For my one month Vienna-Venezia voyage in September-October 2011 I booked Hotel Pironi first and far in advance - and even a few months prior to my stay I already could not get the room on the exact day I originally wanted. I changed my itinerary slightly to accommodate for one night stay there - such was the enduring fame of the place.
Naturally, I have been so influenced by unanimously rave reviews starting from Michelin Hotel guide through any other travel guide of the Lakes and finally by exalted comments on this site. And as it often happens in such cases, it did not impress me unequivocally - when the expectations set so high, it is hard to match it, although overall it is a pleasant hotel.
I start with the positives:
For me, the best thing about Hotel Pironi was the breakfast, specifically a marvelous frescoed room in the appendix of the main modern breakfast buffet room. That not very large room was truly stunningly beautiful and full of ambiance, with large windows allowing splendid morning light to illuminate the colors of the walls. The hotel is a converted monastery, and the room is probably a piece surviving from the old glorious times. The breakfast itself was extremely rich and varied, with fresh breads, cheeses and fruits, and an omelet was free, too. I'd say the breakfast is one of the best for the hotel of this class.
Next was the bed, with a very comfortable mattress and pillows. But my disappointment with the hotel started with polyester blankets that were provided by default. I had to call for wool blankets, which were brought right in, but still for a mountainous hotel of high reputation it was strange to find synthetic blankets for the bed make-up.
The bathroom was shining clean, with an excellent array of toiletries. I think that even a Swiss will not find anything to flaw in such an immaculately clean and well-appointed bathroom.
The staff was very helpful. I could not enter the parking lot from the first attempt and the steering wheel of my Fiat Bravo got locked up. The lady from reception came to help, she knew these Italian cars well, and so we parked the car safely. Next day she drove with me to show the way to get the closest to the hotel for bag packing - my Garmin GPS, even with updated European maps could not figure it out.
The reason why I needed to minimize the bag-carrying distance is that the road is all cobblestones, not very suitable for bags on wheels, and the hotel is about 25 meters from the closest possible car parking, which is not really a parking place - you have a few minutes only to do your luggage business.
Now, some negatives:
The luggage service was uneven - I was puzzled by a comment in the morning at the check-out that I was lucky in the previous evening of the check-in that there was a man around to help with the bags. I think for the hotel of this fame and rate the help with bags should be seamless. What would happen if the man was not there? The thought that you could be left on your own without the luggage help was not very comforting.
Maybe more importantly, I found the room very small (I was a solo traveler), with period-looking peasant-antique furniture which was quite useless - there was no adequate desk for a computer or for simple writing. There was also no reading light at the head of the bed, so if you want to read in bed, it will have to be with the ceiling light.
The room door opens right to the floor corridor, and the is no soundproofing. In the morning, the street life starts early and it becomes very noisy, because the hotel is on a narrow street right in the center of town, so if you want to sleep after 8 am, it might not be possible due to noise from other guests coming and going at the floor corridor and from the outside street.
Another huge drawback was the absence of Internet in the room. Wi-fi exists only in the big communal reading room, which is well-frequented by guests and therefore there is absolutely no privacy for your internet browsing. The signal was OK, but it was not enough for Skype talk over my Android phone with USA.
The hotel is very popular, and perhaps due to that fact it feels crowded - although the breakfast frescoed room is gorgeous, most likely you will have neighbors all around, speaking loudly of their affairs and ruining somewhat the morning tranquility of the place. The same happens in the Wi-Fi communal room. The problem is that the hotel is not very large but it is so well packed that it feels as you are touching another guest elbow. I personally prefer a less crampy environment.
There is ambiance of the hotel being a converted abbey, but the aforementioned practical inconveniences diminished the appeal to me; I found the hotel poorly equipped for a modern single traveler who uses the computer daily and prefers to be connected to the Internet in the privacy of her room.
The location is nice, but the town is small, so other hotels have a similar, if no better location on the waterfront Lungolago. I found Hotel Pironi somewhat overpriced for what it provides, and although it was a good stay, I will probably try another hotel that caters more to a modern traveler with a car next time in the charming Cannobbio. Yet I think the management is maintaining the place very well, and for those in love with this type of accommodation Hotel Pironi might be a great choice. I also rate it as Very Good and not Average due to the very attentive staff.
And Cannobbio itself is a true gem, its waterfront lined with splendid buildings in Venetian style reminds of Piazza Bra in Verona or Zattere in Venice. The restaurants look incredibly inviting and vivacious, and the view on the lake bordered by mountains is excruciatingly beautiful at the sunset. The Renaissance church of Madonna della Pieta is an imposing elegant building in Lombard style, richly decorated inside; it boasts a picture by Gaudenzio Ferrari, a great artist of Milanese school, a contemporary of Leonardo and Bernardino Luini.
The waterfront promenade is filled with pleasure. If you descend to the pebble beach, swans curious about food may approach. The town is magic!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Hotel Pironi is a charming boutique hotel housed in a 15th century palazzo, once a Franciscan monastery, located at the heart of the old town, just a few steps from the lake. With its unique history and atmosphere, the Hotel Pironi is sure to surprise and delight its guests, none of whom will be able to resist its magic. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Pironi Hotel Cannobio
- Hotel Pironi Cannobio, Italy - Lake Maggiore