This hotel, supposedly a 4-star (by Italian standards, OK) is old. Now, don’t misunderstand me : there are old hotels all over the world, some of them wonderfully preserved, lovingly restored, carefully and efficiently modernized. The Victoria is still grand but lacks the comforts one expects of a 4-star hotel today. It’s not only old, it’s dated.
First of all, and contrary to the building itself, Reception personnel is quite young —read : inexperienced, not overly polite nor overeducated nor inclined to bend over backwards to accommodate tired, arriving guests. The lobby is large and adequate, but the first room we were given was smallish, even though we had reserved one of the lake view rooms, which are supposedly (and expectedly) the best. It would have been more or less OK, though, if it hadn’t been for the air conditioning which was so weak that we slept very little during our first night (it was August, and very hot and humid).
The next day I complained with the senior manager (a much better educated, more respectful and more professional person) and was offered to visit another room : same problem, air conditioning very weak, not even cool (let me specify here that, being French, we’re not at all used to the super-cold temperatures our American friends seem to enjoy, we catch a cold whenever we spend more than a weekend in New York, and therefore we are not at all demanding in terms of air conditioning performance). After that, I was offered a third room, that one on the first floor (not the ground floor) ; maybe because it was lower, it seemed that the air conditioning was functioning marginally better… but frankly, the reason we kept that room was (1) that the manager admitted the airco system in the rooms was quite old and needed overhauling (in the lobby, it was working fine) so we surmised we wouldn’t get much better treatment in yet another room, and (2) that third room was a corner room, much larger, with 3 big windows and a balcony. We came to terms with the fact that we would never have a cool room (no choice there), but it was a disappointment , especially as no discount was to be expected on the final bill!
The bathrooms (I visited three, remember) were all not very large, windowless, and somewhat cavernous, as is often the case in lower-class hotels. I expected better lighting in a 4-star. The fixtures were generally clean but antiquated, and in the first one there wasn’t even a shower screen on the side of the tub : splashes ahead! Furthermore, one of the cabinets was not spotless (that’s an understatement) and there was that faint, dreaded smell of drain that you encounter in hotels where plumbing is not well maintained. Luckily, this problem did not occur in the room where we ended up spending the rest of our week at the Victoria.
The beds were good but we were issued only one flat pillow per person and had to request a couple more (they should have been sitting in the wardrobe in the first place). Closet space was spacious enough, but all around us was and looked old, from the faded greenish paint on the walls that had seen better days, particularly in their pockmarked bottom part, to the white pottery glass in the bathroom (I much prefer the wrapped, single-use plastic ones, even if they are flimsy).
The lake view was nice, but you can’t have grand-looking trees in the little garden in front of the hotel, and… an unobstructed view! In our case, well, we had the grand trees. And some little bit of lake in between thick foliage. Having a drink on our own balcony (not wide at all, but adequate) was very nice, however. Be careful : there are flying things around that bite viciously ; not mosquitoes, much smaller insects, black round things that profess a distinct preference for female flesh. Not nice at all on denuded arms, shoulders and legs. We found no weapon against them, and saw identical bites on other people, so it wasn’t just us.
The pool in the back garden (towels provided free of charge) is nicely sized (some not so nice smells there too at certain times of day), but as usual, not enough loungers, so you have to get up early to stake out your claim and then hold on to it forcefully. A good dozen more loungers would have settled the issue easy enough.
Finally, a major drawback was that Internet was only available in the lobby, not in the rooms. OK, it was free, which is a lot more than most Italian hotels offer at this time, but in the evening, you had to compete for lobby armchairs almost as ferociously as for those lounging chairs by the pool in order to read your emails or visit your favorite web sites… I spoke with several other guests who, like me, thought that a couple of wifi routers on the very wide and long landings couldn’t possibly have broken the bank… On the other hand, as the hotel’s Internet proved very unreliable (was down for two full days in a one-week stay!), it was almost a pleasure to have it back, even if only in the lobby.
Overall assessment : the Victoria is expensive, but not so outrageously expensive by Lake Como standards. That is what saves the “Average” grade I will award it. But the air conditioning in the rooms really needs to be completely redone (with user settings which it sorely lacks), and the bathrooms could do with an update… as could the place, except for the lobby which did look nice and appropriately impressive (although you get used to it after a day or two, this is not a genuine palace). Install a good and reliable Internet/wifi network throughout, and the Victoria will begin to look like a bargain.
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Menaggio
- Grand Hotel Victoria Menaggio, Lake Como