How much does it cost to stay at the real White Lotus in Sicily? Plus, the differences to the show's hotel
It might not be known as the White Lotus in the real world, but this Sicilian resort is equally as luxurious
While I really enjoyed the first season of HBO's The White Lotus, it was season two that really captured my imagination. While the first foray of this dark comedy was set in paradise - a Hawaiian island no less - the Sicilian location of season two gave the series an Italian chicness that elevated the drama to new realms.
Of course, this chicness wasn't always down to the hotel guests, whose somewhat questionable fashion choices have been social media fodder over the course of this seven-episode limited series. It's the hotel itself that is the star, and while it may not be called The White Lotus in real life, it's still a place you can visit and stay at.
After the season finale of this twisted murder mystery, I might have a few misgivings about visiting Sicily (and I think I'll be especially cautious when dismounting a private yacht, should the unlikely occasion ever arise), but the siren call of this hotel is, I'm sure, one that's ringing in many people's ears. But as one of the best hotels in Italy, the question is, do we have pockets deep enough to afford a room?
High is Livingetc.com's deputy editor, and an experienced homes and property journalist. Having just finished this season of The White Lotus (no spoilers here), he set out to find a little more about the real-world location of this dark comedy.
How much does it cost to stay at the White Lotus in Sicily?
While the hotel The White Lotus is a real location, it's obviously not called that in the real world. Instead, the hotel, perched on a rocky outcrop in Taormina, is called the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace.
Once a 14th-century convent, the hotel plays host to most of the iconic settings from this season, including the clifftop infinity pool, Italian gardens and grand interiors.
In The White Lotus, the hotel is an exclusive escape for the mega-rich – people for who budget is not an issue, and unfortunately for those hoping to frequent the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace, it's not far from the truth of its real-life counterpart. In peak season, prices start from around $2,700 a night, while a room similar to Tanya's suite in the program will set you back over $7,000 per night.
In its latest incarnation as a hotel, opening in 1946, it's played host to iconic celebrities from Audrey Hepburn to Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren, as well as a G7 summit meeting.
Four Seasons San Domenico Palace
You can book to stay at this hotel direct through the Four Seasons site, or through intermediaries like Booking.com
What are the differences between the White Lotus and the real hotel?
By in large, the hotel is the same luxurious space we're familiar with from the small screen. Beautiful, baroque architecture and artwork riff off of modern furnishings, creating interiors that feel opulent, but not as traditional as the grand palazzos also explored in The White Lotus.
The sweeping cocktail bar is virtually identical as it is shown in the HBO show, despite lacking the piano, which plays an important part in at least one storyline.
As the series draws to a close, Theo James' character remarks of the restaurant: 'I don’t know why they keep giving us these menus. We know it back to front by now.' The guests visiting the fictional White Lotus spend every night at the hotel restaurant, in spite of the busy, cultural hotspot of Taormina at least four Michelin-starred restaurants.
However, given the real Four Seasons San Domenico Palace holds one of those stars, along with an incredible view of the Ionian Sea, it's perhaps unsurprising the guests would be reluctant to try elsewhere. The restaurant, Principe Cerami, focuses on modern, Italian cuisine.
It's clear that the bedrooms have been slightly re-styled for The White Lotus, too. In a show where almost every decision, from the sartorial choices of the characters to the interiors of the hotel, has a hidden meaning, several interesting introductions are made to the spaces.
For one, the head-shaped vases, explained to the guests as testa di moro by the hotel staff when shown to their rooms, relating to a Sicilian legend that foreshadows some of the drama that later unfolds in the series. The real rooms feel, in reality, a little blander for the lack of some of these decorative objects, yet always defer to the architecture and the views, which are, undoubtedly, the real draw to the hotel.
Hugh is the Deputy Editor of Livingetc.com. From working on a number of home, design and property publications and websites, including Grand Designs, ICON and specialist kitchen and bathroom magazines, Hugh has developed a passion for modern architecture, impactful interiors and green homes. Whether moonlighting as an interior decorator for private clients or renovating the Victorian terrace in Essex where he lives (DIYing as much of the work as possible), you’ll find that Hugh has an overarching fondness for luxurious minimalism, abstract shapes and all things beige. He’s just finished a kitchen and garden renovation, and has eyes set on a bathroom makeover for 2023.
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