Vivere Suites

Arco, Lake Garda, Italian Lakes & Verona, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Abi Dare
A cool yet cosseting all-suite B&B on a working vineyard, with a pool, spa treatments and bikes to borrow
Modern minimalism isn’t quite what you expect in a corner of Italy characterised by grandiose villas and ancient castles, but that’s exactly what winemaker and restaurateur Edy Longo has created in the quiet town of Arco, just beyond the northern tip of Lake Garda. What’s even more surprising is just how well the sleek lines of his contemporary concrete cube fit in a landscape of rugged peaks, forested slopes and silvery olive groves.

Clustered around a saltwater pool, whose indigo water reflects the towering mountains above, are 6 spacious suites, a small spa area and a decked terrace with cushioned daybeds. Everywhere you look, vast walls of glass gaze out over the sea of vines which Edy’s family has tended for generations. While the décor has been pared down, the comfort factor certainly hasn’t; above all, this is a place to kick back and unwind. There are bikes to borrow if you want to explore, and the waterfront town of Riva del Garda is only 10 minutes away, but chances are you’ll spend most of your days in a lazy haze of sunbathing, massages and poolside drinks. And don't worry if you can't muster the energy to head out for food: meal delivery from Edy’s nearby restaurant is only a phone call away.

Highs

  • An excellent location away from the tourist crowds, but within easy reach of the lake for sightseeing, sailing and windsurfing
  • Every suite has a private garden, a sitting area and its own entrance (some have little kitchenettes, too) - perfect for loved-up couples and stressed-out city folk who want to cocoon themselves away from the world
  • We loved the lantern-lit terrace - sit back with a glass of wine as the sinking sun casts a rosy glow over the valley
  • Total tranquility - the only sounds we heard were chirruping crickets, occasional church bells and the low hum of a distant tractor
  • An extensive breakfast spread (unusual for Italy), with local cheeses, salami, eggs and delicious pastries alongside Vivere's own honey, jam and olive oil

Lows

  • It's pricey for a B&B, with a 10% surcharge on stays of less than 3 nights, but you get a lot of space for your Euro
  • It’s next to a small industrial estate, but once through the gates all you can see are vines and mountains
  • No twin beds - the suites are geared towards couples, though children are welcome in limited numbers
  • It can be tricky to find (our SatNav took us the wrong way down a one-way street), so make sure you print out our detailed directions, provided automatically when you book
  • Edy lives down the road and isn’t always on site, but he’ll be over in minutes if you need assistance

Best time to go

This is a wonderful escape at any time of year. We visited in early May, when temperatures were balmy but the mountains high above us still topped with snow. Autumn is another great time to come, particularly if you want to experience the wine and olive harvests. Be prepared for swarms of tourists in July and August, though Arco is set back from the lakeshore and is therefore much quieter than other towns in the area. Vivere Suites closes from November to March, apart from a week or so over Christmas and New Year.

Our top tips

Many of the beautiful Gianni Vigone textiles are available to buy, and they're worth the spend - robes, towels and blankets made from the softest natural fibres, with subtle hand-woven textures.

Great for...

Eco
Family
Great Outdoors
Honeymoon
Spa
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 6
  • Breakfast + meal delivery (restaurants nearby)
  • All ages welcome
  • Closed: 10 Dec 2016 - 31 Mar 2017
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Bicycles Available
Room: Corner Suite

Rooms

There’s a touch of industrial chic about the 6 suites - artfully rusted doors, grey walls, hessian curtains, polished concrete floors, minimalist furniture hewn from blocks of wood. It may sound stark, but beamed ceilings, banks of cushions and baby-soft textiles from Italian designer Gianni Vigone keep things warm and cosy.

Each suite has a double bed, a sitting area with a low-slung couch, and niches with hanging space for clothes. The small but snazzy ensuites come with walk-in showers (no tubs) and stainless steel sinks; tall windows provide glimpses of the mountains as you wash, but clever angles prevent any Peeping Toms. In-room treats include bathrobes, slippers, Nespresso machines, Etro Milan toiletries and free bottles of San Pellegrino, and the minibars are stocked with Vivere’s own wine. Best of all, sliding walls of glass lead to private gardens with loungers, tables and chairs, and high walls that ensure total seclusion without obscuring the view of the soaring peaks all around.

We stayed in one of the 3 South Suites, which catch the sun all day and have little kitchenettes hidden away behind banks of sleek cupboard doors. Also with a kitchenette is the Corner Suite, whose large garden wraps around 2 sides. The Studio Suite and the Romantic Suite are smaller, with no cooking facilities, but they’re by no means tiny; the latter has a four-poster and, as the name suggests, makes a great little nest for couples and honeymooners.

Whichever suite you choose, you’ll sleep well. The beds are beautifully firm, with cloud-like duvets and good pillows, and black-out blinds mean you can easily snooze until noon.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette in some suites
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Private garden
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Slippers
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

Italians don’t really do breakfast. Thankfully Edy is an exception, and a tasty spread of pastries, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, fresh juice, cereal, jam, honey and yoghurt is laid out until 11am - either outside, or by the fire in the lounge on cooler days. Tea and coffee are made to order, and if you want eggs, just ask - we enjoyed a delicious omelette with juicy tomatoes, mozzarella and herbs.

If you get peckish during the day, you’ll find fruit and biscuits by the bar on the terrace. Hot drinks are also available whenever you want (just help yourself if Edy isn't around), along with wine and a few cocktails.

For other meals, you can drive out to one of the lakeside restaurants in Riva del Garda, stroll the 300m to Edy's Pizzeria Centrale or another Arco eatery, or order meal delivery from the menu in your suite. Too chilled to move from our garden, we took the latter route and tucked into crispy pizzas topped with gorgonzola and pepperoni, along with creamy tiramisu and a bottle of Vivere’s smooth and fruity Merlot. There are some more sophisticated options to choose from, too, including asparagus risotto, brie and rocket calzone and grilled steak with porcini mushrooms.

If you’re staying in a South or Corner Suite, you can also whip something up in your kitchenette. You won’t find an oven or any fancy equipment, but there’s a 2-ring hob, a microwave, a sink, a fridge and a dishwasher, as well as crockery, cutlery and a few pots and pans - just enough to prepare salads, sandwiches and simple pasta concoctions. Vivere honey, olive oil and jam are on sale in reception, and there are supermarkets in Arco and Riva del Garda.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee maker
  • Meal delivery, plus kitchenettes in some suites
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Borrow one of Vivere’s bikes and head out on a gentle cycle through the vineyards and olive groves, or tackle the climb up to Arco castle, perched precariously on a limestone outcrop behind the B&B
  • Head 5km down the road to Riva del Garda for a wander along the lakeshore, a laze under the pines on its shingly beach, and a gelato in one of the waterside cafés. It's also a great place for sailing and windsurfing
  • Visit Limone, a little way down the western shore. It’s an elegant if rather touristy little town, made rich by terraced citrus groves. The fruit-growing industry has declined, but its market stalls still brim with bright bottles of lemon liquor
  • Or head down the lake’s eastern flank to Malcesine, a former fishing harbour with a maze of cobbled streets huddled beneath a medieval castle. From here, rotating cable cars swoosh up to the summit of 2,220m-high Monte Baldo, with panoramic views for miles around
  • Hop on a boat and take in the scenery from the water. Ferries run from Riva del Garda all the way down to Sirmione at the southern end of the lake. You’ll pass pretty villages and palm-filled gardens tumbling down towards the water - and you’ll avoid the traffic which clogs the roads for much of the year
  • Verona is within easy driving distance, so set aside a day to explore its Roman arena, frescoed piazzas and upmarket boutiques
  • Wine and olive-oil tastings are easily arranged. If you’re here in autumn, you can help with the harvest and learn more about the processes involved
  • If you’re feeling particularly energetic, Edy can also organise trekking tours and canyoning. If not, head back to the B&B for massage or a spot of poolside yoga (advance booking required; i-escape guests get a 10% discount)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Canyoning
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Private guided tours
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Trekking
  • Well being
  • Windsurfing
  • Wine tasting
  • Yoga

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, though Edy tries to limit the number of families staying at any one time in order to preserve the tranquility for other guests, most of whom are couples.

All suites have a couch that can be made up as an extra bed, and baby cots can be provided (both incur an additional charge). Highchairs are also available, and the kitchenettes in the South and Corner Suites are handy for heating up baby food or preparing kids’ snacks. Note that all suites have showers only (no tubs).

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Kid Friendly: Restaurants in Riva del Garda

Our guests' ratings...

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

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