Friday, 11 October 2013

The Grand Hotel Imperiale, Lake Como, Italy

On the shores of Lake Como, the Grand Hotel Imperiale seems to be popular with English pensioners in October. And it is not hard to see why. Although it can have a dated feel, the hotel has verdant gardens around a lovely terrace and swimming pool with views across the water to the heavily-wooded hillsides on the other side of the lake. A stone pergola, period lampposts and railings add to the charm. A tunnel takes you under the lakeside road, so you can reach the shore without having to brave the traffic. Built in the 1920s in the Art Nouveau style, the Grand Hotel Imperiale's bar and lounge area, with their high ceilings and grand windows, have retained their period feel. But the foyer is strikingly contemporary with black pillars, stark open staircases and a bright red wall behind the reception. From the foyer, an atrium rises up several floors, illuminated by a shaft of daylight in the roof.

The heart of the Grand Hotel Imperiale was built in the 1920s
Unfortunately, the distinctive character of this hotel doesn't extend to the rooms in the relatively modern wing, which can feel rather mundane with wood panelling, patterned carpets and shiny eiderdowns. But  these rooms do have balconies with views of the lake and they are comfortable enough. Moreover, there is free WiFi, air-con and a small safe. The extensive breakfast buffet is impressive, but the serving staff can get flustered when lots of guests arrive and it can take time to get coffee. 8/10

A bedroom in the more modern wing