This hotel is high above the town of Taormina so a bit a little detached from the tourist bustle in the main shopping and cafe parts of the town. This is good, and in return you get excellent friendly service, a brilliant location, fabulous views (we asked for a room facing the sea and with a balcony - it was amazing) and a breakfast room/restaurant that has the most beautiful vistas possible! Breakfast is a buffet with good variety of dishes from muesli, through fresh fruits and cheeses, to cakes and croissant. Oh, and eggs and even asparagus wrapped in bacon. Excellent coffee served with a smile. The restaurant is very nice with good food well cooked and presented. Service is as always at the Villa Ducale first class. Room service is available but it was nicer to eat in the Villa Ducale restaurant or Al Saraceno restaurant nearby and have a nightcap in the hotel. Manuel automatically warmed the brandy glasses - always a good sign of a quality barkeeper. If you have a car the location is of little relevance. If not the hotel offers a shuttle bus (not very frequent, and you need to book both directions as space is limited). If you want the beach two beach clubs offer a shuttle service that picks you up from the hotel and takes you back. The hotel will arrange and the price (€12 per person) includes a sunbed. An umbrella is a few € more. The beaches have most of the facilities needed including catering. The staff at the hotel are very friendly and will go out of their way to help you and make you feel comfortable. Because it is small (only 11 rooms and 6 suites) the standard of service is high. Nice touches like a welcome drink on arrival, cold drinks and canapes at 6 pm each evening, a well stocked bar (at very reasonable prices for an hotel). If you go to the beach you are provided with fresh beach towels in a hessian bag. You can book excursions but absolutely no hard sell. The bigger coaches can't get up to the hotel but the staff took us to the bus terminal - now that is good service - a taxi would add €15 each way to the trip price. The rooms are well appointed and very well cleaned. The cleaning staff are the best. There is a mini bar at hotel prices, and a TV, but who needs that when sitting on the balcony sipping a brandy watching the sunset is available instead! Note that we stayed in the original hotel and cannot comment on the annex which is across the road. Check out the hotel website. Going to town: Shuttle for free, or taxi at €15, or local bus at €1.80 single/€2.80 return. The bus stop is just outside of the hotel. Or you can walk up the Via Madonna della Rocca to the church of the same name (5 minutes) and trundle down the steps to town (10-15 minutes). The return is rather longer and a bit harder! Makes the taxi fare a real bargain! (alternatively phone the hotel and see if the shuttle has space). Other things to do? As you are close to Castelmola (the village on the cliff above) it is worth a visit. The (in)famous Bar Turrissi with its fertility theme is unusual, and the village has some good views. The best way up from Villa Ducale is using the local bus. The prices are the same as above. The bus ride is nice with good views as you climb the hill. The bus terminus has good views. Lots of bars and cafes and restaurants to choose from, and some nice deli type shops smelling of hams. If souvenirs are your thing then this village caters well for you! Would we recommend this hotel? Certainly, we would love to come to Taormina again and would not hesitate to return to the Villa Ducale.
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