What can you say about an art nouveau villa that was designed by Ernesto Basile for the Florio family (of tuna and Marsala-wine fame)? This is Palermo's top hotel, located around 3km north of the city centre and with its own private beach, swimming pool, tennis court, spa centre, gym and restaurants. The rooms are expectantly elegant, with blissful beds and palatial bathrooms.

Prices drop significantly in the low season, when mere mortals get a taste of the high life. While the hotel is tricky to reach without a car/private chauffeur/taxi, it does offer a free shuttle bus service to central Palermo from late March to October.