Hotel Don Diego
What We Love
- The Jetsetter rate includes daily breakfast
- Located in a secluded cove with direct access to a private beach
- Stunning views of the islands of Tavolara and Molara
What To Know
- Great for families and active types; the sea is shallow and warm here, and there are tennis courts and a fitness center on-site
- Free WiFi and parking
- Only some of the villa-style rooms offer sea views
- Free WiFi
- Parking On Site
- Room Service
In a secluded cove on the northeast coast of Sardinia, overlooking the islands of Tavolara and Molara, Hotel Don Diego is a sprawling maze of terraced villa-style rooms, purple bougainvillea and winding stone walkways. Typically Sardinian in style, the hotel has pale stone walls and pastel interiors that contrast with the verdant green of the surrounding Mediterranean gardens. Relax in the freeform saltwater outdoor pool or make use of the private beach area; the shallow, warm swimming waters make this a great place for families. The guestrooms are simple and classic; some feature rock-hewn walls, others wood beam ceilings and traditional Italian arched fireplaces. The modern bathrooms are equipped with walk-in showers. You can sample Sardinian delicacies at the restaurant (the à la carte lunch menu features local seafood, cheeses and sharing plates) or sip a glass of Italian wine at the bar. There are tennis courts and a petite fitness center, and the hotel can arrange snorkeling, kayaking and cycling trips.
In the Area
The hotel is located on the Costa Smeralda, home to some of Italy’s (and Europe’s) best beaches, coves and resorts. One of the best places to catch some rays (it constantly tops travelers polls) is Cala Mariolu, a few hours to the south. Here you’ll find calm turquoise waters and a soft sand beach. Closer to the hotel is Porto Istana, which is great for families and has good snorkeling and water sports on offer. For a spot of Sardinian culture, head to Olbia, a city eight miles north of hotel, where you’ll find ancient churches, including the Basilica di San Simplicio, weekly markets and boutique shops. For an authentic food experience head to the family-owned farmhouse restaurant La Rocca Olbia, where you can dine alfresco on local, seasonal dishes.
How to Get There
The first thing you notice when you arrive is that the hotel is situated on a hilly descent to a dock and a beach. It is surrounded by pretty private villas with white walls and terracotta roofs set in the green hillside. The hotel is at the end of a long road (it is not really walking distance to the town).
Friendly staff on check in and lovely view of the islands from the infinity pool and beach. The reception area has a lovely relaxation area playing chill out music, it has a library, piano, tv and a panoramic terrace, it has a big villa feel and the staff make you feel at home. The receptionist also told me that you can rent a boat from the deck.
I was taken by buggy to my room. It was clean and quite spacious with ample toiletries. I had two bathrooms in my room. There is little sound proofing between rooms and you can hear what’s going on next door. The room was in a semi-detached cottage with wooden beams, bumpy white walls and comfy beds. The doors consist of 2 dark heavy wooden doors and then 2 glass doors inside which were not lockable. I had no sunlight from the doors because I did not want to leave my room unlocked when I was inside alone.
The layout of the hotel is slightly unfortunate because a lot of the non-sea view rooms are in cottages set back along the main road which accesses the hotel & private villas behind a public car park so I could hear vehicles driving past regularly this did not bother me but might some. See layout map in my pics.
My room was a good walk from the main hotel passing through a short uphill climb to get back to the main hotel, I would often pass elderly couples stopping to rest walking to and from their rooms. It was 33 degrees but there is a shaded walkway which shields you from the sun and cars for part of the walk. The air conditioned reception area has free iced-tea and juices and some glass cabinets selling holiday things.
There is are 2 not busy sea water pools with noodles for floating and a pool bar open til 3pm. The actual main beach is a public beach not private as per some reviews, the private beach part is a two level walkway with sunbeds. You can walk or do a short run along a path along the coast to find other beaches
The pool bar does pizzas, sandwiches, chips, salads (€7+ per dish) Fizzy drinks are quite expensive (€3.80) water is €4. Service can be slow because two serving waiters is not enough for all the families that want to eat when it is full. The WIFI worked everywhere in the resort even on the beach.
The highlight of my trip was spotting the land tortoises that live here, I felt lucky that they made an appearance. Dinner on half board was a four course meal, very tasty (try the tiramisu). Dinner is served in a lovely panoramic restaurant overlooking the beach and islands. You can also book a meal on Tavolara if you fancy it! I booked into the spa for a heavenly relax massage on my third day.
I caught the sunrise each morning which was breathtaking. The sun rises at the foot of the Island - see my pics - on very cloudy days the sunrise cannot be seen. The gym equipment is modern, no air con only a fan which for me was not cool enough - I would recommend putting in air-con.
Breakfast was served on a romantic tiled terrace decorated with bright pink flowers overlooking the sea. It was fun watch lightning over the sea when there was a storm one day. This is the first hotel that offered full salad, smoked salmon, roasted vegetables and a large natural honeycomb offering fresh honey on top of everything else at breakfast so I was impressed.
In the evening and early morning there were mosquitoes hanging around so bring repellent spray. In the evening the sun sets behind the hotel. The cost of a taxi to Olbia airport is €45.
In summary, Hotel don Diego is a picturesque, rustic continental villa-style hotel in a hilly coastal setting with a lot to offer. There is a real sense of total relaxation when you get here whether watching the sunrise from the beach or eating dinner in the panoramic restaurant. This is a hotel for complete relaxation and recharging.
The only negatives for me 1. Smoking is allowed during the day on the terrace which is really unpleasant if you don’t smoke or you are trying to eat. 2. The rooms at the back of the hotel are on the main road serving a public car park and private villas and suffer from traffic noise. 3. Sound proofing between the cottage rooms could be improved.
My husband and I have recently returned from a 3 week trip to northern Sardinia, a mountainous island in the Med surrounded by a mesmerizing turquoise and topaz sea. During our tour we had the opportunity to sample the best and the worst of Sardinian hospitality while staying at a mix of 4 star coastal hotels and up market inland mountain inns called, Agriturismos. The worst I think I have already adequately covered in another review but the best deserves special mention.
The hotel Don Diego just south of the A-lister’s Costa Smeralda (same coastline only cheaper) was designed with style and imagination making the most of its mountainside setting that trails down to the sea. It shuns the usual cement block concept of “pile em high, pack em in” construction opting instead for rows of adobe cottages tiered like a wedding cake each with its own sea view terrace looking down on the main reception, restaurants, gardens, pool terrace and finally the private sandy beach. There is even a tiny marina where you can hire a small boat to visit the off shore islands or stop for a swim.
Our room was a junior suite on the top level with a postcard view of the sea and islands with even its own private solarium on the roof terrace. Luggage and us were carried up to it by golf cart on arrival. A small touch, but a first indication of the thoughtful generosity that characterises this hotel and its staff.
A very warm welcome on arrival at reception was quickly followed up by an ice bucket holding a bottle of champagne by the same young man and the catering manageress also in attendance when it became known that were would be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary the next day. Wow! Now, that really was impressive and also indicative of the thoughtful attention we received during our whole stay.
The main building houses a spacious indoor/outdoor sitting area, the bar, main restaurant and a wrap-around open breakfast verandah offering each and every table a stunning view of the sea. The adjoining breakfast room was vast and showcased a sumptuous self-service buffet of sweet and savoury, hot and cold dishes to satisfy all tastes. It was closely monitored and I noticed immediately replenished as soon as anything became low. The result being that the buffet always looked fresh and tempting when you arrived rather than that it had been ravaged by the hordes.
Another generous touch was providing waiting staff who brought endless pots of hot drinks directly to your table. How nice not to have to stand in a long queue for a machine to produce a tiny cup of coffee while your breakfast lays getting cold at your table.
This and so many other small touches combined throughout our stay to make us feel valued guests and I also noticed that this was not reserved for us alone. Other hotels should take refresher courses at the Don Diego to learn how it should be done. When you make the kind of trip we did it soon becomes apparent who goes the extra mile and who does not.
As we left we felt like we were saying goodbye to friends. I do not hesitate to recommend the Hotel Diego and urge you to go soon to experience it for yourself. Ask for Maria or Roberta at reception who will do their best to arrange the kind of holiday you always hope to have but so rarely do.
We stayed at Hotel Don Diego for 5 nights. The room overlooked the Tyrrenhian sea, with a roof-top sun terrace. The food was outstanding. In particular, the staff went to great lengths to look after the gluten free dishes for one of the party.