Ed.: The Inspired Stays series highlights hotels we love around Italy. Each property is independently reviewed by an Italy Magazine writer, who is generally hosted on a complimentary basis. Our contributors do not accept compensation or gifts in exchange for specific types of coverage. We only showcase properties we would genuinely recommend overall.
Why we love it
Looming over the gateway to the island of Ortigia and its Porto Piccolo, the Ortea Palace pays homage to Syracuse’s layer-cake past with its glossy, Neoclassical-meets-Art Nouveau grandeur. Plaster moldings of ancient Greek faces preside over ornate Venetian chandeliers and an expansive glass-capped courtyard-turned-lobby of what was originally a Fascist-era post office, making for a striking first impression. As a recent entry to Marriott’s Autograph Collection, amenities abound, service is streamlined and facilities are immaculate, making for a worry-free stay for jet-setting families and couples alike. Not bad, as far as post offices go.
What to expect
From the basement spa to the terrace bar to the 75 rooms in between, there’s ample room to stretch out in the Ortea Palace, with an abundance of staff on their best behavior to ensure that you have everything you need. Centrally located and offering sweeping views of the sea, there isn’t much to complain about here, though the property’s hodgepodge design language might be a touch gaudy for some tastes.
Opened as a post office in 1920, the Ortea retains references to its initial function, including VIP entrances and some original signage. After major renovations, it opened as a hotel in 2018, then was bought out and rebranded as part of Marriott's Autograph Collection at the outset of summer 2023.
Location, location, location
The Ortea Palace is ideally located; upon crossing the bridge from Syracuse to old Ortigia Island — a 20-minute walk from the train station — the hotel will be one of the first things you see. Given the island’s small size, everything is within easy reach on foot, from tour services to wine bars.
Where you’ll sleep
Sunlit and immaculate, my top-floor suite offered a wraparound balcony overlooking the port, with the floor space to host a small party. Unfortunately, while the futurist faucets were nice to look at, they were difficult to operate in what was otherwise a luxurious bathroom. The bedroom’s large-format photos and gilded furniture felt a bit garish, but the top-notch build quality helped make up for that. All in all, whether you’re in one of the posh duplexes or the more Marriott-standard bedrooms, you can expect to sleep in quiet, climate-controlled bliss.
Dining & drinks
The hotel bar, dressed in backlit onyx and stocked with a well-curated selection of spirits, is a pleasant presence in the vast lobby, which felt a bit empty regardless of occupancy. Across the way, a sufficient breakfast buffet is available to all guests, with an optional menu for those looking for something more. The “Incanto” roof terrace features a weekly seafood aperitivo, plus tasting and a la carte menus highlighting Chef Salvatore Barbara’s simple, quality-driven take on Sicilian cuisine.
Staff here are attentive, abundant in numbers and eager to please. The bartender was passionate and knowledgeable, while the affable concierge, available to help with tours and the like, welcomed me with a bounty of sweets upon arrival.
In the hotel basement, an optional indoor pool and full-service spa can be accessed for those looking to unwind. Features include a sauna, hammam, whirlpool and a menu of treatment options, from massages to facials. Hotel guests also have free access to a modest gym.
The “family” suite is spread over two floors, with a sofa bed and separate bathroom available for the kids, and staff can be hired for babysitting duties.
You should know...
With only several months under its new banner, the Ortea Palace operated smoothly, and the staff’s warm welcome more than made up for any aesthetic qualms, making this a safe bet for anyone seeking out Ortigia’s high-end.
- The hotel has an elevator.
Features & amenities
- City setting
- Seaside setting
- Free WiFi
- Paid parking
- Fitness room
- Rooftop terrace
- Family friendly
Ortea Palace Hotel, Sicily, Autograph Collection
Via Nazario Sauro S.N.
Tel. +39 0248528017