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Grand Hotel Timeo, Taormina

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
59 Via Teatro Greco
Taormina , Sicily
Italy 98039
Tel: 39 0942 627 0200's insider take:

Sitting above the photogenic Bay of Naxos, near Taormina's 2,500-year-old Greek amphitheater, the circa 1873 neoclassical Grand Hotel Timeo was a natural Sicilian muse from the start. D.H. Lawrence lived here for four years, followed by guests such as Jean Cocteau and Tennessee Williams. An old hand at adopting and refurbishing historic properties, Orient-Express wisely took a respectful approach when it bought the fading diva in 2010. Final renovations won't be completed until 2012, but many of the hotel's 72 rooms have already been refreshed with tech updates (plasma flat-screen TVs, complimentary Wi-Fi) and the kind of sparing makeover (new parquet floors, marble bathrooms, gilded mirrors, and local landscapes) that doesn't disturb the old-world Mediterranean vibe. Most rooms have a balcony or terrace overlooking the bay or the landscaped parkland that frames a pool and wellness center. We recommend starting the evening with a limoncello at the Literary Terrace, where Audrey Hepburn once swanned about, before sitting down to a classic Sicilian plate of pasta with sardines at the hotel restaurant, Il Dito e la Luna. When booking, make sure that you snag a revamped room and avoid the 31 spaces in the Villa Flora across the road—they don't have the grandeur or sweeping views of the main building's accommodations.—Raphael Kadushin

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.