Hotel Raya

Panarea Epicenter, classic, expansive

Via Lani, 1, 98050 Panarea Messina, Italy

(39) 090-983013

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At a Glance

Panarea’s uncontested classic hotel is the Raya, which takes up much of San Pietro (where boats arrive) and includes a famous restaurant, a wild nightclub and rooms that are housed in a building up the hillside with gorgeous views.


In the same family since the 1960s, the hotel Raya is an Aeolian institution. The reception, concierge, restaurant, nightclub and some rooms are right in the harbor of San Pietro, while most of the other 36 rooms and suites are housed in a multi-story, peach-colored villa that stacks up the hillside like a vision straight out of Dr. Seuss. Walking between the two Rayas takes no time, but it’s up the hill through narrow passages, and at night it can be quite dark. Suffice it to say that at check-in, guests are handed flashlights.

Rooms are typical Aeolian Island style, with tiled floors and small windows (to keep out the heat) but most of the eclectic antiques were gathered on the owner's trips to Bali. Bathrooms are on the small side but stocked with some nice touches, like beach bags with the Raya logo (a turquoise stingray). The rooms to get are the ones with seaviews, of course, and many come with perfect little terraces and lounge chairs and have the most incredible vistas.

The restaurant is expensive and hard to get into during the summer months. Even better than the restaurant views, however, are those from the patio where breakfast is served, which sits on top of the Raya villa and is one of the most beautiful spots on this sleepy little island.

Who Should Stay

In the off-season (May, September, October), this is a great choice for couples who like the car-free ambience of tiny Panarea. During the summer months only serious party people should come, as the island transforms into a buzzing discotheque. Older travelers or people with young children will be turned off by the fact that at night, there are barely any lights and guests have to navigate the narrow passage ways up to the rooms with a flashlight.

Written by Simone Girner

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