Our holiday to the Italian Lakes was booked from Thomson Lakes & Mountains brochure as a discovery package to Lake Maggiore. We flew from Manchester airport to Milan and with a one hour transfer to our Hotel - the Villa Paradiso.
I had chosen to book through Thomson Holidays as had had two lovely holidays through them in Sorrento. Unfortunately it appears they have sub contracted this holiday to Crystal and the whole experience was not of the same standard.
On arrival at the resort on a sunny Saturday lunchtime, we were totally blown away by the gorgeous setting of the hotel which is by the Lake. The main road around the lake is very busy, the hotel on one side of the road with the lake just on the other side. Unfortunately there is very little in the way of pavement, meaning any attempt to stroll anywhere within a 100 yards of the hotel is not only impossible but could be positively dangerous. And there lies the main problem. The hotel, whilst situated in a beautiful setting, is very isolated for any traveller without their own transport. Buses are close enough to safely reach and Stresa is about 15 mins bus ride away and well worth a visit, BUT the last bus back is at 7.30pm so realistically you have to stay put in the evening in the hotel.
The hotel is a small, family run hotel that is a little tired. Our room, 332, was small with en-suite shower and toilet and a lake view. Despite the noisy road, the room was remarkably quiet and had air conditioning, fridge and safe. The hotel does offer free wifi but you have to get a login password for a maximum of 24 hours at a time.
On a positive note, the room was kept very clean, the beds are really comfortable, towels changed daily and all the staff were very keen to help in any way.
The food was very limited though. Breakfast was fine, the usual fare, cold meat and cheese, cereals, yoghurts, eggs, toast and cakes. The UK guests dine in a separate area, from the French and German coach parties. The menu appears to be more restrictive for UK travellers as well and this all makes you feel a bit like second class citizens. We were asked to choose our evening meal at breakfast time, which is a little odd as were the choices. If you like fresh lake carp, you are in luck as that is the option at least 3 times a week. Variations on courgettes appear on many occasions including courgette omelette one night. Escalope of veal and chicken are regular favourites with a non descript sauce. The menu offers three choices of starters and main courses, but in truth the choices are so repetitive we ended up having the pasta starter as our main course and avoiding the other options.
Having had your meal, almost everyone disappears to their rooms as the bar area is a dark gloomy and unwelcoming area. The veranda is lovely, looking over the lake but the weather wasn't kind enough for us to do this.
The tours we went on as part of the discovery package were interesting, informative but very tiring. We arrived on a Saturday and on the Monday and Tuesday we had 12 hour coach trips starting at 7am. We had an excellent guide, Barbara for the trips but timings weren't always the best, with either too long on the coach eg 3.5 hours at a time or too long in some of the stop offs. Overall though we saw some gorgeous places and can highly recommend Fuchs Restaurant on the trip to the Matterhorn! On our last day we went to Milan, which was another great trip. Beware of coffee prices outside the cathedral though, we were stung for 18 euros for 2 cappuccinos!
Overall, I did enjoy my holiday because Italy is such a gorgeous place to visit and the Italians so welcoming and helpful. If I was to return, I would prefer to stay in Stresa I think as Villa Paradiso is just too isolated for me, but this is a very personal view.
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- Also Known As:
- Hotel Villa Paradiso Meina, Lake Maggiore, Italy