Frankly, as compared to the nearby Grand Hotel Tremezzo Palace (see my other review), I wasn't really looking forward to stay at this hotel. But since our requests to stay at the Tripadvisor's top rated Hotel Centrale was rejected (simply cos I asked for a specific room that I liked and can breakfasts be served before 8am?), we had no choice but to book at Bellagio's only 5 star luxury hotel. But guess what, no regrets doing so!
After about an hour's train ride from Bergamo to Varenna, we arrived early at the hotel after a short ferry ride. As expected, room wasn't ready till 1.30pm, and so we are off to have a light lunch and to visit the famed Villa Melzi (beautiful but not great!). Thanks to Tripadvisor's advice, I had booked a Lagoon view room in the North building, since the South building rooms, which are nearer to the hotel's entrance and carpark area, would be noisier.
Little did we know that we would be given a top floor room with a huge terrace, almost the same size of the room itself! Upon entering the room, my heart sank but I had remembered seeing the hotel's room pictures (really not impressed!), and thought, well, its expected anyway.
The room's standards and decor are somewhat bland, truly below par as compared to its grand palatial public areas. But when the kind receptionist lady opened the door to the outdoor terrace, I knew immediately that my 445 euros per night spent for this room was worth every penny! Luck is definitely on our side, I guess.
Frankly, the furnishings in the rather small room was nothing to write home about. It definitely looked more 4 stars than a 5 stars. Its bathroom, though large, with separated cubicle for shower, WC and bidget, are all tiled in porcelain tiles, not in marble as one would expect in a 5 star luxury hotel. But the views that the terrace provides, towards Cadenabbia and Menaggio, are really to die for .... The terrace also come with two dirty sun loungers, a small table and two chairs.
What I really liked about the hotel is the Hotel's yellow facade and its lobby area near the reception area, its simply grand and palatial, truly befitting the standards of a Grand Hotel! Not forgetting, the huge ballroom-like breakfast room, is even more stunning, with beautiful ceiling frescoes that I would like to have in my own new home! Quality of cakes, pastries and coffee was good, but its choice of food offered was somewhat limited. The orange juice is very watered down and never never order eggs to cook, as it would have costs you 9 euros each, ouch!
The outdoor swimming pool looked really nice but was somewhat crowded from 4pm onwards. And the indoor pool is almost isolated, probably due to its ugliness? We had bad weather for the first two days we were there, but good weather for the third day. Even for September, do bring along a wind breaker or jacket, also umbrellas, which are very important!
Being a really old hotel, the walls between the rooms and its corridors are very very thick, thereby providing good sound proofing for a good nights sleep. This is important for jet lagged travellers like us. The conceirge are all very helpful, esp. a very kind lady working in the mornings. Didn't dine at the hotel, but had great dinners at nearby La Barchetta (on Via Centrale and in front of the Hotel Centrale).
Finally, we were really glad to have ended up in this bella hotel in Bellagio. Bellagio is indeed charming and beautiful, albeit a little too touristy. Shopping is good, however, prices are really exorbitant, compared to the rest of Italy. If we were to return to Lake Como one day , our choice would be to stay in sweet Varenna (check out its Villa Monastero, you won't regret it).