Immersed in the historic city centre, a meeting place for the entrepreneurial bourgeoisie of the time, the Grand Hotel et des Palmes evokes suggestions of the past, when it was still the home of the English Whitaker family.
the English entrepreneurs made the capital their private nest, constructing the building in the shade of the palm trees that still outline the facade today and from which its name derives. Curious and full of mystery, the secret tunnel that led from the center of the hotel to the Anglican Church remains one of the most significant signs of the building’s English origin.
Transformed into a luxury hotel by the entrepreneur Enrico Ragusa, in 1874, it became the most fashionable city hotel. An elegance that is a becoming symbol of Art Nouveau culture and art, thanks to the flashes and ingenuity of the master Ernesto Basile, one of the greatest exponents of Art Nouveau.
The modifications of Basile give new life to the building, keeping the structure unchanged, but revisiting the spaces according to the new standards of international hotel architecture. Splendid polychrome windows create light effects in contrast to the shaded areas, the colonnades of the hall offer a perspective image of the ground floor, and the ornaments, and furnishings of the main halls, such as antique furniture, precious majolica, porcelain, and tapestries, transform the hotel into a city museum.
An iconic charm of the hotel enchanted the composer Richard Wagner. During his long stay in Palermo, together with his wife Cosima Liszt, he found the true inspiration to complete the writing of Parsifal, between November 1881 and July 1882. In the suite named after him today, he transcribed the score of the last act of the opera by means of the grand piano, a gift from his father-in-law Franz Liszt, that is still kept in the room.