Occasionally you find a hotel that is, quite simply, at the top of its game. It does not have to be super luxurious or indeed super cheap – it just needs to deliver in every aspect. Earlier this year I was lucky enough to be staying at the lovely 3* Hotel Benaco in Desenzano Del Garda, Italy.
Originally a villa built after the Second World War, the hotel has just 32 rooms. In the same family since 1979, the Benaco is now owned by Gregory, who takes immense pride in creating a property that oozes class and sophistication.
Gregory’s creative stamp and flair are at every turn and it is one of the many reasons I love this little hotel. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that a one-night stop turned into a four-night stay.
Let’s find out what floated my boat on Lake Garda!
The Hotel is situated just a 5-minute stroll downhill from the Desenzano Del Garda Railway station. For those travelling around Northern Italy, Desenzano is conveniently accessible from cities such as Venice, Verona and Milan.
A further 10-minute walk from the Hotel Benaco takes you down the hill to the historic, lakeside town of Desenzano with its shops, restaurants, bars, and the many tourist boats that will whisk you off to all corners of Lake Garda.
The hotel is small, however, the fresh feel, the welcome and the furnishings are exquisite. All of the friendly, smiling staff at reception were on hand throughout my stay to assist with information on what to do in the vicinity or for train and boat times if I was planning to head out exploring.
Next to the reception desk is a beautifully appointed (for want of a better word) cupboard where you can pick up maps and information on the region and the many local attractions and activities.
The lounge area adjoining the reception is decorated to the highest of standards with stylish art, luxurious red leather sofas and unusual artefacts and books. I love the washed-wood look and feel throughout the hotel.
For lovers of music, there is a lamp with the logo from the famous “The Who” band and alongside, is fine art and pottery. Whilst it may sound like an unusual mix you need to look at the photos to see that it works!
The lounge area is a lovely place just to chill with a coffee or an Aperol Spritz after a long day of exploring.
Rooms & Views
There are 32 immaculate rooms and I was staying in room 305 with a large comfy double bed, a walk-in changing area with a safe and a bathroom with a shower, toilet and bidet. Shampoo, soap and towels were changed daily.
The view I had from the French balcony was across Desenzano town and then beyond to Sirmione, the lake and the mountains beyond.
There is excellent wifi throughout the hotel and in the room a large TV desk and a working area. Just what I needed!
Hotel Benaco Restaurant
One of the highlights of staying at this cosy hotel is the breakfast served between 7 and 10 am.
Once again the decor in the restaurant is superb and divided into two seating areas. There is clearly a love of music in this hotel as one area contains a piano with images of musicians including some of my favourites Bruce Springsteen and Sting.
The bakery consists of a variety of breads, croissants, cakes, and pastries all freshly prepared from a bakery in Trentino. Drinks include fruit juices, teas, and a coffee machine serving up various choices while for those with special requirements, there are various milk alternatives. A hot counter delivers scrambled eggs, bacon and “rosti” which is a delicious mix of potatoes and onion.
Other options are cold meats, fine cheeses, stewed fruits of which the plums were truly amazing, as well as local honey from Mantova in Lombardy and served in the honeycomb. As if that was not enough how about a pancake maker? Whilst a rather unsightly machine that is not in keeping with the beautifully created room it does deliver some fabulous freshly cooked pancakes at the press of a button.
Breakfast at the Hotel Benaco is worth getting out of bed for!
During the busier months, the hotel also offers a bistro service for lunch and dinner. This is particularly popular for guests relaxing by the pool who may want a simple sandwich or burger during the day.
Pool & Gardens
To the front of the hotel are a couple of garden areas with seating as well as a sizeable swimming pool.
Although not heated it will be a welcome addition to those staying in the warmer months. There are plenty of sun loungers making a fight for space amongst the 32 rooms very unlikely!
Micia The Resident Cat
To my delight, the hotel also has a resident cat – Micia – this young lady patrols the gardens and reception.
On a number of occasions while I stayed I was in reception and the automatic sliding doors opened, not for guests, but for Micia who was just ambling back after a day sunbathing in the gardens.
Contact Hotel Benaco
A stay at the Hotel Benaco will leave you feeling refreshed, relaxed and ready for the next part of your Italian adventure. For a 3* Hotel in Desenzano, I would wholly recommend a stay as they have simply got the formula bang on… it’s a truly lovely hotel.