Villa Arcadio

Salo, Lake Garda, Italian Lakes & Verona, Italy Book from Eur250

Elegant villa hotel set among olive and citrus groves in the hills above Salò, with heavenly views of Lake Garda
A former monastery, it had been empty for decades when Francesco and Jaana bought the villa in 1996. A seasoned travel-industry pro, Jaana was looking for a new project. And this was some task; transforming a medieval ruin into an 18-room boutique hotel took the best part of 10 years.

Behind rough rubbled stone, she has created elegant salons illuminated by walls of glass and furnished with a stylish collection of English grandfather clocks, Italian prints, antique mirrors and smart Casa Milano armchairs. There is a candlelit dining room under a vaulted ceiling, an inner courtyard of trailing bougainvillea, and a glamorous outdoor pool lined with loungers. But the location is the thing. Step onto the terrace, where laced wrought-iron chairs sit beneath a vine-draped pergola, and look at that heavenly view: lush gardens speared with cypress trees and, beyond, the sparkling waters of Italy’s largest lake. Watch the sun slip behind the green mountains, or the twinkling lights of Salò against a fading evening sky. Pure magic.

Highs

  • Blissing out by the pool as boats shimmer across the lake below
  • Delicious food, much of it prepared from fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in the gardens
  • Superb design in the rooms, where sleek furniture and expensive linens sit under beamed ceilings or fragments of rescued 13th-century frescoes
  • Nearby Salò, a charming lakeside town with bars, restaurants and upmarket boutiques
  • Private garaging for cars with key-card entry/exit

Lows

  • There’s a constant hum of traffic from the nearby road, though the double glazing cuts out most of the noise
  • If you like to soak in a tub then you may be disappointed - the bathrooms have showers only
  • Rooms can be rather pricey in high season
  • You'll need a car to make the most of a stay here, although taxis can be arranged and there is a bus stop close by

Best time to go

Come in spring for blossom and balmy weather, or in early summer for beautiful gardens, fragrant jasmine and bright geraniums. Autumn is also spectacular, with wine and olive oil harvests; warm weather often lingers until late October. It can get hot and quite busy around the lake in July/August, though the air-conditioned hotel is a cool escape from the crowds. Villa Arcadio closes from December to March (exact dates vary).

Our top tips

Drive the road which hugs the western shore of the lake, plunging in and out of rock tunnels and skirting vineyards and handsome villages. The journey up to Riva del Garda at the northern tip takes around an hour.

Great for...

Foodie
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 18
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • All ages welcome.
  • Closed: 1 Nov 2015 - 17 Mar 2016
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Sauna
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service
  • Bicycles Available
  • Boat hire available
  • Fitness trail
Room: Suite

Rooms

There is a hint of the monastic in the hotel’s 18 rooms: the décor is simple, natural, textural - no jazz, no frills - and the luxury lies in the detail: expensive linens, dark wood, subtle lighting, soft non-allergenic pillows and super-comfortable twin or deluxe double beds (apparently made by somebody well-trained in hospital corners).

In some rooms there are beautiful walls of exposed stone, in others, remnants of vintage frescoes. Some of the upper rooms (there are 3 floors) have high beamed ceilings, but all share the same soothing style, with desk-like console tables, big cubist armchairs, pewter-coloured rugs on terracotta floors, and sunlight pouring in through the windows, each framing an Arcadian view of the lake, the garden, or both.

The best vistas are from the hotel’s only Suite, which is arranged as an open-plan apartment with a bedroom and living space. There is also a trio of roomy Junior Suites, each with an entrance hall and sofa area. The Standard and Deluxe Rooms vary in size, but this is one place where you won’t feel short-changed if you go for the smaller categories. One of the most petite, Room 1 on the ground floor, is a lovely little room with French windows opening onto a dinky terrace overlooking the garden.

All rooms have air conditioning, flat-screen plasma TVs, mini-fridges, mineral water and internet access. Bathrooms are light and efficient but tend to be on the small side, with glass shower cubicles and marble basins, but no tubs. Toiletries, slippers and bathrobes are provided.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Whether it's breakfast on the terrace overlooking the lake, lunch by the pool or dinner in the restaurant, eating at Villa Arcadio is one of the joys of staying here - thanks to impeccable service and, of course, wonderful food, much of it prepared from fresh fruit, vegetables and herbs grown in the hotel’s own kitchen garden.

In the restaurant, housed under the stone arches of a cloister-like space, the tables are laid with sparkling cutlery, candelabras and crisp table linen; there are ornate fireplaces at either end, the walls in between lined with antique prints and gilt mirrors. In summer, scents from the garden waft in through open doors (or you can sit outside); in winter, it’s cosy and candlelit.

The à la carte menu changes according to the season and might include seared scallops with tomato jelly, pumpkin and spring onion risotto or spaghetti with white lake fish and anchovies. But we highly recommend the 4-course 'menu of the day' (see Rates); during our visit, this kicked off with coriander rabbit terrine and mixed salad, followed by ricotta-filled ravioli with a fresh cherry tomato and basil sauce. Our main was roasted duck breast with a cherry and Merlot sauce, our dessert a delicious strawberry zucotto. Among the wines of the region, try a Groppello (red), Chiaretto (a light, dry rosé) or Lugana (white).

Breakfast is a decorative buffet of meats, cheeses, fresh fruit, breads, pastries, salads and savouries. On a fine day, you can eat out on the terrace, where wrought-iron chairs sit under a canopy of vines overlooking Garda and the mountains beyond.

If you want to eat out, there are dozens of waterside restaurants in Salò or Gardone Riviera - ask hotel staff for recommendations.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Room service
  • Vegetarian menu
Eating:
Activity: Salò

Activities

  • Chill out among the bougainvillea on the terrace, or lounge by the pool and gaze at the view
  • Spend some time in charming Salò, a lakeshore town of narrow streets, squares and waterside walkways, and visit the historical museum inside the Loggia della Magnifica Patria
  • Explore Lake Garda by boat - either on the hotel's own boat, on an organised excursion or on one of the frequent ferries that hop from one harbour to another. From the quay at Salò, you can sail to Gardone Riviera, Desenzano, Torri del Benaco and Garda
  • In summer, you can also take a boat tour from Barbarano di Salò to Isola del Garda, a tiny, private island. The 2-hour tour takes in the Borghese Cavazza family’s neo-Gothic villa and its glorious English and Italian gardens
  • Visit Il Vittoriale - the extraordinary, eccentric home of early 20th-century Italian poet Gabriele d’Annunzio, set in beautiful gardens above Gardone Riviera (around 10km from Villa Arcadio)
  • From pretty Malcesine to the northeast of the lake (accessible by ferry from Maderno in the west), a cable car of rotating gondolas climbs up Monte Baldo - a green and oft snow-capped mountain with sweeping views
  • Get your hiking boots and get into them hills: there is wonderful walking in the Alto Garda National Park, or just head out of the hotel gates and up to the top of the wooded hill behind for fantastic views of the lake
  • Ask staff to organise a trip to the Comincioli Numero One factory - producer of the world’s best olive oil (10 minutes away) - or to the Bresciano wine cantinas of the Groppello and Chiaretto regions
  • Bikes are available for guest use - with quiet roads and some challenging hills, this is classic cycling country
  • A round of golf, perhaps? There are 7 courses in the area, the nearest at Soiano al Lago (8km away)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting

Kids

The hotel feels a little too grown-up, too chilled, for hordes of kids, but they are welcome. Cots can be provided in rooms for a small charge, extra beds for a higher charge. Babysitters are available on request.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting is available by arrangement.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

8/
Rooms
9/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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Rates for Villa Arcadio