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
My husband and I stayed here for three nights in September and loved everything about the Don Diego. Ok, it is rather pricy for what it is (a quirky 4*), but its beautiful location and charming lay-out and interiors ticked all the boxes for us.
Staff at reception (Georgia), the restaurant (Paola) and the beach (sorry, I didn’t catch the gentleman’s name; he was there to assign sunbeds and help out with all things beachy) were extremely kind and helpful. Giuan (sorry for the spelling, it was the Sardinian version of Giovanni) was everywhere, always ready to help out with parking, bags and any other logistics. Parking was really easy, by the way, with numerous spaces available above and below reception.
We had booked a junior suite and had requested a quiet location with a lovely view of Tavolara island. We were duly assigned suite 410 which had a great location with a gorgeous terrace from which I got stunning sunrise pictures. The village-style lay-out means that you can hear other guests walking past, as well as the cleaning ladies in the morning, but it wasn’t a big issue.
Everything about the Don Diego is typically Italian – there are lots of beautiful touches everywhere, from the rustic looking rooms with some very stylish and arty touches, the stunning stain-glass windows and Tiffany lamps in the public areas, the waterfall in reception and the wonderfully well-kept plants and flowers everywhere. Yes, sometimes it is style over substance or functionality but the results are so aesthetically pleasing that they just gladden the heart! Apart from the rustic and slightly “cavy” feel, our room had all mod cons: safe, hairdryer, kettle, mini-bar, make-up mirror, slippers, complimentary water and toiletries and a well-functioning wi-fi.
We found the breakfast buffet to be the best of all the hotels we stayed at in Sardinia – there was a large cold meat selection, fresh salmon and the most delicious selection of chocolate and custard-filled pastries. The views from the breakfast terrace were simply stunning and added to the laid-back, “spoil-yourself” experience. We enjoyed one dinner at the hotel restaurant and did not like the (indoor) setting as much. The food, however, was excellent (the service, on the other hand, was slightly disorganised). We had the Spaghetti aglio e vongole and the Culurgiones (local gnocchi) – both were excellent. My husband then enjoyed a very large T-bone steak which came medium rare, just as ordered. I had the seabass with a courgette crust which was both innovative and delicious! The white chocolate and salted almonds desert was an amazing contrast in flavours and simply to die for. We thought the cost of 110 Euro (including two glasses of wine, coffee and a large bottle of water) was justified for what we got. Alternatively, you can always walk along the drive to the main road and enjoy some of the best pizza in Sardinia at Lu Bagnu for a fraction of the price.
Both the beach and pool areas were lovely with plenty of sun-loungers available at both (mid-September). There is also a large shower/toilet-changing room area available by the pool which I imagine would come in very useful for guests with late check-out.
Given the hotel’s fabulous location only a few miles outside Olbia but within driving distance of some of the most stunning beaches on the island (Cala Brandinchi, la Cinta) we would highly recommend this charming place as a base for exploring the area. We would love to return sometime.
We’ve ‘known’ of this place for some years but always shunned it because of its somewhat ‘old fashioned’ reputation.
Spent two nights here (20 minutes from OLB) and had a great time. Yes the layout and style do hark back to the early days of tourism in the north east, but it is now the more interesting for it. Main buildings are the place to stay and not the ‘block’. Stunning views and easy access to the beach and pool. Great breakfast but evening restaurant a bit pricey for the quality. Easy to hire a RHiB from their own harbour and not a rip off. Their BWA boats are ok. Great staff particularly Lucca on reception
Classic example of how a hotel’s management poorly uses the beautiful setting surrounding this establishment. Really bad food - breakfast is cold, tasteless, the food that is eaten is not refilled; lunch - a menu of five meals does not change for seven days straight. Dinner can be described as the second part of lunch, as the menu does not change. Dinner is ridiculously overpriced - for 40€ ‘enjoy’ a pocket-size piece of fish, dusted with potato flakes with a side of a spoonful of peas. The only good thing from dinner were the Sardinian red and white wines and the ice cream, which they ran out of at the last day of our stay.
The only entertainment here was a game of Chess. Of course, the hotel uses this and they increase the pricing, as there are no restaurants, bars or any places to go that are near the hotel.
The good thing about the hotel is the setting of beautiful surroundings, a good beach, the hotel is very peaceful, quiet, there are friendly staff, very clean rooms. But the shower water was cold, there were no bathrobes, and a 2hour later checkout costs 150€ (this is with a discount)(the first time we had to pay for a later checkout in any hotel).