A truly luxurious hotel is hard to find. The surroundings may be beautiful but there may be something lacking. The Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees lives up to its luxury reputation, well almost.
The Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees is situated beside the beautiful and serene Lake Maggiore, in Italy in the small town of Stresa. Opened in 1863 this 5-star hotel strikes an impressive sight on the lakeside road. Ornate and beautiful in the sun, the hotel is THE place to stay in the area.
Ernest Hemingway has visited and wrote his book A Farewell To Arms whilst staying at this luxury hotel. Sometimes it feels like there aren’t many places he hasn’t been in the world, or maybe it is just coincidence that we seem to travel to all the places he has stayed!
What immediately struck me when we first drove up to the hotel was the gorgeous architecture and then the beautiful gardens. The gardens were established the same time as the hotel and are an exceptional feature, but more of that later.
The hotel is, as the name suggests, is very grand and reminds me of a palace in style. Amazing artwork covers the walls, marble statues are dotted around the foyer and stained glass windows shine brightly in the sun.
Check in was easy and straight forward, the receptionist was very pleasant and after check in she personally showed us up to our room, which was a lovely touch. I have to say the reception area must have been the most ornate I have ever seen.
The room in comparison to the rest of the hotel wasn’t of the same standard. Yes it had a marble bathroom and a jacuzzi bath but the bedspread was a little worn and tired and the room small. We found out later that there had been a mix-up and our room was given to another single person in our party instead. The photo above is of the bigger room. If you could afford it an upgrade to a lake view room would be highly recommended.
Breakfast was very good. A selection of pastries, cereals, cheese and meat, boiled eggs and fresh fruit were available. Hot dishes included streaky bacon and sausages. For that added touch of class smoked salmon was also available as well as Parma ham. Tea and coffee were made to order and brought to your table and the orange juice was particularly delicious and freshly squeezed. I also saw a few people having a glass of sparkling wine with breakfast, however, I am not sure if this was included in breakfast or at a supplement, as we weren’t offered a glass.
Staff at breakfast though were excellent and couldn’t do enough for us. Do you want a freshly made cappuccino? Check. Tomato ketchup with your bacon sandwich? Check.
Facilities include a tennis court, a small indoor pool in the spa area, sauna, and steam room, as well as an outdoor pool and a number of function rooms. There was a small but beautiful bar area and it was lovely to take our cocktails just outside the hotel and sit sipping them in the courtyard and admiring the lakeside view.
The bar staff, however, hadn’t gone to the school of politeness that the rest of the staff had and we felt were a little abrupt, which was a shame. A smile costs nothing in this day and age.
The public areas and corridors are undeniably beautiful. In fact, I think the reception area was jaw-droppingly gorgeous with amazing gilt detailing. Every corridor was decorated with works of art and over the years have been turned into miniature galleries, with each gallery having a specific historical theme. A little book in the hotel room acted as a guide and walkthrough to the galleries of corridors.
Now if you are a lover of beautiful gardens you have a treat in store as the garden houses a Japanese garden, 100-year-old trees, a small lake with Japanese Koi carp and statues in the Greek and Roman style. Check out our video above of the hotel to gain a better insight.
The Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees has a TripAdvisor certificate of excellence and it’s easy to see why. It’s a beautiful grand hotel, with a spa, attractive gardens and is perfectly located 5 minutes walk from the boat departure point in Stresa. Improved rooms and bar staff that are courteous and more importantly smile would make this hotel one of the best we have ever stayed in.
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