We chose the Villa Nicolli, through Inghams agents (who are also excellent in the service they provide), as the hotel caters for people with Coeliac Disease, and so need to follow a gluten free diet. However, not only did it surpass our diet requirements, the rest of the services at the hotel were also excellent.
Set back a little bit from the main town area (10-15 mins walk) it is in a quiet residential area, but it's a lovely walk into the town and it means you don't get any traffic noise. The north of Lake Garda has even more stunning scenery than the south of the lake because of the mountains, so you can see the mountains all around you. This hotel offers a free lunch (hot and cold salad buffet) to guests if you buy a drink at lunchtime, which a lot of guests made use of. From day one of our arrival, we were well looked after.
Our room was out-facing onto the front so we had views of the road leading up to the hotel and the outdoor swimming pool and gardens. Rooms at the rear of the hotel looked out onto vineyards and the mountains, so both are lovely. Our room had a small private balcony, was very clean and fresh, with a shower ensuite. No bath in ours, but I believe bigger rooms had a bath. As with most Italian hotels, there was no tea/coffee making facilities in the room, but you could order drinks at any time from the bar/reception and take them upstairs. (Quite a few guests brought their own travel kettle). The hotel was strict about keeping your own drinks in the mini fridge in the room, but the little fridge was well stocked with various cold drinks. The rooms were serviced swiftly each morning, often completed by the time we came back from breakfast.
The staff are one of the selling points for this hotel. Italians can come across as slightly abrupt if you're not used to it, but it's just their way, compared to the over polite Brits, but all of the staff were friendly, welcoming and helpful, particularly the restaurant staff. The Maitre'd, Renato, runs the restaurant with military precision, and all his team were brilliant. Particular mention to Mario and Rezzart in the restaurant/bar and Sylvia on reception who were exceptional. All of the staff have excellent language skills and are fluent in English, German, and French, but they like to see you have a go at a little Italian, even if it's just please, thank you, good morning or good night. Making a little effort goes a long way in the service that is returned to guests. You get back what you put in to it.
Our medical diet was so well catered for, we felt like we'd put on weight during our holiday. Breakfast included choices of fresh fruit, fruit salad, yoghurts, cheeses, ham, cereals, pastries, breads, fruit juices, tea/coffee, as well as hot choices of eggs, ham, tomatoes, mushrooms, chorizo sausages. Renato even went out specially to the next town to buy gluten free cornflakes so that we had the same breakfast choices as the rest of the guests. For the buffet lunch, if we couldn't have the hot choice, he arranged for us to have a salmon fillet with our salad. The evening dinner was the traditional italian 4 courses (appetiser, pasta dish, meat dish and dessert). There was a fish option every evening as a lot of fish is caught fresh from the lake. For the gluten free options, we had a possible variation to the main menu, but were able to have 4 courses each evening, the same as everyone else. Their gluten free cakes for dessert were gorgeous, so all credit to the chefs at the hotel. Dinner service in the evenings could take a little while, as they served about 160 covers each night, all having 4 courses with 6-7 waiting staff. As we were there towards the end of the summer season (September) It thought maybe they had reduced the number of staff. I would presume in the busier summer months there are more staff availabel to cope with the numbers. One couple complained about how long dinner took, however you have to take into account that Italians savour their food and the time they spend with family/friends, so they don't rush, they relax and enjoy it. These 2 guests were very rude and wanted "fast food" - in which case, as the Hotel Manager said very well, they went to the wrong country!! It was nice to see the Hotel Manager dine every night in the hotel restaurant with his family and friends - a good sign for other guests that he rated the food served in his hotel.
The hidden gem for this hotel is the spa. It has an indoor and outdoor pool, sun terrace, large gardens, outdoor umbrellas, but hidden down in the basement are treatment areas, all very relaxing and peaceful, with beautiful aromas and soft music piped through. Above the indoor swimming pool are state of the saunas, steam rooms, salt rooms and water beds (although these aren't turned on until 2.00 each afternoon). On a wet day (we only had one during our stay in September), it's wonderful to have the option of something nice and relaxing to do inside. I had a facial treatment, and although the beautician's Engish was limited, she could work magic with her hands - it was heavenly.
For those more energetic, you can hire bikes direct at the hotel reception for a 50 euros deposit which you get back when you return the bike.
Riva del Garda itself is a lovely town, a lot bigger than I anticipated, with something to do for everyone. In Riva itself, there is a great walk up to the Bastione fort ruins, a great Museum, beautiful marina, great shops, and a street market every Wednesday morning where you can get some really unusual staff, with great bargains. Of course there are loads of cobbled side streets to explore, with a great selection of restaurants, bars and cafes to try. Riva's location is excellent for trips to other towns on the north of the lake - we did Malcesine, Limone, Torbole and Simione. I can fully recommend the cable car ride to the top of Monte Baldo in Malcesine, but allow plenty of time as there's lots to do at the top of the mountain!
The scenery all around Lake Garda is absolutely stunning, but for me, the north of the lake has a slight edge on the south, because of the beautiful view of the mountains.
All in all, I couldnt fault our holiday, it was wonderful. We met some great people, enjoyed the food and wine (and the local speciality of Aperol Spritzers), loved the beautiful scenery and the gorgeous weather. I would definitely recommend this as a holiday destination, as well as the hotel itself and the service provided by Inghams. Thank you for a wonderful time. X
Rooms at the front of the hotel face the outdoor swimming pool, gardens and the road leading up to t...
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.