Rolling down the hillside on Panarea, the smallest of the Aeolian islands, the über chic Hotel Raya is a charming boutique hotel set in one of the most relaxed locations in the Med. Just five minutes from the sea, the hotel is divided into three different ‘locations’ with luxury cottages dotted around the flower-decked hillside. Simple and fresh interiors are sprinkled with Asian-influenced art and offer the most spectacular views across to Stromboli. The excellent bistro serves up typically Mediterranean dishes with fresh, locally sourced produce.
Small and stocky, Panarea is the island embodiment of the sort of secretive Sicilian made popular by Hollywood mafia flicks. Thanks to the Raya, today it’s an ideal destination for the discerning footloose bon ton. The seaside location is embraced by a Mediterranean maquis straight out of a crime thriller by Camilleri (the peerless Don of Sicilian Noir). Prickly pears, hibiscus, age-old olive trees and bougainvillea dot the Mediterranean gorse until the craggy Timpone del Corvo, the island’s highest point. No cars, just ape-taxis, trails and donkey tracks; this is the Italy that time forgot.
Private terraces with panoramic views of the water, wonderfully eclectic, with a bright eye on freshness, simplicity and the sort of discreet touches you envy your impossibly cultured, aesthetically astute best friend’s country villa for, each of the Raya’s charming bungalows has been individually conceived and put together with the utmost loving care.
Why we like it
There’s no hotel more representative of the true nature of the Aeolian Islands than the Raya. The excellent, friendly service, stunning décor and fine cuisine come together like a vivacious group of lifelong friends, perfectly complimenting the higgledy-piggledy nature of the hotel’s three ‘locations’, the Raya Alto, Raya Basso and Raya Peppe Maria. There is an unshakeable joie de vivre pervading life on Panarea and the Raya is the perfect base to explore this rugged little rock in the water.