U Palazzu Serenu
Style House of calm
Setting Corsican hillside
An homage to serenity, U Palazzu Serenu hotel in Corsica is a 17th-century palace high in the hills. It offers demure decor, delicious food and striking views over valleys and ocean. Anish Kapoor artwork sets the high-design tone.
Need to know
- Rooms Eight, including two suites.
Double rooms from $314.38 (€245), excluding tax at 2.1 per cent.
The price shown represents the lowest nightly rate for a double room available at this hotel over the next 21 days. Any price conversions from the hotel's local currency (€245) have been conducted using today's exchange rates from xe.com.
- More details Rates include a buffet-style breakfast of pastries, fruit, yoghurt, cake and eggs.
- Facilities Gardens, DVD library, free WiFi in communal areas. In rooms: flatscreen TV, DVD player, minibar, wired internet, Vrai bath products.
- Poolside A row of little olive trees and one sturdy old palm sit on the smooth lawn to one side of the outdoor infinity pool. On the other side, a raised, decked terrace is home to loungers and parasols.
- Check-out 12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 3pm. A shower and changing room is available if you need it.
- Also One room is wheelchair-friendly, with a dedicated bathroom and access by lift.
Food and drink at U Palazzu Serenu
The restaurant is nameless but the locals who love it refer coolly to ‘U Palazzu’. Most meals are eaten on the covered terrace, in cubic cream-coloured chairs; there are white linen napkins, and a white, decked wall displays a few carefully selected photos of boats bobbing on the Cap Corse. Chef Gilles Escaffre trained with Joël Robuchon and Alain Ducasse; he modifies the à la carte menu regularly, and guests staying on a half-board basis are treated to the shifting Market Menu every evening. The food is Mediterranean and the wine comes from Corsican vineyards. Lunch is light – meats, cheeses and salads – and can be packed if you plan to venture into the mountains. Dinner is intimate (only 25 diners) and elaborate: there is local swordfish and seabass, plus lavish shavings of Tomme cheese and Périgord truffles.
- Dress code The theme is loosely nautical – like a really demure cruise ship. Summer dresses and sandals will do nicely, but linens will blend in.
- Top table Request one of the three tables on the edge of the terrace, where it can feel as though it’s just you two, the Gulf of Saint Florent and the scorched, bronze valleys.
- Last orders Lunch is served from 12 noon to 2pm; dinner, 7.30pm to 10.30pm.
- Room service Rather sweetly (if inconveniently), food must prepared by the chef within kitchen hours. So, while it’s possible to order a bedside banquet of caviar, foie gras, cheese, charcuterie, fresh fish and salad, you can only do so during the hours mentioned.
In a narrow room, there is a glossy wooden bar, a few stools and an excellent wine list. Above, a row of sleek copper lampshades dangle from the ceiling at different lengths and opposite, a few vivid etchings by Anish Kapoor hang casually on the wall. Immediately next to the bar, a bigger sunlit seating area with shuttered windows is known as the salon – a lovely spot for a coffee or cocktail when the sea breeze sweeps in.
U Palazzu Serenu Paganacce, 20232 Oletta
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Smith extra at U Palazzu Serenu
A glass of champagne each on arrival
In the know
Our favourite rooms
Orizonte is in a corner of the hotel, which means it has smashing valley views in two directions, through giant shuttered windows; it’s enormous too. For affordability, Jardin 1 and 2 are at the foot of the building with private terraces – they’re only cheaper because they’re closer to the (unobtrusive) road. All rooms are white and pale grey, with minimal furniture, crisp linens and pale wooden floors, so as not to detract from the views.
Restorative though the location is, you will need several books and a fully loaded iPod if you plan to spend a lot of time lazing by the pool. Also bring walking shoes if you fancy exploring the valleys.
There is captivating art everywhere, all selected for its soothing properties. In reception, the little metal seats are sculptures by Paul de Pignol and the tree of painted steel and copper beads is by Wendy Wischer. There are pieces in the rooms by Korean painter Kim Tschang Yeul and American abstract expressionist Conrad Marca-Relli.