Via Donatori di Sangue 13, Gargnano
Lake Garda isn’t so much a stone’s throw from our window, more of a gentle lob. A wooden jetty juts out into the dark lake from a small terrace. Moored at the end is a sleek speedboat which has just deposited a foursome of stylish Italians… and their small pooch. Opposite, snow-capped mountains add drama to the frame. It’s the perfect Italian lakeside scene. The Baia d’Oro fits exactly the image I had in my head of what a hotel on an Italian Lake should look like. We’ve struck gold.
Arriving at the Hotel Baia d’Oro showed the ups and downs of staying in a lakeside Italian town. Gargnano is quaint and easy on the eye, lovely enough to tempt D.H. Lawrence to spend a few months being inspired there. The road to the hotel runs past a tiny harbour with a couple of restaurants that call your name. All good stuff. Then you reach the hotel, situated on a street that’s wide enough for one car, and you realise there’s nowhere to park. With a police car on our rear bumper we didn’t feel inclined to stop to unload the luggage. So Andy drove off whilst I jumped out to discover where we could dump the vehicle. As it happens, the hotel has free parking spaces in an underground car park barely 100 yards further on. Ideal.
The Hotel Baia d’Oro dates from 1958 with an exterior that is appropriately golden plaster contrasting against emerald green wooden shutters. Inside the décor is classically Italian; stylish and comfortable without being stuffy. It immediately feels homely – no surprise as it’s a friendly, family run affair. The location is wonderful. A walking route from the front door took us through the beautiful Italian countryside to Gardone where we caught a ferry that deposited us a couple of hundred metres from the hotel. Gargnano is the sort of place where spontaneous hand-holding as you stroll along cobbled streets is almost out of your control. We absolutely loved the hotel and the location.
Our room was quite minimalist in a sleek and sexy way with a wonderfully inviting leather sofa and a large bed beside two windows overlooking the outdoor terrace and Lake Garda. The windows with their views of the lake were a magnet during daylight hours and we watched the most dramatic, short-lived, thunderstorm from them. The lounge area was ideal for relaxing with a bottle of local red, planning the next day’s activities, after dark. There is a flat-screen TV but who needs it in a dream of a place like this? The room has free wifi, a minibar (with wine glasses – not always a given) and plenty of wardrobe space. The bathroom is well equipped (hairdryer, shower gels and a mix of useful accessories). All in all, an extremely pleasant space to spend time relaxing in.
There’s a cool little bar area but the jewel is the outside terrace on the lake. Breakfast here is simply a divine experience – Sicilian orange juice, fresh fruit, croissants and omelettes or bacon and eggs cooked to order and served with sensational views. With a terrace like this, you don’t really need any other facilities. There are sofas and sun loungers on the jetty if you want to soak up the sun and the scenery for just a little bit longer post breakfast.
The hotel’s restaurant has an excellent reputation with a menu full of dishes that could have been the who’s who of the best of Italian gastronomy, but we were lured away by the idea of harbour side dining.
There are a couple of delightfully quirky individual touches when it comes to facilities at the Baia d’Oro. There is an art gallery full of works by family member, painter Gian Battista Terzi. The Fireplace Room is designed especially for cigar lovers, although no-one was actually puffing on a Havana when we were there. And, if you fancy playing the role of Italian playboy or playgirl, the hotel has speedboats for hire to ferry you around the lake in style.
The Hotel Baia d’Oro simply oozes Italian chic whilst remaining casually friendly. Despite its film star good looks we felt relaxed from the second we stepped through the doors. It instantly became one of our all time favourite hotels.
Hotel Baia d’Oro;Via Donatori di Sangue 13, Gargnano; tel: +39 0365 71171; double rooms cost from around €180 per night.
Jack is co-editor, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to online travel sites and travel magazines. Follow Jack on Google+