What a contrast the Arathena Rocks Hotel was with our other Sicilian accommodation. Up until this point we'd stayed in small scale, private places, this was a very popular mid-range seaside hotel. Not a very big one (50 rooms) and family-run with traditionlal Sicilian style furnishings so certainly not an anonymous could-be-anywhere sort of place. Not luxurious, but very spacious, clean and friendly - the sort of place you could see people coming back to year after year
The location was great, right on the seafront with a view of Taormina across the other side of the Bay of Naxos at the front and Mt Etna from the rear. The hotel's public spaces, glass fronted lounges and the bar are bright and light. Upstairs, the white-painted corridors and landings are furnished with traditional painted furniture and flower-painted doors opened into simply furnished large white bedrooms. The bathroom was adequate but a proper shower (and a shower curtain) would have suited us better. Wide verandas led down to attractive gardens and a pool carved out of the volcanic rock shoreline. The days were warm enough to swim, but not yet high season so, being after-breakfast swimmers and not sun-bathers meant we had the pool area almost to ourselves before taking off for a day's sightseeing.
Breakfast was the most ordinary of all the breakfasts we had in Sicily but I think we were somewhat spoilt at our other places. I would guess this was pretty standard fare for this class of hotel all over Italy. We took the advice of earlier guest reviewers and avoided the restaurant for our evening meals - the town offered plenty of other choices and the walk in and out was very pleasant.
I'm not sure that I'd stay here again, but that's more because I probably wouldn't come back to Giardini-Naxos, or Taormina - there are so many wonderful places I missed out on this time - than any other reason. I think it delivers all that it sets out to, and there's a certain cheesy charm about it that's quite endearing. It's been a long time since I've stayed in a hotel like this, and there was certainly a sense of slightly by-gone times about it - I'd say the 60s. Candlewick bedspreads and the dinner menu on a stand outside the dining room were a bit of a give away, but there was something kind of nice about it all. You couldn't fault the welcome, the maids were very sweet in their black uniforms, white caps and aprons, Nonno appeared every afternoon to sit in a chair near reception and keep an eye on the comings and goings, 3 generational families were staying there together, one guest had brought her dachshund with her - all in all, it was a nice place to spend our last few days on the island.