5-star luxury at Palermo’s Grand Hotel Wagner

If walls could speak, the Grand Wagner Hotel would tell the history of Palermo over past 120 years. Built as a palazzo for a noble family in the early 1900s, it would be in turn home to a national institute for worker’s assistance during the Fascist period, a bomb shelter and later headquarters for British and American troops in WWII, an office and costume warehouse for a famed theater and today the only 5-star downtown accommodations in the vibrant city.
Hotel Wagner, Palermo
The hotel, restored to its “Liberty Barocco” grandeur, is full of character, elegantly designed and classic.

Restored in 2007 using craftsmen and architects skilled in Liberty period construction, it now has 61 big and beautiful rooms ranging from suites to superior, deluxe and classic. Elegant interiors, chandeliers, an ancient fireplace, stately marble staircases and colonnades accurately evoke its birth in the fabulous Belle Epoque. Its lobby is a place where visitors soak in the ambience.

The lobby’s chandelier is a copy of the original made for use in the final ball scene of iconic Italian film Il Gattopardo directed by Luchino Visconti and starring Claudia Cardinale, Burt Lancaster and Alain Delon.

“Guests enjoy living in an atmosphere of another time,” says Gisella Catanzaro, the hotel’s director. “It has the beauty of the past and yet a warm atmosphere that sets them at ease.” Ironwork, gold leaf on the walls and period carpeting from Brighton in the UK add to the allure.

The hotel is full of character, elegantly designed and classic. It is a symphony of red velvet and green with a majestic marble staircase sweeping up to the opulent rooms. The décor has been restored to its “Liberty Barocco” grandeur, transporting guests to another world.

It is an architectural gem true to both the spirit and detail of its past thanks to the expertise of architects and artisans who infused the Palazzo with Sicilianity: Elegance, colors and a sense of warmth starting from the wooden panels of the boiserie in the hall. The Palermitan setting is quickly apparent with a visual language at play that is unique to the city.

The Grand Hotel Wagner is now owned and operated by Coretur Hotels under the administration of Giuseppe Cassarà, also owner of Coretur Viaggi e Turismo, an incoming tour operator for more than 30 years. Located on namesake Via Richard Wagner near where the famed German composer and his family lived for a time, this street in Palermo and the city itself inspired passages in some operas written by Wagner.
Hotel Wagner, Palermo
Beauty of the past and yet a warm atmosphere that sets guests at ease.

The hotel’s many amenities and services include an abundant and free Sicilian breakfast with cannolis that guests fill themselves with freshù ricotta. Also on offer are range of croissants warm from the bakery, sublime pastries, homemade cakes and jams. There is the soft, cool seduction of pistachio and chocolate, the sensory delight of fresh fruit of the season. An international breakfast is also served. Other amenities include an intimate bar and a spa that offers treatments aplenty and an oasis of calm.

“The purchase of the Grand Wagner Hotel is a gift to the city in the heart of the city,” says the director. In the beating heart of Palermo, the hotel’s guests include actors, princes and princesses, diplomats, politicians, businessmen and families that become friends. Guests also include those from the U.S., England, France, Japan and other Asian countries, Australia and Argentina. They lavish in the luxury as well as the property’s wellness and beauty centers. The experience resonates with the city of Palermo, itself an architecturally astounding city with a vast and textured history.

“Palermo is such an incredible mix of cultures,” says Gisella. After so many different “visitors” that controlled the city – how she characterizes what others call rulers – the jewel on the Mediterranean is a symbol of tolerance. Today Palermo continues to hum with color and character, just as it did through “visits” by the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Normans, Spanish and French.
Hotel Wagner, Palermo
Guests enjoy the atmosphere of another time, the fabulous Belle Epoque.

The Company Coretur, which started as a tour company and grew into hotel operator, has another property in greater Palermo, at nearby Terrasini-Cinisi Mare directly on the beach. The Florio Park Hotel offers a private beach, 210 rooms, a swimming pool and its sprawling Florio Beauty House wellness center where Moroccan traditional heat experiences are the spa’s core: hamman (steam), a rhassoul (mud chamber) and a salt-infused steam room. Expect excellent treatments in the personalized program.

For elegance, guest always have the Grand Wagner Hotel, where love of luxury and a very welcoming staff are ingrained.

“Palermo has been the meeting place for so many cultures, people and stories,” says the director. “Those people chose not to demolish what they found, but ‘contaminate’ it with their own cultural heritage. Today we can enjoy such richness in this stunning city.”

“The city is a symbol of tolerance and harmony. Living together, mixing with other ethnicities in Palermo, has always been the fortunate case. Hospitality is born in us.”

More photos