We booked this hotel through our travel agent/then Citalia. It was our honeymoon and we had decided that Lake Garda was a lovely place to go. In the brochure it stated that the rooms were twin but upon request could be made into doubles and that also as part of the deal with Citalia we should have a complimentary bottle of bubbly in our room. When we were shown to our room it had twin beds and no bottle of bubbly. We explained to the hotel that it was in fact our honeymoon and they apologised but had not been informed of this. We had just arrived in time to make dinner so we freshened up and went straight down for dinner. The food was excellent and the service of 5 star standard. We were asked whether we wanted a bottle of water with our meal and also if we required a bottle of wine. We were not shown a wine list or a price list for these. We did have a bottle of wine and a bottle of water. We asked after how we paid for the wine and water and they said it would just go on the bill which we would pay at the end of the week. We went back up to the room to find the beds had been made into a double. We received the bottle of bubbly served at dinner I think it was the following night when our table was laid out very nicely which made it special. The error was obviously down to our travel agent or Citalia not informing the hotel which was a little annoying but quickly rectified by the efficient staff at the hotel. I understand that they are mainly family and are all very efficient and make the hotel a lovely place to stay at.
We would bring back to your attention the fact that no price list for the wine was given or for bottles of water with the meal. We decided that it would probably be quite expensive to have a bottle of wine with our meal so we didnt have another. We were correct in our assumption! Bear this in mind and also the bottles of water are not cheap either but it is the price you will pay in what is equivalent to a 5 star hotel (they do not have 5 stars in Italy just 4). It can add up over a week and also anything you have from the bar and then you have a large bill to pay as you leave. Just think about this when you order water and/or wine with your dinner and anything at the bar and also any snacks or lunches.
We had a room at the rear and the views are very nice, you will not see Lake Garda but quite frankly are you going to sit in your room looking at the view when you can lounge by the pool or under the pergola or go for a stroll alone the side of the Lake. The hotel has wi-fi but is only available by getting a code from reception which lasts a couple of days. The wi-fi is only accessible in the bar and lounge areas and presumably the dining room. There is a lovely room at the back which has books and a large tv, The tv was never on but I presume you could just ask to have it turned on but it was a lovely room just to sit in.
There is a hot tub and plenty of loungers around the pool. There are also loungers in the lower garden area which is a lovely spot. There are tennis courts for hire. There are bikes to use for free. There is an indoor and outdoor gym which is very well equipped. There are showers and changing rooms which you can use after you have checked out of your room on the last day and the hotel will look after your luggage for you so you can check out in the morning and if you are not leaving (as we were not) until teatime then you can spend the day relaxing by the pool or going into Garda or whatever and come back and use the shower and change in the gym area ready for your departure.
It is about 5 minutes walk from the ferry terminal and maybe 10 mins from the bus station. It is up a slight incline but nothing much. It is a very quiet location away from the road going through Garda which even in late September/October was still very busy. You get a nice view of the Lake from the front of the hotel and pool and hot tub. Also it catches the sun very well being slightly higher up and not overlooked.
There is a well stocked supermarket by the bus station and a couple of others in the busy streets in Garda. We tended to buy a bottle of wine from the supermarket and take it to our room to drink on our balcony looking out at the hills. You can get a bottle of red Bardolino wine for example for about 3 or 4 euros or some lovely white wines. We did make a mistake once and bought a bottle with a cork and then had to go and buy a corkscrew so top tip, take a corkscrew in your suitcase! We also would buy water and pure juice and milk from there as in your room you have a fridge, yes it is a mini bar but we did store our own stuff in there too. Another top tip take a travel kettle and spoon and some sackets of coffee and sugar and tea bags and then you can have a brew in your room whenever you want.
Breakfast is very plentiful is self service apart from tea or coffee which they will bring to you which is included in the price. There is cheese, ham and rolls and bread to cut and bread for toasting, boiled eggs, fruit, cereal, yoghurt, coissants, cake, fruit juice. It is continental but a very ample continental. Dinner you pick at breakfast your required meal. There is a choice of about 3 or 4 starters and the same for the main. The sweets are told to you on the evening and you choose then. I tended to have the soups and they were delicious and all fresh and home made. My husband who loves pasta tended to go for a pasta for starter and said they were fantastic and thoroughly enjoyed them. You also have a self service salad at dinner which again is very nice and plentiful. We choose some main courses that perhaps would not suit everyone's tastes - rabbit and guineu fowl and then I had salmon another night. There was always fish on the menu. The sweets were delicious and we really enjoyed the food.
The room was large with plenty of wardrobe space and a free safe in the wardrobe. We had a balcony with small table and chairs. There was plenty of space for suitcases and hooks by the door for cardigans or coats as required. There was a flat screen tv on the wall and you could get BBC1 and I think BBC 2 and ITV channels. The bed was very comfortable. We did find it a little warm and as we had previously read knew that the air con is not on during September/October but you can open the patio window as tilt thing at the top to let some air in.
We rang our rep to book an excursion to Venice through Citalia and thoroughly enjoyed this and it was a full day but worth it. We decided to go on the local bus to Malcesine as they have a market on a Saturday there and also you can go up the cable car to Monte Baldo. We went to the bus station and got tickets. You just buy two lots from the machine as a return. I think it was something like 3 euros each way each, it wasnt much. Unfortunately the day we went it rained quite heavily but the market was quite large and did well selling umbrellas! The town of Malcesine is very nice and quite a few nice shops. The castle is nice to have a wonder down to although if you want to go round you have to pay. The cable car wasnt very expensive although I have forgotten now how much to be honest. On a clear day I am sure the views are absolutely spectacular. They were quite lovely even though it was cloudly and raining when we went. We had a bit of lunch in the cafe at the top which again was very reasonable.
We also used the local bus again another day to go to Verona - again we bought the tickets in the bus station from the machine which you touch a keypad and it does it in english, quite simple and you just buy two tickets per person for a return. Apparently to buy the tickets when you are on the bus are considerably more expensive. It was only 4 euros each way for each of us ie 8 euros return from Garda to Verona per person. We got off at the bus station in Verona which is quite a way out from the centre of Verona and then as we were trying to find how to get into Verona's centre we saw a City Sightseeing bus so we decided that this was a good way to see the sites of Verona and get into the city centre and back to the bus depot. Dont forget to collect a bus timetable in Garda for your return bus. The City Sightseeing tour was 18 euros each so to get to Verona from Garda and have a hop on hop off commented tour which actually has two routes and you are covered for both and your ticket lasts 24 hours, it only cost 26 euros each. Think about this if you are looking at doing an organised Verona tour. We caught a bus to Verona first thing in the morning and spent all day there and came back for 7pm. The organised Verona tours are only half day and they still have to do the same travelling as we did!
I would say that Garda, certainly when we were there has more elderly visiters, well not many under 40 I would say. This could be the time of year or it could be that it is not particularly cheap to go to Italy on holiday, or maybe it is just not the type of holiday younger people are interested in. We thought it was lovely for our honeymoon. You can take it leisurely or get as much in as you can but I would say that perhaps children really wouldnt be suited for the hotel really. There were a few children staying there for a couple of nights, I think they get quite a few from neighbouring countries coming for weekend breaks etc.
All in all I cannot fault the hotel or its facilities or its staff/family. It really does make you feel welcome and relaxed but yet special all at the same time.
I nearly forgot - on the Sunday evening the family of the hotel put on a drinks before dinner with canapes and this was very nice touch.
Our thanks go to everyone at Hotel Garden for making our honeymoon a lovely and memorable occasion. We are in our mid 40s and I am on second time around so it was lovely to have a special honeymoon especially when it was our first time to go on holiday without my two teenage children! Thankfully my mother looked after them for me and the house while we enjoyed our honeymoon!