This modern, luxury hotel doesn't compromise on old-world Italian charm and natural beauty. Savour local fare in complete seclusion at Villa Eden Luxury Resort or take a speedboat on Lake Garda to explore the Gardone Riviera.
There's an old worldly allure to Lake Garda and its surrounding villages. Once brightly coloured buildings have faded over time, narrow roads wind through plush greenery and Slim Aarons-esque stone beaches surround the vast fresh-water lake. It's the kind of picture you'll only find in the Italian countryside.
Overlooking the lake from its perch in the hills of Parco dell'Alto Garda, Villa Eden Resort is a contemporary take on luxury Italian living. Designed by Matteo Thun, it's a happy compromise for those attracted to the area's natural beauty but who draw the line at well-worn accommodation. Stonewashed brick walls, towering pines and olive trees nod to authenticity but furniture is sleek and interiors are polished. Dotted further up the hillside are privately-owned and rented villas as well as a helicopter pad primed for those accustomed to arriving in style.
The main hotel comprises just nine rooms, all decorated in a crisp, neutral palette of white and soft-grey. Each has a private balcony, a waterfall shower and floor-to-ceiling windows, but it's the little touches that make it special; handmade pillow chocolates, a turn-down service and fresh orchids both inside and on the balcony make it feel homely while art-deco lampshades and ornate mirrors add a touch of opulence. Larger suites are split into two rooms, but privacy isn't an issue anywhere in the hotel so unless you're one of the guests arriving by helicopter, the more modest-sized options are perfectly comfortable.
What's for breakfast?
It's no secret that Italian coffee is good and, despite relaxed surroundings, it's worth factoring that caffeine hit into your morning ritual here. The buffet breakfast offers a typical European spread of cured meats, cheese, a colourful array of fruit and warm crusty bread. There's also a hot menu that features everything from a tiger-prawn omelette to tempting Nutella pancakes.
How about lunch and dinner?
Head chef Peter Oberrauch sources local produce where possible and updates the hotel menus seasonally to use the best and freshest Italian-grown ingredients. It is, of course, the secret to making the simplest of dishes taste extraordinary. Choose from fresh pasta and salads at lunchtime and explore the evening tasting menu to enjoy small but flavoursome dishes you never knew you'd love.
Is there a bar?
When it comes to regional wine, Oberrauch recommends Lugana Denominazione di Origine Controllata to compliment his dishes. Alternatively, a well-stocked spirits selection accommodates just about any cocktail, each of which comes beautifully presented and served alongside juicy olives or petite, artful bruschetta plates. Sit on the lounge terrace, poison in hand, and watch the sun dip below the trees.
Both hotel and villa guests have full use of the spa and wellness area. Surprisingly spacious, the steam room and sauna are tucked away at the end of a 20m pool and indoor loungers sit beneath relaxing deep-blue lighting. Private or group yoga and pilates classes are available to book and take place poolside, and the spa treatment menu is extensive but specialised, offering massages, waxing and more. If it's an activity holiday that you're looking for, bicycle tours and climbing excursions can be arranged, and if you're keen to sample more of the local produce, wine tasting trips also come highly recommended.
Things you should know
Villa Eden's location is blissfully remote. Its lush green surroundings and proximity to the water combined with the on-site facilities make it ideal for a restorative break. The chiming of local church bells and the choppy sound of an incoming helicopter are the only external noises, so take the short journey to the waterfront and dine in Restaurant Casino where the lively atmosphere and unrivalled local cuisine are brimming with character. Overlooking the lake, it offers a taste of old-world Italy.
Within a short walk you can find…
Take advantage of the hotel speedboat and arrange an afternoon on Lake Garda, stopping off at the town of Sirmione for fine Italian gelato before escaping into the water for a dip. Alternatively, a short walk will take you to the Gardone Riviera where you can experience the hustle and bustle of village life and visit Vittoriale degli Italiani, the historic home of Italian poet Gabriele d'Annunzio.