The Best Italian Lakes and Where to Stay When There

Lake Como // Photo by eurotravel/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty Images

by Kiki Deere from The Telegraph, April 18, 2017

An insider's guide to the top hotels on the Italian Lakes, including Lake Como, Lake Garda, Lake Maggiore, Lake Iseo and Lake Orta.

Lake Como

Hemmed in by mountains, stylish Lake Como attracts its share of celebrities and tourists although its lakefront villages still manage to retain a traditional feel. Its shores are lined with grand Neo-classical villas backed by impressive gardens, a number of which are open to the public. Bellagio, a wonderfully picturesque town fringed by cypresses, is one of the major draws, as is pretty Varenna, with its narrow winding streets nestled on a rock face. With smart hotels aplenty, Lake Como is the place to see and be seen.

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Where to stay

Grand Hotel Tremezzo Lake Como, Italian Lakes, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

A stylish five-star property with Art Nouveau interiors a stone’s throw away from Villa Carlotta. Facilities include a floating swimming pool, lush grounds with fitness trail, tennis court and spa. Rooms have large bow windows or terraces with lake or garden views. Read expert review. From £332per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com.

Il Sereno Lake Como, Italian Lakes, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

Leading designer Patricia Urquiola is the mastermind behind this elegant yet relaxed hotel. Interiors are made of local wood, stone and fibres, while floor-to-ceiling windows draw one’s attention to the beautiful panorama outside. The excellent restaurant serves simple dishes with a contemporary touch. Read expert review. From £713per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Mr & Mrs Smith. 

The best Lake Como hotels

Lake Garda

Lake Garda’s sheer size – it is Italy’s largest lake – makes it exceptionally diverse. The southern shore is characterised by gentle hills, while to the north steep cliffs fringe the waters. It is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of sports including windsurfing, canyoning and mountain biking. There’s plenty of culture too – the Vittoriale degli Italiani provides a fascinating glimpse into the life of one of Italy’s greatest poets, while the 13th-century Castello Scaligero is where Goethe was briefly imprisoned in 1786.

Where to stay

Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli Lake Garda, Italian Lakes, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

Set in eight-acre grounds on the western shore of Lake Garda, this exclusive hotel is located in a historic 19th-century villa. Interiors have been lavishly restored and feature frescoed ceilings, Venetian mirrors and Art Nouveau lamps. The 21 rooms are decorated with antiques and custom-made furnishings. Read expert review. From £933per night. 

Lefay Resort & Spa Gargnano, Italian Lakes, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

Located above the village of Gargnano, this eco-resort with award-winning spa was constructed using stone pillars and wooden beams, taking inspiration from Lake Garda’s lemon houses. Rooms feature local walnut and olive floors, and the restaurants serve Mediterranean dishes using local ingredients. Read expert review. From £181per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com.

The best Lake Garda hotels

Lake Iseo

Pretty Lake Iseo is a quiet place offering excellent trekking and mountain biking opportunities. Its lake island, Monte Isola, is Europe’s largest, sprinkled with picturesque fishing villages and best explored on two wheels. The Via Valeriana, once an ancient trading route, is a popular hiking route that snakes through olive groves and vineyards, while the village of Zone is home to impressive rocky pyramids topped by granite boulders. Franciacorta, a hilly region to the southeast, produces the country’s finest sparkling wine.

Where to stay

Casa Visnenza Lake Iseo, Italian Lakes, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

Owners Massimo and Marzia go out of their way to make guests feel at home, and are a mine of information on the local area, at this B&B set in a former silk mill. The interiors are cosy and welcoming with rustic wooden fittings and period furniture, and breakfast consists of local specialities. Read expert review. From £43per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com.

L'Albereta Erbusco, Lake Iseo, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

This attractive hotel, overlooking the vineyards of Franciacorta and Lake Iseo beyond, is housed in a 19th-century residence. The property’s main draw is the state-of-the-art health and medical spa, and there are lovely views of the surrounding countryside to be enjoyed from VistaLago BistroRead expert review. From £202per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com.

The best Lake Iseo hotels

Lake Maggiore

Once a popular resort for European nobility, Lake Maggiore is today a peaceful spot with a smattering of sights, along with walking and mountain biking routes. Stresa and Pallanza look out onto the Golfo Borromeo, home to the beautiful Isole Borromee. Isola Bella is the highlight, with a Baroque palazzo and terraced gardens commanding impressive views. The northern part of the lake is more sedate, with tranquil lakeside villages such as Cannero and Cannobio.

Where to stay

Villa & Palazzo Aminta Hotel Beauty & Spa Stresa, Lake Maggiore, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

Located just north of Stresa, this sumptuous hotel set within its own grounds features Venetian-style floors, marble columns and fine tapestries. Rooms are lavishly furnished with stuccos, Murano glass chandeliers and marble bathrooms. Facilities include an outdoor swimming pool and private beach. Read expert review. From £228per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com

Hotel Verbano Lake Maggiore, Italian Lakes, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

This peaceful hotel on Isola Superiore is a short boat ride from the town of Stresa on the mainland, and a short way from the Borromean Islands of Isola Bella and Isola Madre. Rooms are simply furnished, although all have gorgeous lake views. The restaurant serves regional cuisine with an emphasis on lake fish dishes. Read expert review. From £95per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com.

The best Lake Maggiore hotels

Lake Orta

Lying entirely in Piedmont, small Lake Orta is little known although it is undoubtedly one of the most captivating of the lakes. The medieval village of Orta San Giulia is gorgeous, with narrow cobbled streets and a picturesque piazza overlooking the marina. Lying just offshore, Isola San Giulio is another draw, home to a monastery housing a community of nuns. Lake Orta’s small size and tranquil atmosphere make it ideal for a romantic weekend away.

Where to stay

Villa Crespi Lake Orta, Italian Lakes, Italy

9Telegraph expert rating

Located in its own private grounds, this fine historical residence was built at the end of the 19th-century in Moorish style. The interior features incredibly ornate décor. Renowned Italian chef and MasterChef Italy judge Antonino Cannavacciuolo owns and runs the hotel’s two Michelin-starred restaurant. Read expert review. From £289per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com

Al Dom Lake Orta, Italian Lakes, Italy

8Telegraph expert rating

A welcoming B&B in a refurbished, late 18th-century building. The four rooms have en-suite bathrooms and little balconies overlooking Lake Orta. Breakfast is served in a cosy dining area with fireplace, and there’s a verdant lake-front garden and terrace with deck chairs facing the island of Orta San Giulio. Read expert review. From £133per night. Check availability. Rates provided by Booking.com.

The best Lake Orta hotels 

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This article was written by Kiki Deere from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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