The reviews we saw on Trip Advisor were mixed, to say the least. We only stayed B & B, so I cannot comment upon the evening meals, but the dining room seemed full on most of the four nights we stayed, mainly because of a coach party of either German or Russian guests. The room was on the first floor with a great view over the lake, and we benefitted from leaving the shutters open at night, with the 'mosquito blind' down so that the sun shone in in the morning. The bed was kingsize and vast, and we both slept very well. The bathroom was fine, with one of the best showers I have ever come across, and a good system for squeezing out the shower gel without wrestling with bottles falling on the floor etc.
The best feature of the hotel was the staff, and I have to mention Emma and Massimiliano in particular. Emma was in charge of the breakfasts, but seemed to be there late too and worked very hard. She had a good grasp of English and was very kind and helpful. For example, after returning from my early morning Christian devotions on the beach just across from the hotel (location is A1) at say 7.15, I asked if I could take my wife a cup of tea. She very helpfully showed me where all the ingredients were on the first morning, and thereafter, without being asked, prepared a tray for me each morning in readiness. Great service. Massimiliano was on the desk during the day, and was unfailingly friendly and helpful, though his English was not quite so strong I think. In my experience if you go out of your way a bit to be friendly to hotel staff, they will reciprocate, and these were two fine examples.
Breakfasts were plentiful on a buffet basis, with a DIY boiled egg facility that was very well thought out. They even had a large digital clock with minutes and seconds right there, which you could see from your table, thereby avoiding the need to stand there for 4-5 minutes waiting for the egg(s) to boil. The usual mixture of fresh and tinned fruit (peaches that week), cereals, croissants and toast and jam / marmalade plus ham and cheese slices were plentiful and tasty.
We had learned that Desenzano is more of a 'real' 'working' town than several others dotted around Lake Garda, which are typically of Roman origin, mediaeval buildings, cobbled streets and reachable by ferry from the port about a five minute stroll along the front from the hotel. Once you have seen one very pretty and interesting such town, we reckoned you have seen them all, so we did not visit the others apart from Sirmione the nearest.
There are some lovely cafes, gelateria (ice cream parlours) and other shops along the front in Desenzano and in the streets behind. On Tuesdays they have the biggest market I have ever seen, which is saying something, stretching for hundreds of yards right along the front - well worth a look, though we sailed on a ferry to Sirmione that first day.
A little way along the front before you get to some of the main areas, there is a lovely restaurant called Osteria Saporo Divino, with menus outside on the wall written on blackboards. We went there twice and the mulberry ice cream is superb, plus a steak dish for 18 euros with Gorgonzola potatoes (saute) and jam (!) which is lovely. We had a sharing version for two for 28 euros, and have never tasted better beef in three Italian trips - seemed like some 15 thick slices!
Right along the other end of Desenzano, maybe 45 minutes walk, is the best beach, called Spiaggia Al Porto, with a very nice cafe and plenty of room to spread out to read or sunbathe on the shingle. Ignore Spiaggia D'Oro on the way there (golden beach, a real misnomer, nothing seems to have happened there for years, and we even witnessed two council workers locking away a lorry load of chairs and tables in a cupboard on the deserted beach, alongside two chained up beach huts and a kind of shed! Maybe they unleash them in July...) Although there are no signs that the beach cafe serves hot food, it does and we had a reasonable snack lunch there. You can see lots of lizards running around on the walls outside and the swans can be friendly as they creep silently out of the lake to investigate if they think you may have something interesting for them.
All in all we had a terrific time, our 42nd wedding anniversary the first day there, and would go back. We visited Verona (about 26 minutes by train after a long uphill walk (or taxi for the boring!) to the station, and Venice, a rail journey of 93 minutes by more expensive fast train (€27.50) but only a little over 2 hours for 4 more stops and costing only €10.75 for the slower one. Desenzano is the nicest Italian town we have seen in three trips, alongside Lucca near Pisa / Florence.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Europa hotel is located on the promenade of the beautiful Lake Garda, in front of the Desenzano beach and just a few minutes walk from the central shopping area of Desenzano. Many of the small, charming towns that surround the lake are easily accessible from the hotel by car or boat. The restaurant and most of the guest rooms offer magnificent views of the lake. The hotel has a TV room, bar and a restaurant with air conditioning serving Italian and international cuisine.The hotel's private parking area is free of charge for guests.Free Internet Point ( broadband ADSL ) Free Wi-fi service for ours guests. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Europa Hotel Desenzano Del Garda
- Hotel Europa Desenzano Del Garda, Lake Garda, Italy