most customers.
The rooms are located in chalets around the Monaci delle Terre Nere. There is so much land between them that it feels like you have your own private estate. Until then a golf buggy drives past the window – the means of transport with which the guests are transported around.
I stayed in a deluxe estate suite and it was breathtaking. It had a bedroom, a living room, two bathrooms and even a walk-in closet. The sofa in the living room doubles as a bed, so you can comfortably accommodate a group of friends here.
I was in Monaci at the end of September and it was a cloudy and gray weekend. This is not uncommon for Mount Etna, where the weather is as unpredictable as the volcano itself. Normally I would have been disappointed, but our suite was so special that I was glad not to feel constrained. I lit the fire, plugged in the Bose speaker in the room, and spent the afternoon dipping into the private pool.
All in all, Monaci is a great choice if you are looking for luxury while experiencing majestic Mount Etna.
The prices for a double room start at € 395 and are bookable here.
Noto – Masseria degli Ulivi
Masseria degli Ulivi is a 10-minute drive from Noto, one of the island’s best baroque towns, and Sicily’s gay capital. But if you stay here, you don’t know that you are that close to a busy city center. Masseria degli Ulivi feels like a real retreat in the country.
The olives, after which the hotel is named, produce oil until late in the year, but it is available all year round. I tried it at dinner and it was golden in color and rich in taste. Homemade produce is a hallmark here, with freshly baked bread for dinner and homemade jams for breakfast. All of these goodies were exceptionally good which made the food my favorite part of the stay.
In the center of Masseria there is a large outdoor swimming pool with views of the countryside. Like the rest of the hotel, this area is simply designed. You won’t find well-tended lawns or velvet sofas here. Instead, the furnishings are in the traditional Sicilian style. Our room was designed in soothing white tones and neutral colors to match.
In contrast to most hotels, there are no USB sockets or fancy technology. But I enjoyed that as it meant turning off my devices for an on-the-fly digital detox. The service is just as straightforward. The staff are there when you need them but they are not pushy or pushy.
Overall, I had a really relaxing stay in this relaxed country hotel. I will definitely come again.
Double rooms from 101 € and bookable here.
Ruth Wright was a guest at the Modica Boutique Hotel, Monaci delle Terre Nere and Masseria degli Ulivi. All views are their own.