Corsica, France

Aethos Corsica

Price per night from$230.22

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR220.37), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.

Style

Pin-drop peaceful palazzo

Setting

Elevated Corsican commune

Aethos Corsica – the 17th-century Florentine-style residence formerly known as Palazzu Serenu – is indeed super chill, rising above the noise in straight-from-a-fairy-tale hilltop village Oletta in the upper circle of the island’s most rampantly wild quarter, with mountain-crowded views down to the Bay of Florent that would put a screensaver to shame. There’s only nine bright white suites and each has just what it needs – the views and picks from a fantastical art collection do the heavy lifting when it comes to decor. Decadence here is found in twirling a bite of lobster pasta round your fork (dining defers to Corsica’s Italian influence), nursing a bottle of barolo by the pool at sunset and internalising the stay’s stillness – a picturesque peace that’s rare indeed.

Smith Extra

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A cocktail each on arrival

Facilities

Photos Aethos Corsica facilities

Need to know

Rooms

Nine suites.

Check–Out

12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability and a charge. Earliest check-in, 3pm. Reception closes at 10pm, so ring in advance if you’ll be checking in later.

Prices

Double rooms from £190.65 (€225), including tax at 2.1 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €1.65 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates usually include a Continental or vegan breakfast, served alfresco on the hotel’s terrace.

Also

With hills, stairs and stepped terraces, the hotel isn’t best suited to guests with mobility issues.

Please note

Due to Covid-19 precautions, check-in can be done online.

Hotel closed

The property opens for summer from April till November.

At the hotel

Alfresco terraces, lounge, gardens, charged laundry service, free WiFi. In rooms: TV, bathrobes, minibar, Casanera bath products.

Our favourite rooms

Suite decor barely differs aside from the choice of wall candy and some have extra space for lounging in, so the deciding vote comes down to the view. The Bay View Suites just swing it for their mesmerising combo of mountain and sea. The Palazzu and Aethos Suites are the largest (sleeping three and four respectively), so they’d easily suit a family or accommodate a group, with their extra sitting room each for hosting duties and drink gatherings.

Poolside

Behind a windbreaker of sentry olive trees is the 20-metre lap pool (open 9am to 9pm), set at a high vantage point for a view that packs in palms, mountains and forested foothills. Pairs of shaded sun-beds are set on each of a set of large terraced steps that climb up a slope (we bagsy the top one) and there’s a bar close by for top-ups.

Spa

There’s just one treatment room, which is as white and calming as the rest of the hotel, where you can choose from a small edit of massages. On request, yoga classes can be arranged on a terrace with highly motivating views, or staff can call in a personal trainer.

Packing tips

oad up on loungewear if you intend to lean into the hotel’s more restful nature; or all sorts of active gear if your aim is wild adventuring.

Children

The hotel’s tranquil nature might bore babes, but two suites can sleep families, cots are free of charge and nannies can be hired for €25 an hour. Children must be accompanied at the pool.

Sustainability efforts

The kitchen only sources ingredients from ethical, eco-friendly suppliers.

Food and Drink

Photos Aethos Corsica food and drink

Top Table

The terrace where breakfast is served could keep us all day with its comfy club seats and scenes to sigh over.

Dress Code

Take the understated chic of your suite as inspiration.

Hotel restaurant

Ceci serves up modern Italian food with a little Corsican know-how and a conscious effort to keep things local, sustainable and eco-friendly all round. The local farms and fisheries have outdone themselves with ingredients that shine in dishes such as roasted pumpkin with orange purée and a pistachio-peanut crumble; sea bass and confit leeks in a green sauce; and lemon cake with honey, dulce de leche and yoghurt – although the menu changes frequently. You can dine alfresco on the terrace, but if the weather’s a little chilly you’ll move inside to the art-clad lounge.

Hotel bar

The dedicated bar is a cosy space – also with minimal adornment – with a few leather armchairs and stools, wood-topped counter over which cocktails and varietals from Florent’s vineyards are slung, and yet more artwork. Or you can go free-range and order a negroni or chilled wine at the pool bar.

Last orders

Breakfast runs from 7.30am till 10.30am (7am on request). Lunch is served on weekends only from 12 noon to 3pm, and dinner is served from Tuesday to Saturday, 7pm to 10pm.

Room service

Dine chez toi from 8am to 6pm.

Location

Photos Aethos Corsica location
Address
Aethos Corsica
Lieu Dit Paganacce
Oletta
20232
France

Aethos Corsica’s 17th-century pewter-hued palazzo stands out amid the coral villas of on-high village Oletta, tucked into a crook of the Haute-Corse.

Planes

The nearest airport is Bastia-Poretta, a 30-minute drive away. The airport mainly receives flights from mainland France with French airlines, but there are direct flights from neighbouring European countries. Staff can help with arranging transfers (about €60 one-way).

Trains

You could take the Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) to Paris or Lille, catch an onward TGV to Nice and then take a ferry to Bastia with Corsica Ferries (www.corsica-ferries.co.uk). It’s a wayward and rather leisurely route that could conservatively take up to 10 hours, but you’ll see a generous swathe of countryside and coast along the way.

Automobiles

The Nice to Bastia ferry carries cars, and driving all the way could save you cash, but you’d need a few days either side to make it pleasant if you're coming from the UK (it’s about a 16-hour drive from London). Or, if you’d rather fly but want to explore Corsica by car, you can hire a car on arrival. Just make sure there are two breathalyser kits in the car at all times (French law) and that you have change for the tolls. Free parking is available a few minutes from your hotel room at the bottom of a steep driveway, but staff will meet you to help with luggage.

Other

Corsica Ferries operates the Nice-Bastia route, as well as several others. The sailing takes around five hours. During peak summer months, ferries also make the hop between Italy and the east of Corsica – very handy for multi-centre trips.

Worth getting out of bed for

Onsite, you can turn the dial all the way down and clear your mind of all but that panorama of profuse greenery, casually majestic mountains and the cheeky blue-green glint in the Haute-Corse’s eye, the Bay of Florent. The pool is large enough for lazy up-and-down laps, yoga can be arranged on a terrace with a view, the teeny spa plumbs even deeper depths of relaxation, and the palazzo operates as a gallery of sorts. Take yourself on an art tour through Daniel Arsham’s crinkled wall, Wendy Wischer’s ethereal tree sculpture, Manuel Merida’s searingly blue circular canvases, and pieces by the likes of Anish Kapoor, ​​Kim Tschang Yeul and Yvan Rebyj. But, you may feel the call of the wild after a few days of prone wine sipping and afternoon naps. Corsica’s north has swerved development, leaving a plant-based playground you can thunder across on horseback or by SUV, soar through on a paraglider or microlight plane, and hike through with abandon. The Via Ferrata trek that traverses rocky outcrops, customs officer trails, old mule tracks and mountain winds is the most famous, or you could walk the Sentier des Douaniers, a two-hour Cap Corse coastal hike past fern forests, nature reserves, diving spots, chapels and towers. It begins at Macinaggio (about an hour and a half away by car). 

The town of Saint Florent is a 10-minute drive away; its main beach is called La Roya, and it’s got everything you need to pep up your holiday, if fun-boarding, jet-skiing, scuba diving and the like are your bag. With 1,000km of calm coastline and lakes prettily pooled in mountain valleys, watersports are something of an obsession here. Or, you could earn your supper on a rod, drag-net, harpoon or berley (where bait is scattered on the water) fishing trip; the chef will cook up your catches for dinner that evening. Or, enjoy nature in kill-free form by cruising to Scandola Nature Reserve, whose surreally luminous waters and volcanic jags of geometric terracotta rock look like the cover of a psychedelic funk album. And, aside from ‘good face’, the landscape gives unique delicacies, famously goat and sheep cheeses (creamy Brocciu is the stand-out) and top wines – a happy pairing. Tour the dairies and vineyards to get a taste for the region. Or for a more intriguing day trip, drive 40 minutes north to Nonza, on the Cap Corse. It’s a tiny village built on a black rocky pinnacle that plunges vertically into the sea. You can descend 600 steps to the black sand beach, or take photos from above.

Local restaurants

Formerly Genoese Corsica only officially became a part of France in the late 18th century; so while dining is swaggeringly Gallic in many of the island’s excellent eateries, menus also skew Italian and to the island’s own peculiarities. In Oletta, the hotel restaurant is the finest for date night, but laidback U Casa di u Nebbiu has accomplished French dishes: blushing meats, moules bobbing in cream, sticky tart tatin. At Le Potager du Nebbio close to Saint Florent, tables are set out in an arbour by the kitchen garden, so you can see exactly where your food comes from. Expect fabulously fresh fare such as tomato tatin, zucchini risotto with prawns and cheese samosas with garden herbs. North, along Cap Corse, is La Sassa, an entirely alfresco restaurant for good reason, because the views of the coast and cliffs are the stuff of spontaneous proposals, so be sure to book for sunset. The food upholds its reputation (earning it Michelin acclaim), with dishes such as a huge savoury cannelloni with truffle and brocciu cheese, caviar ravioli with hazelnut cream, red-tuna tataki and lobster salad, and decadent desserts. La Roya, a 10-minute drive away, also dabbles in swish seaside dining, with rustic ingredients given the haute treatment and platings you can’t help but photograph. 

Reviews

Photos Aethos Corsica reviews

Anonymous review

Every hotel featured is visited personally by members of our team, given the Smith seal of approval, and then anonymously reviewed. As soon as our reviewers have returned from this placid palazzu turned hotel in charmed Corsican village Oletta and unpacked their olive oil, liver sausage, ewe’s cheese and wine from the island’s authentic appellations, a full account of their stop, drop and flop break will be with you. In the meantime, to whet your wanderlust, here's a quick peek inside Aethos Corsica…

One almost expects the check-in desk bell at Aethos Corsica to be swapped out for a tingsha meditation chime, because everything from that point onwards unfolds at a soothing pace. Each of the just nine minimalist suites has plenty of breathing space (the smallest is 32sq m), all white walls and spare yet luxurious furnishings; views are a vast deep half-pipe of mountainous greenery – fruit groves, cypress trees, palms – flowing uninterrupted to the Bay of Florent; and there’s really little else to break the scenery’s spell than swimming and sipping Corsican wines – it’s been balming souls since the 17th century when the clue was in its name: Palazzu Serenu. Of course, there’s nothing so brash as a bell to hail your arrival – in fact, the bespoke desk is the work of French artist Paul de Pignol and it’s topped with his signature bronze figures. The hotel’s impressive art collection adds a little visual spice, like sparkly pasties on a stay in a state of undress: Wendy Wischer’s life-size tree drips sparkling strands of beads, Menial Merida’s Yves Klein-blue discs pep up the living room, Daniel Arsham’s puckered wall plays with the fabric of the building, and there are pieces by Anish Kapoor, Yvan Rebyj and Kim Tschang Yeul breaking up the suites’ monochrome. Dynamism is embedded in Corsica’s untamed landscape too: ruffle the placid aquamarine waters on a jet-ski or speedboat, harpoon fish to be cooked up for supper, gallop along mountain paths, hike out into the wilderness or paraglide gracefully from a granite bluff – or y’know, just sample sheep’s cheese and local wines until you can’t move. Because, until your internal spell-breaking tingsha chimes for check-out, it’s all about keeping things slow, easy and serene.

Price per night from $230.22

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