I love hotels, and while I enjoy luxurious amenities, I especially enjoy a unique hotel. I recently spent four nights and a historic and beautiful hotel that was both unique and luxurious. The Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees is located in a stunning location on Lake Maggiore overlooking the lake. It’s just a few minutes walk from the quaint Italian town of Stresa.
I was so sad to leave this hotel and would love to return. I plan to spend several days just relaxing at the hotel because the onsite amenities and beautiful gardens are that nice.
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Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees Review: Lake Maggiore Stresa
Location and Check-in
This hotel was the first of three hotels that we stayed in during our Adventures by Disney Italy Switzerland trip (AbD). We arrived a day early and booked our stay through AbD. Therefore, we were able to stay in the same rooms for our entire stay.
Upon arriving at Milan airport (the closest to the hotel), we were greeted by our driver and started the hour’s drive to Lake Maggiore. (Book a private transfer here). As soon as we pulled up to the hotel, I knew we were in for a special day. There are gorgeous gardens leading up to the grand, historic hotel.
The lobby is quaint and extraordinary, with a concierge desk and a check-in desk. We arrived after the standard check-in time, and our two rooms were ready. This hotel, like other historic European hotels, gives you a real key for your hotel room door. These are dropped off at the concierge desk whenever you depart the hotel, so there’s no risk of losing the key.
After we checked in and had freshened up a bit, we were hungry for dinner. The concierge desk directed us into Stresa to Mamma Mia. The walk was about 10 minutes, and the restaurant was excellent and exactly what we were looking for after a full day of travel.
Room types at the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees
Like many European hotels (especially older ones), you need two hotel rooms to accommodate a family of four. For our family with two teens, this was helpful because it meant we had two bathrooms to use to get ready each morning.
Our room had two twin beds pushed together, a safe, a television, a small desk, a chair, and two nightstands. There was also a long wall of closets, as well as a bathroom with a large shower and two sinks.
The best part of the room, however, was the small balcony with an amazing lake view. We absolutely loved the balcony and the view.
In addition to these lake-view rooms, there are garden-view rooms and attic rooms. In addition, there are a variety of different suite options, including a junior suite, royal suite, and imperial suite.
There’s also the Hemingway Suite, named after Ernest Hemingway, who spent some time in the hotel. This grand suite includes two bedrooms, three bathrooms, and a living room.
While you can save money on the view, I’d definitely recommend springing for the lake view room if possible. It was so nice to have that fantastic view.
Dining at the Grand Hotel
The breakfast buffet at the Grand Hotel Des Iles Borromees was my favorite among the hotels we visited. It includes an array of delicious options, including charcuterie, fresh cheese, mouthwatering pastries, eggs, fruits, and even some gluten-free options. Indoor and outdoor seating is available – I’d recommend sitting outdoors if possible for a great view.
If you’d prefer to have breakfast in your room, that’s also an option. There’s a door tag that you can place on your door in the evening. In the morning, a silver cart will be delivered to your room with your choice of coffee (including cappuccino and espresso) or tea, and pastries. While it isn’t as robust a breakfast as the buffet, it’s a great option.
We also dined at Le Bistrot, a casual outdoor restaurant and bar located by the outdoor pools. Reservations are accepted, although we were able to eat here without a reservation. They have a great menu with sandwiches and appetizers, and we thoroughly enjoyed our lunch.
There’s also a restaurant, Il Borromeo Restaurant. While we didn’t eat in the restaurant, we did have some food prepared by them for our private dinner. Like the breakfast, everything was fantastic.
Finally, there’s a lobby bar called Hemingway’s that is open in the evenings. It’s a bright, airy bar, and is a great place to grab an evening drink, either before or after dinner.
Amenities at the Resort
We had a full day at the hotel prior to the start of our Adventures by Disney trip. While we could have explored the local area, we instead decided to spend some time at the beautiful outdoor pool area.
The outdoor Pools in the Park was opened in 2021, so it’s still very new. It includes a pool with a diving board, a natural pool, a smaller pool, and more. There are also seats with umbrellas and small tables along the pool’s edge. A pool attendant is available in the summer.
There’s also a fantastic spa at the resort, including some indoor treatment rooms located right along the pool area. There’s also an indoor spa area, that is not to be missed.
In your room, you’ll see a small plastic tote with flip-flops and towels. Grab that bag and your robes, before you visit the spa. You need to wear flip-flops throughout the spa.
In addition to traditional spa treatments, there’s also a complimentary spa area with an indoor pool that is available for guests to use. After a particularly hot day touring the town, I took some time to visit. This area includes a Kneipp Path, a musical pool, a Hammam spa, a Sauna, a Turkish Bath, Snow Room, and Emotional Showers.
The Kneipp Path, which includes a waist-length walking path with warm and cold pools, was especially refreshing. I also loved the snow room, a small glass room where snow actually falls from the sky.
There are also gardens throughout the hotel, which are beautiful to walk through. There’s even a private garden with a heliport across the street along the lake. It’s a stunning hotel, which you’ll notice from the moment you pull up.
Activities in the Area
While you can definitely spend lots of time at the hotel, there are also some great things to do in the nearby area. The town of Stresa, located about a ten-minute walk from the hotel, offers shops and restaurants. It’s a small town, but definitely fun to explore.
There are also three islands – Isola Madre, Isola Bella, and Isola dei Pescatori. You can take a hop-on, hop-off ferry to all three of the islands, which can be easily explored. Book the ferry here. We really enjoyed visiting Isola Bella’s palace and gorgeous Italian gardens.
Frequently Asked Questions
You’ll be able to explore the three Lake Maggiore islands, as well as the small town of Stresa.
The hotel is kid-friendly, although not specifically a kid hotel. The pools are especially nice for families to enjoy.