Riva is an utterly fantatsic resort town on the Northern shores of Lake Garda. I'd go back there in a heartbeat.
This was our 3rd holiday in 3 years to Lake Garda, having stopped in Riva in 2010 and Barolino in 2011.
In 2010 we had stopped in the Tonelli owned Savoy Palace, which like the Hotel Garda is rated as 4 star. As we wanted to holiday in Riva once more, the ownership and star rating of the hotel influenced our booking, as did the slightly cheaper price of the Hotel Garda over the Savoy Palace.
I do feel though that on reflection there is a big gap between the lower end of the 4 star scale (Hotel Garda - HG) and the middle/high end (Savoy Palace - SP).
Whilst there was nothing massively wrong with the HG it was still disappointing in comparison to the SP. I don't think it's unfair to compare the two when they feature the same star rating and are under the same ownership.
The pool is located behind private hedgerows on the main driveway into the hotel. There are loungers around the pool and a seated terrace area at the front of the hotel but nowhere away from the pool edge for sunbathing (as there had been at the SP). The pool was clean but had no quirky extras (jacuzzi pool at the SP).
The room we were allocated faced the North and West (overlooking the Hotel La Perla) on the 2nd floor and was tiny, especially the bathroom. Without going into too much detail it was legs under the sink and a hairdryer on your shoulder when sitting on the throne. No bath, only a shower - which isn't a fault, but worth mentioning. The bedroom itself was again fairly small but suitable for a week away. As with most hotels in Northern Italy the double bed was two singles pushed together. A small TV had BBC world news and several German channels. The balcony was small, but got some sun late afternoon.
The hotel whilst clean is a bit of a mismatch bewteen old and new. Some areas are dated whilst others appear modern.
The bar was nicely laid out, very nice communal area. The restaurant seemed to be missing the buzz of that of the SP. The selection of evening meal 1st course buffet was not as wide as we had experienced at the SP 2 years earler. Some of the food was delicious (seabass) and some of it was poor (pike). There was alot of fish on offer and some of the course options seemed to be a bit lazy (omlette). Breakfasts were buffet style, again not as much choice as the SP. Buffet lunches and tea/cakes were served daily but we were out when they were available so can't comment. All told I was a little bit underwhelmed with the food. You do get 500ml of water and 500ml of wine per couple with the vening meal which is a nice touch.
English and German newspapers were available in the bar daily.
Cycle hire is available for free for 4 hours daily. Advised to get in early. We cycled to Arco and Torbole, had a swim and lunch, before returning comfortably within that time one day.
The staff at the hotel were all very helpful.
The hotel is within a few minutes walk of the lake and 15-20 minutes to Riva town centre. We used the lake more often than the pool. There are several places along the front offering kayak hire and other boats are available. Worth it, but can be hard work when the wind picks up!
I genuinely think what has let the Hotel garda down is the brilliant experience we had at the Savoy Palace. Although that said, with the further depths of the recession, the SP of 2012 may well be serving the same selections and choices as the Hotel Garda. Still, a 3/5 rating from me is certainly not a bad review - and the holiday as a whole was nearing a 5/5! Must remember though that the review is for the hotel, not the holiday.....
Away from the hotel, the Co-Op supermarket is only a few minutes walk on the same side of the road. The Spar mini-market has closed since our last visit. there is a fantastic ice cream bar over the road (Flora). There are pizzerias everywhere all starting at ~€7 for a pizza, and ~€2 for water, very good value. Huts on the lakeside sell snacks/burgers for under €5. Day ticket for the boat for the northern end of the lake is just over €20 each, which is very reasonable and allows for a nice day out.
All in all, I'd recommend Riva to anyone, but I'd try and stretch the budget a bit further next time. We're possibly looking at even going just B&B next time due to the amount of quality dining available in the area. Cheers.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.