Luxury boutique hotel Principe Di Salina in Italy is a sun-kissed stay for Italian-island-hoppers. The whitewashed interiors are reminiscent of a Greek getaway, but don’t be fooled, the hotel’s all about creating authentic Italian experiences. Dine family-style on fine local fare in the ristorante della casa and stay hydrated in the scorching Salina sun with fruit juices and smoothies by the infinity pool. If you like things steamy, the heated spa bath soothes and relaxes – one session and you'll snooze like an old man after a bottle of limoncello. Not that you’ll need help catching some ‘z’s with the hotel’s super-soft beds and feather-light pillows – more than all white for the night.
11am. Earliest check-in, 2pm; both flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from £206.45 (€240), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include a buffet or à la carte breakfast.
The hotel is closed from the end of October till the beginning of April.
At the hotel
Living room with a library, laundry service, computer and fireplace, and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: TV, air-conditioning, minibar, and Ortigia bath products.
Our favourite rooms
Inside, all rooms are fairly similar with whitewashed walls, bright-white furnishings and marine-blue accents dotted throughout, so choose your room based on the view: the top-floor Superior Rooms have guaranteed ocean views, or opt for one of the Classic Rooms which overlook the hotel’s garden, where the grass is always greener.
After catching a few rays in the solarium or out on the deck, cool down with a dip in the large ocean-facing infinity pool. Or, watch the sun set from the geothermal spa tub, which is a soothing 40 degrees and fed by a natural spring 80 metres below the hotel. The mineral-rich waters are proven to help ease muscle pain and and boost circulation.
Channel the hotel’s Aeolian-inspired interiors with flowing white gowns that’ll billow in the sea-breeze and ocean-blue trunks for lazy days by the pool.
All floors are accessible via a lift and two of the Superior Rooms are specially-adapted for disabled guests.
Children over the age of 10 are welcome to stay, but on request. The restaurant has a highchair and the chef is happy to adapt dishes and heat up baby food.
Sit centrally if you’re feeling social, or keep your back to the wall to enjoy the views out the open windows.
Go for elegantly understated pieces brightened with bold accessories.
Feast on fresh island fare at the ristorante della casa. Enjoy light lunches and family-style Sicilian dinners around the large white, wooden table decorated with bouquets of blossoming flowers, slender candles and colourfully hand-painted earthenware. Variety is the spice of island life, as the menu here changes daily (and makes liberal use of the local seasonings), but you’re likely to dine on plenty of fresh fish from the morning markets and the island’s array of fruit and veg – proper Italian food.
Start the day with a real Italian espresso in the terrace bar, then return later for something even stronger – maybe a pre-dinner apéritif or a nightcap. The bar by the pool offers cocktails and fresh juices to cool off with in the day.
Breakfast is served 8am to 10.30am, lunch is from 12.30pm till 2.30pm and dinner is served 8pm till 9pm. The juice bar by the pool is open noon till 8pm and the main bar is open from 7pm to 10pm.
Order from the restaurant menu and dine in your room during the restaurant opening hours; you can also request cocktails when the bar is open.
Principe Di Salina is set on the sunny north coast of Salina in the Aeolian archipelago.
Fly direct to Catania Airport in Sicily then catch a taxi to the port of Milazzo, a two-hour drive away. From there, regular ferries cross to Santa Marina port on Salina (approximately a 90-minute ferry ride). From the port it’s a 30-minute drive along the coast to the hotel. Call our Smith24 team to arrange all your travel – the planes, boats and automobiles.
Salina is only a small island and it’s easy to find a taxi, so you won’t need your own car here. However, if you do want your own set of wheels, our Smith24 team can arrange a hire car for you to pick up at the port and hotel has free on-site parking.
Ferries run regularly between Milazzo and Santa Marina port in Salina; the journey takes roughly 90 minutes. Alternatively, you can arrive in style in a private speedboat; whatever your choice, our Smith24 team of travel experts are on hand to arrange your voyage.
Worth getting out of bed for
Although most of the island’s beaches are pebbly, they’re well worth a visit to swim and snorkel in the crystal-blue waters. Pollarabeach was the backdrop for the film Il Postino; Scariobeach is a calm bay that’s ideal for families; and Rinella, an area previously known for high volcanic activity, is a hotspot for snorkelling. The best way to view the island’s dramatic coastline and rich hinterland is by boat; ask the concierge at the hotel and they’ll happily book you an excursion. If you visit in spring or autumn, climb to the summit of one, or both, of the island’s two extinct volcanoes: Monte dei Porri is 860 metres high; and Monte Fossa delle Felci, the highest peak in the archipelago, stands at a soaring 962 metres tall. After such dizzying heights, we think a drink is well deserved: call our Smith24 team to arrange a tour and tasting of one of the island’s wineries: Fenech, Hauner, Azienda Agrobiologica d'Amico Salvatore and the seaside Tasca D'Almerita are just a few of our favourites.
La Pinnata del Monsù offers mountain views and deep dishes piled high with homemade pasta. Another mountain-side eatery with impressive ocean views is Agriturismo Galletta. One of the most popular restaurants on the island, this is the place to go all out, with multiple courses; start with a mixed dish of Aeolian specialities, followed by fish-stuffed spaghetti all'Italiana, calamaretti stuffed with malvasia, Filante mozzarella, capers and parsley, and lamb cutlet seasoned with local spices. The elegantly presented desserts of Trattoria Cucinotta (66 Via Risorgimento) are a must-try while in Santa Marina, but we’d also accept a dish of their alalunga alla'eoliana (pasta with albacore) or diced tuna flavoured with citrus fruits.
Don’t leave the island without grabbing a granita at Da Alfredo – the perfect antidote to the scorching Salina sun (+39 (0)90 984 3075). The cosy Pizzeria a’ Lumeredda is just around the corner from the hotel on Via San Lorenzo; fill up on Italian classics like arancini, pastas packed with olives and capers, thin and crispy pizzas, and trays of cream-filled cannoli. The palm-thatched beach bar, Maracaibo is the perfect spot for a laidback lunch in between bathing on Scario beach below. We recommend the paninis paired with a refreshing beer, or one of their sharing platters laden with fresh bruschetta, olives, capers and cheese.
It takes us a three-hour flight, a two-hour car ride and 90 minutes on a hydrofoil to reach Salina. But an island this good looking can afford to play hard-to-get. Imagine a picture-perfect mix of verdant hills dotted with sleepy cottages and volcanic cliffs plunging into calm azure waters: that’s Salina. It’s so darn pretty in fact that I’m too slack-jawed to respond when a kind-faced man welcomes us ashore and loads our cases into his minibus.
From our seats in the back I begin to apologise but he’s clearly seen this reaction many times before: 'Relax,' he says, 'you’re on Salina time now.' At ease, Mr Smith and I recline that bit more in our seats. It turns out the driver’s name is Francesco and he isn’t a driver at all but the owner of our luxury lodgings for the next two nights. He and his wife Silvana first fell in love with Salina decades ago while holidaying here with their children, he tells us. And after globetrotting careers they finally returned to their first love, bought a place and started a new adventure. That adventure was supposed to be a retirement project, he quips, but they are busier than ever due to the growing reputation of the hotel.
Fortunately they’re not going it alone – their daughter Anita is very much the heartbeat of Principe di Salina and delivers such a masterclass in hosting that we’re welcomed like long lost cousins as we slurp welcome drinks laced with home-grown lemons and mint. Check-in takes place on a whitewashed balcony seat, framed by linen drapes which seem to billow right on cue. And while there are forms to be signed neither Mr Smith nor I can take our eyes from the ocean view. Or the three further tiers of the hotel below, which artfully tumble away towards the sea.
We wander through lounges, decked out with hammocks (which Mr Smith insists on immediately testing one out), wicker sofas and scatter cushions, plus a treasure trove of artefacts from the family’s travels. There are books to read, music to play, fireplaces to hunker down beside, all making good on Anita’s promise that the hotel should feel like a home away from home.
I retrieve Mr Smith from said hammock, keen to see if the homely feeling translates to the 12
bedrooms – which of course it does. Locally made fixtures and furnishings add understated Sicilian charm to our white, cobalt and wicker room, while a shady patio with sea views creates the illusion of our own private beach-house. There’s also plenty of nods to the hotel’s focus on sustainability: a notable lack of plastic and local suppliers are used for everything from the organic shampoo to the tasselled beach towels.
We quickly learn Salina’s natural gifts are never more evident than when eating. The island’s clean seas and fertile soils have nurtured a gourmet larder: hills covered in wild capers, vines heavy with grapes for sweet Malvasia wine, trees overflowing with figs and citrus fruits. And, of course, catch of the day. We’ve pre-booked the communal dinner on Anita’s advice but are relieved it isn’t the awkward elbow-jostling affair we’d feared but rather an informal supper with guests spread out along a banquet length table. The family wander between us, cheers-ing and chatting. And there’s that view again, only this time an inky darkness and a smattering of stars constitute our backdrop.
The real sight for sore eyes is on our plates, though. The kitchen is Silvana’s domain, where the former doctor-turned-chef cooks up a daily changing menu of inspired Mediterranean fare. None more so than her lighter-than-air orange cheesecake and the homemade limoncello she insists we ease it down with. Safe to say, we barely remember our heads hitting the pillow that night.
The next morning over a breakfast of fruit, cheeses and preserves – and bacon and eggs for full-English fan Mr Smith – we debate the finer points of exploring the island or lolling by the dreamy infinity pool. We opt for the latter and happily decamp to a cloudlike day-bed with 360-views. We also make a good fist of grazing through the vibrant, health-but-tasty lunch offerings, blissfully delivered on bed trays so we don’t even need to sit up. We even give the ominous-looking hot-spring Jacuzzi a try, although the feel-good factor that sweeps over us we attribute to the lunchtime cocktails rather than the healing sulphuric waters.
The afternoon is spent a little more vertically, exploring the nearby village of Malfa, a five-minute amble away down cobbled arteries flushed with fuchsia-coloured bougainvillea vines. At the bottom is a market square with a handful of tavernas swarming with locals seeking coffee, granita and conversation. After half an hour of people watching (and gelato eating) we continue the road downwards and reach quiet cove with waters begging to be paddled in. We oblige, and then rent an inflatable mattress to flop onto rather than the pebbly beach.
To break up the trek back up the hill we choose the busiest-looking local restaurant to eat at. The food is good but we miss the side dish of hospitality which is served with everything at Principe di Salina. We even decline an aperitif, instead finding ourselves drawn ‘home’ to the familiarity of our hotel on the hill and its family. On our return, guests are peeling off after dinner, some calling it a night, others for a nightcap. We join the latter group decamped at the natty pool bar where Anita is holding court, reminiscing with a couple who married here and have now returned for their honeymoon. Others share tales of how the hotel team planned their trip from door-to-door, or secured a luxury yacht for their fishing trip or plotted a hiking trip via the local wineries.
Mr Smith and I admit we haven’t achieved anything quite so adventurous during our stay. Rather, this special hotel has lulled us into a gloriously languid pace. Perhaps this is what Francesco meant by 'Salina time', we wonder, on departure the next day. If only we could have stopped the clock for a little longer.