This is a lovely and well located hotel. It overlooks the lake, and the breakfast/restaurant terrace has amazing views - there is an outdoor dining area when the weather is fine so try and sit outside if you can. The staff at breakfast were always great and clear the tables quickly. A few people have posted to say problems re lack of food/running out at certain times, but there was always plenty when we were there. This hotel does have an older clientele - I'd say 90% of the guests are in their 50/60s and we are in our 30s - so not a party atmosphere but very quiet at night so good for relaxing. We also got the impression most of the older guests were with coach parties, and by the time we made it down to breakfast each day at 9-9.30am, they'd already finished breakfast and were heading out for the day.
We booked a double room with lake view and balcony. The room itself was big although there wasnt any aircon and the "double bed' was the usual continental effort of pushing two singles together and putting a double sheet over them. The view was spectacular and it is definitely worth upgrading for a lake view. However, be warned that if you book a balcony, it isn't a private balcony (or it certainly wasn't on floor one). Our balcony had a table and two chairs, but the walls separating us from each neighbour were only a foot high, so as soon as you walked out you were effectively sharing the terrace with them. Some people might like the sociable nature of this, but on a romantic break we didn't really want to be chatting with the man next door who was always sat out there!
The hotel is quite grand, but a tiny bit shabby around the edges in places. Not that this detracts, but it explains in part why I haven't given it five stars. I was surprised that the gardens were quite unkept in terms of paths, given the number of elderly guests - It was quite slippy walking down to the pool (grass sloppy path, not paved). The pool itself was small and monopolised by two families with younger children, but we much preferred swimming in the Lake itself anyway. Ask at reception for the closest places to swim - basically it seemed you can pretty much swim anywhere that isn't a boat docking area, but there is a blue flagged "beach" (pebbles not sand but beautiful clear water) with toilets and a snack bar between Cadenabbia and Mennagio (the next village north around the lake).
Cadenabbia itself isn't huge but has everything you need. There are a handful of restaurants within five mins walk of turning left or right out of the hotel, plus a few gift shops and a post office. Also very close to the ferry points. The ferry is very easy to navigate, just make sure you pick up a timetable so you know the return times. As for other places around the Lake to visit, we'd recommend Menaggio (lovely old town, fantastic ice cream shop on main square and lots of nice restaurants) and Bellagio across the water. We went over to Bellagio for dinner on two evenings on the ferry, it's about 8 or 9 euros return for the evening. You can hire boats (no licence required) or kayaks from a variety of places along the Lake, I'd advise avoiding AC Boat in Menaggio though as we had a bad experience with them.
Lastly if you are travelling here on your own rather than as part of a tour, by far the easiest way to get here is to fly to Milan and hire a car. We looked in to getting a cab or if we could arrange a transfer, but there is no direct public transport and cabs were super expensive (200 euros). It's about an hour drive, maybe less, and very easy to find - as soon as you hit the Lake, there is just one road around it. The hotel has loads of free parking. If you are hiring a car from Milan Malpensa, make sure you check whether your hire company has an office/cars in the terminal where your flight arrives - there are two terminals and we got caught out by this. If you do need to swap terminals, there is a shuttle bus between the two.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.