We love Palermo more than anywhere else in Italy, so much so that Bellini Founder Emily FitzRoy was married here. However, our only gripe for the past twenty years has been the complete lack of really good five star hotels and now, Hallelujah, St Rocco Forte has answered our prayers.

The Villa Igiea has been around since the 19th century; much loved for her Art Nouveau interiors and incredible views that stretch out across the Conca d’Oro (the golden shell) towards Monte Pellegrino in the distance, she was a favourite with Hollywood stars and Royalty during the 50’s and 60’s but of late had fallen on sad times and was no longer a hotel we could feel comfortable suggesting. Now that she is safely nestled in the bosom of the Forte family, we can recommend her once more.

Due to open this June for the summer season, then close again for the winter for additional renovations – we feel safe in suggesting this hotel right now before she opens with the knowledge that design supremo Olga Polizzi is overseeing the look and will be adding a Sicilian twist with her vision that has worked so successfully at the De Russie and De La Ville in Rome and the recently renovated Savoy in Florence, which we love. Service will be as slick as we would expect of all Rocco Forte hotels but we are happy to hear that some of the original team from the hotel are staying on.

Just a short hop from the airport, the Igeia is in a great spot for both exploring Palermo (a short taxi ride into town) or heading west for the day to see the Greek temple at Segesta; Erice known as the little town above the clouds or the ghostly white town of Trapani on the salt flats who gazes across at the lesser known Egadi islands (FYI Trapani is where you’ll find our favourite granita bar).

There are 66 bedrooms in total of which 22 are going to be suites, we can report back in more detail once we’ve been there in June but our hunch is the junior suites on the first floor with their vast tiled terraces will still be the best rooms in the house.