I have to say I am deeply conflicted writing this review, because this is such a gem of a hotel I do not want it ruined by many tripadvisor travellers crowding me out in the future! But I like the hotel so much and I feel so grateful to tripadvisor for helping me find it I must pass the favor on.
My wife and I booked the Walter au Lac based on tripadvisor reviews, using the hotel website's online booking service. We were reminded of our reservation by email as the time drew near and had a polite follow-up afterwards. Everything was perfectly in order on arrival.
The hotel is in central Lugano right on the lake, with the small embankment road and narrow beach between it and the lake. It is next to a small and beautiful plaza where if you are lucky you can find car parking (we were lucky). It is an almost impossibly charming setting with truly spectacular views of the lake.
I usually stay in five star international hotels, so when I first entered the hotel it seemed a bit scruffy, but I was still very deeply charmed by the setting and by the warmth of the reception (love those Swiss hoteliers). Entering the room, a second floor lake view room with two large windows and a French door style balcony, for a moment the room also seemed a bit shopworn, until our eyes went to the view outside. Yes, the furniture is not new but the charm of the place is outstanding, far better than what I now think would be an out-of-place international sterility. Everything though not new was very clean, with clean, comfortable bedding as the Swiss do so well.
For dinner that evening the reception clerk recommended what ended up to be a perfect restaurant, the Antica Osteria del Porto (pricey but very good and casual), to which one can easily walk via the lake shore promenade and park. She recommended a drink at a local plaza nearby, also a wonderful idea. We slept very well at night, with shutters closed.
The next morning we had coffee in the room, and when that ran out I stepped down one floor to the breakfast room to get some more coffee. The breakfast room is an outstandingly charming, light and airy room on the first floor (that's the floor above the ground floor, for my American friends) with a divine view of the lake. After breakfast my wife and I went up to the roof terrace for the views. There is a hot tub on the roof terrace as well as lounging chairs for taking the sun.
In a lifetime of travel throughout the world in many hotels this has been one of the most memorable and pleasant I have encountered. I found it a fair value with a pleasant, relaiable and competent staff. Lugano is a gem as well.
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