Europe Hotels

Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees Review Lake Maggiore Italy

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.

Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees

The Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees, Stresa on Lake Maggiore, Italy

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.

The Hotel Reception

The entrance to the reception

The Grand Hotel Reception

The Grand Hotel reception

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 Rooms
Grand Hotel Bedroom

The classic double room

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 at the Grand Hotel

Breakfast at the Grand Hotel

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.

The Bar

The ‘Hemingway’ bar

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.

Public Areas
The Lounge

The beautifully decorated public areas

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.

The Gardens
The Gardens

The ornamental gardens

The Pool Area

The relaxing pool area

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.


The Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees, Lake Maggiore, Italy

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  • Gabriela
    June 3, 2017 at 8:40 am

    Wow, this hotel looks amazing! I would love to stay here 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 3, 2017 at 12:02 pm

      We were there for 3 nights but wished we could have stayed longer.

  • Gokul Raj
    June 4, 2017 at 7:06 am

    Blown away by the reception. Staying here would have felt so royal.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 4, 2017 at 9:54 am

      Yes, the reception is a bit grand like most of the public areas.

  • Carola
    June 4, 2017 at 8:51 am

    Such a lush place! And the breakfast… Ooof!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 4, 2017 at 9:55 am

      The outdoor patio area was really nice overlooking the gardens and lake.

  • Bob R
    June 4, 2017 at 4:40 pm

    I’ll be heading to Maggiore later this summer and will be sure to pop in there for a drink. You know, just to follow in Hemingway’s footsteps. (Or stool stops.)

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:50 pm

      I don’t think we’ve found a bar Hemingway hasn’t been in.

  • Christina Pfeiffer
    June 5, 2017 at 1:36 am

    What a grand and romantic hotel. The pool and gardens look like a lovely spot to lounge around. And the public area captures the grandeur of yesteryear.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      It was not only grand but quiet and peaceful as well.

  • Vicki Louise
    June 5, 2017 at 1:49 pm

    What a majestic looking hotel. Grand by name and Grand by nature! I would definitely feel like a celebrity staying here!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 5, 2017 at 4:51 pm

      It was definitely a grand hotel in a perfect location.

  • elisa
    June 6, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    What a beautiful hotel, I think I would spend most of the time in its public areas and swimming pool. With an hotel like this one it would hard to go out and explore Lago Maggiore for me!

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 10, 2017 at 7:14 am

      We did spend a few hours just sitting by the pool, it was very relaxing.

  • Megan Jerrard
    June 7, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Sounds like quite the incredible experience! Pity about the bar staff and the first room, but glad you enjoyed your hotel experience besides this. Stunning grounds and gardens, definitely one of the true luxury hotels of the world … I would love to plan a stay 🙂

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 10, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Just a smile from a couple of members of staff, it would have been perfect.

  • Barb
    June 12, 2017 at 3:03 am

    This place looks like a dream, like a royal residence or something of that source. I think the place is ideal for honeymooners.

    • Mr and Mrs W
      June 12, 2017 at 8:04 am

      Although quite large it was very quiet and peaceful too.

  • Viajar pela história - Catarina Leonardo
    June 12, 2017 at 1:40 pm

    Amazing place… With so many history to tell. I would love the write about it. Maybe some day!