OK - if you are anything like me then you will have been agonising over which hotel to stay in for your trip to Bardolino. First of all, I chose Bardolino because of it's proximity to Verona (I planned on seeing an opera), the fact that it has a famous vineyard and lots of local produce, and its lakefront position. I made a good decision. As for the hotel, I must have read every singe review on Trip Advisor and eventually wittled it down to two: Ventagio or Ca Mura. I plumped for Ventaglio, and what swung it for me was a) it was cheaper and b) the free use of bikes, whenever you wanted. I was really looking forward to my holiday and wanted everything to be right, as I'm sure everyone does.
So, let me tell you about Hotel Ventaglio, as there aren't many reviews on here and it's a shame as although I took the risk of booking it after only reading the few reveiws on here, perhaps the lack of first-hand info might put people off. If you're not interested in a long review, just end here as I have a lot to say. Just let me leave you with one word: 'excellent'.
Okay so the rest of you who like to know every detail, read on :)
The great things about Hotel Ventaglio are:
The owner and staff: Run by Claudia, who as soon as you arrive makes you feel very welcome, and immediately provides you with maps, discount cards for restaurants, and lots of information about things to do. The other staff in the hotel are very friendly, from the man behind the bar to the cleaning staff, they are all extremely professional and always cheerful and say hello.
Location: For us it was perfect. It is not in the center of Bardolino, but in Cisano, a few minutes down the road (Cisano is actually classed as part of Bardolino). The hotel is away from the main road (another reason I chose it over Ca Mura) and Bardolino old town can be reached by walking down a lane, crossing the road and heading straight onto the promenade at the lakefront. Here there is a lovely atmosphere - people meandering towards the old town for lunch/supper, cyclists, people in the lake, a few lakeside restaurants... We always cycled into town - if you like cycling it is totally perfect as you can be in Bardolino after a lovely, cooling bike ride, in less than 10 minutes. We enjoyed the bike rides so much that we decided that we would much rather be in Cisano than in Bardolino itself or we would have missed out on these rides into town! I guess it would be about a 20 minute walk, but again, very picturesque and relaxing.
The free use of bikes: I've already touched on this, but it really was a wonderful offering on the part of the hotel. The bikes are all of a high quality, and can be found down the side of the hotel. The hotel was full while we were there, and there were always enough bikes available. I would estimate that there are around 15-20 bikes belonging to the hotel. All you had to do was go to the front desk and ask for a bike lock, then the bikes were yours for as long as you wanted. We regularly returned after midnight, in which case you merely hand the bike lock back in at breakfast. One day we cycled past Bardolino and into Garda, which was lovely, and we also used the bikes to go up to the vineyard (which was a bit of a struggle as it was all uphill - but fun on the way down!) The main roads are not a problem to cycle on, in our experience. By the way, we didn't have a hire car, so the bikes were our main mode of transport. I would actually recommend this.
The Breakfast: Served between 8-10am (a nice human time), the breakfasts are truly amazing. Actually, the fresh parma ham they served broke my vegetarianism!!! On offer (and eat as much as you like) are: 3 types of fresh yoghurt, at least 4 large bowl of different fresh fruits, cereals, Italian coffee, lots of teas (herbal or English breakfast), sliced bread for toasting, a separate bread table with freshly baked rolls and different types of breads (which you place in the basket on your table), cheeses - soft/hard/sliced, parma ham in all its varieties, eggs (somtimes fried, boiled, or omellette), often small pizza or bruschetta slices, salads, antipasti of all descriptions (eg. mushrooms.artichokes in oils), usually 4 types of fresh juices, and CHAMPAGNE!! (which I made sure I had on my last morning) but have it every day, if you like!
The Pool and Grounds: The pool is extremely clean - cleaned daily around 7.30am. The sunbeds are also wiped down every day. The pool itself is lovely - a nice temperature and shaded areas. The sunbeds are nice and have a useful sun viser to pull over your eyes if you're reading. We always found available sunbeds, and there was no 'sunbed-hogging' i.e. people getting up at 7am and putting their towels down, which I hate. Next to the pool is a hot tub, which is very luxurious. On our first evening we returned from town and went in the jacuzzi with cocktails from the bar - heaven! Outside the front of the hotel, there is a shaded area with lovely trees that have grown over as a canopy. This whole area has been really tastefully decorated (by Claudia I assume) and has sofas and a swinging hammock. It does look onto the main road, and is used less than the other areas of the hotel, but it is a back road and really not very busy. It's a lovely place to chill out with a drink from the bar. (I'll put lots of photos on so you can see).
The Rooms: Some people have commented that they are small... but for us they were perfectly fine. I think because the hotel has such a particular shape (curved) the rooms may be petite, but they are really beautifully decorated and comfortable. The photos make the furnishings look a bit dated, but in reality this is not the case - everything seems new and of really high quality. The matching furniture has a marbling effect in the wood, and is quite beautiful. The rooms come with a hairdryer and other amenities, and are en-suite. The bathrooms are again possibly small which didn't worry us at all - the shower was lovely and very powerful. You can have fresh towels whenever you want,and bed linen is changed daily. Air conditioning is a welcome relief to Italian summer heat. Balconies are very sweet - each has a lovely hanging basket of flowers. Some people may dislike the fact that you can see onto other balconies, indeed, this was something my partner was worried about before we arrived - but in reality, they are spaced quite far apart and you don't feel disturbed when other people are on their balconies. Most rooms (all except 2 I think) look out over the pool and have a view of the lake in the distance, which in certain lights is more spectacular than others - for instance, we caught some lovely moments out there when the sun was hitting the mountains the other side of the lake, which generally you can't see too clearly. Sunsets are also lovely. You can see over into next door's hotel and pool - which again was not a problem for us.
The Excursions: Claudia is really happy to book you in for any trips you may like to go on. There is a local bus service (ATV) which picks you up at the end of the road, and should reservations need to be made (e.g. late night pick-up from Verona after the opera) the Claudia calls and makes all the arrangements. Be careful as some trips need to be booked in advance - we had planned on going to Venice by bus, but were disappointed when we realised we couldn't book it for the following day as we had left it til after 5pm. Just inform Claudia of your plans, and she will help you sort it all out. We ended up getting a train to Venice from Verona (got the bus to Verona) but had a nasty surpride when the train fare turned out to be €35 each, return, as we had thought that the prices shown in the hotel foyer were around €7!! Not sure what happened there, but should you be using trains, be aware that they run 'Italian style' i.e. - late, and may be more expensive than you think. But the trains themselves are very comfortable. Unfortunately we only ended up with 2 hours in Venice so next time would plan it properly.
Other things to note:
*I asked for a room on the 2nd floor as I like to be high up for the view. I think all rooms were nice - we had room 18 which was 2nd from the left at the top - if I were you I'd ask for 13/14/15 as these are on the right hand side and so slightly better lake view...
*The bar closes at midnight at which point you can either sit out the front of the hotel, or take drinks to your rooms, as the whole bar/restaurant/reception area id closed at night and you only have access to the front of the hotel and the stairs.
*The hotel attracts a large number of German guests. We are from the UK, and didn't mind this, but it would be nice if more British people went there, as they are missing a treat! The German people we briefly spoke to were very pleasant, and as I mentioned earlier - no sunbed hogging! woohoo! Claudia is really keen to have more UK guests, and speaks fluent English.
*While I was there a little coincidence happened. We had one cloudy morning when we had intended on going in the pool, so we read in our room for a while waiting for the sun to appear. I was reading 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown, and at one point in the book, the main character is describing a statue or something, and the word 'Ventaglio' comes up. He explains that is means "a warm, inviting fan" and then I realised why the hotel got it's name - because of it's shape, and it's warm inviting atmosphere! I thought it was quite strange that I should have read that while sitting in the hotel :)
*The hotel is much nearer to the Olive Oil Museum and the Wine Museum (vineyard) than any of hotels in or the other side of Bardolino old town.
*I don't want to say bad things about other hotels, but after reading about them all I was curious about seeing them in real life, and want to of course be as honest as I can as you may be planning your holiday and want some real info... The hotels I passed while I was there included: The Sportsman, The Kriss, Ca Masawalsa and The Gardenia. The Sportsman was the other side of Bardolino, between Bardolino and Garda, and looked a little run down from the outside. The Kriss was on the road before the 'Bardolino' section of the promenade - i.e. about a 5 minute walk outside of the old town. Didn't look amazing from the outside. Ca Masawalsa was very near us at Hotel Ventaglio, except behind the road we were on, so not sure about the views from there. Passed the side of the Gardenia - it looked nice (this had been another one on my list of possibilities) but I think it was on the busy main road. So that's what I can tell you. Of course, I haven't been into any of them, so they may be lovely. But I felt glad that I had chosen Ventaglio.
*The best restaurants in Bardolino are Tre Archi (on the main street) - by far the best value for the quality of food. Free bread and limoncello liquer after every meal. Lovely staff. Highly recommend it, we went there 3 times! Another good restautant is tucked away behind the fish restaurant - go behind tot he next street and a few more 'secret' restaurants open up - I think it was called Don Pedro. The staff was lovely and the Grilled Fish from the lake was fantastic.
Well, I think that just about sums it up -- enjoy!!!
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.