Inside the luxury location seen in season 2 of White Lotus

Inside White Lotus’s luxury hotel location the San Domenico Palace, whose guests include Oscar Wilde and Sophia Loren and a suite can cost over €7,000 a night

  • HBO’s smash hit satirical dramedy White Lotus has returned to the small screen 
  • Standing in as show’s fictional hotel is the Four Seasons San Domenico Palace
  • Luxury hotel is in the Sicilian hilltop town of Taormina beside the Ionian Sea
  • It has a rich history and was once a monastery and German army headquarters 

As White Lotus has returned to the small screen, many viewers have noted the stunning hotel location where the satirical dramedy has been filmed. 

Serving as the main location for the second season of the hit HBO series, which showcases the lives of rich and famous hotel guests, is a luxury Italian hotel which has its own rich history – which includes an impressive rota of famous guests including Oscar Wilde.

The Four Seasons Hotel San Domenico Palace, where a suite can cost upwards of €7,000 a night, is in the Sicilian hilltop town of Taormina beside the Ionian Sea and below an active volcano called Mount Etna. 

Located near vineyards, an ancient Greek theatre, medieval villages, it makes a beautiful setting for the fictional White Lotus hotel and spa.

The Four Seasons Hotel San Domenico Palace (pictured) is a former 14th-century convent, located beside the Ionian Sea and below an active volcano called Mount Etna

The hotel was bequeathed to the San Dominican religious order by Baron Damiano Rosso d’Altavilla, a benefactor of the order, who had turned to the monastic life himself. The order received the building in 1430, five years after the Baron’s death. 

After the convent was established in the building, retaining a small community which never exceeded 40, over the coming centuries.

Then, some 400 years later in 1866, a law was passed by the Italian state  in an effort to suppress religious orders and confiscate their assets.

State representatives came to confiscate the building, and despite there being only one monk there, Vincenzo Bottari Cacciola, they had to use force to take the keys as he was not willing to hand it over.

The lavish building, which serves as a location in the second season of the hit HBO show, has been visited by numerous high profile guests

Rich history: the hotel (pictured) was once a convent, before becoming one of Europe’s premiere travel destinations

Vincenzo went on to unearth an ancient document that had been kept in secret by the brothers – Damiano Rosso’s will.

As the will stated that the building had only been lent to the Dominicans, this meant it could not be requisitioned by the state, so the monk approached a descendant of Damiano Rosso, Prince Cerami, who reacquired ownership rights to the convent.

It was Prince Cerami’s vision to transform the convent into a hotel, and his addition of a large wing in the Liberty architectural style, ensured the building’s status as one of Europe’s first grand hotels.

With Taormina becoming a fashionable location for European tourists at the time, with the town known for its wild parties and a liberal sexual atmosphere, the hotel became a renowned global destination.

Jennifer Coolidge (pictured with actor Jon Gries) returns as Tanya McQuoid in the new series of The White Lotus

High profile guests visited through the early 1900s, including King Edward VII the second, Baron Rothschild, Oscar Wilde and DH Lawrence.

The hotel’s fortunes took a turn in 1943, when it was bombed by the Allies while being used as a headquarters by the German army.

It was several years until the hotel was reopened, in 1926, after the convent, which was almost totally destroyed during the war. 

Upon its reopening, it hosted many lavish parties. By the 1950s, many of the most famous stage and screen visited the location, including Greta Garbo, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. 

The magnificient location (pictured) was visited by King Edward VII the second, Baron Rothschild, Oscar Wilde and DH Lawrence in the early 1900s

After being bombed during the war, the San Domenico Palace Hotel (pictured) was rebuilt, re-opening in 1946

More recently, the hotel hosted political leaders for a G7 summit meeting in 2017.

Now more people are learning about the San Domenico Palace thanks to its use a location in White Lotus’s second season.

The season’s storyline, which features a prostitute soliciting clients from a luxury hotel, has been described as ‘ringing true’ by author Imogen Edwards-Jones, who wrote the Hotel Babylon books.

Writing in The Times, she noted that while researching the books, some concierges she met even helped travelling male clients meet up with sex workers who came to the hotels – with an astonishing nine out of 10 men travelling alone enquiring about sex services.  

She claimed that, in some hotels, guests were able to book prostitutes purely by calling down to reception and asking for ‘extra pillows’.

The programme, a satirical dramedy, showcases the lives of rich and famous hotel guests (pictured L-R: actors Michael Imperioli and John Gries)

From her experience studying the luxury establishments, Imogen claimed many hotel bars and restaurants allowed prostitutes to hang around and look for work, with plenty of women coming to know the hotels ‘like the back of their hand’.  

While the sex workers were often a common yet niggling problem for management and concierges at hotels, she added that, sometimes, the bigger issue was how the hotel staff would ‘make money out of them’.

She claimed: ‘Nothing annoys a hotel more than a deal going down on their premises without them making a cut.’  

As well as its new location, the second season of White Lotus has an almost all-new cast, with just Jennifer Coolidge reprising her role of Tanya McQuoid from season 1.

Other cast members include Michael Imperioli, Sabrina Impacciatore,  Simona Tabasco, and Beatrice Grannò. 

White Lotus season 2 is available to watch in the UK on Sky Atlantic. 






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