Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Italian Lakes: Grand Hotel Menaggio or Eremo Gaudio in Varenna: Opinions, please!

Italian Lakes: Grand Hotel Menaggio or Eremo Gaudio in Varenna: Opinions, please!

Old May 4th, 2005, 10:56 AM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Italian Lakes: Grand Hotel Menaggio or Eremo Gaudio in Varenna: Opinions, please!

I am in the midst of making hotel plans for a relatively last-minute trip to Italy in mid-June. We'll be there for about 10 days, beginning in Venice and Verona and moving on to Lake Como for 3 days before heading home from Milan. After Venice, we are hoping to relax and not run around all that much. We're not sure if we'll rent a car or take public transport. We've done it both ways in other European countries, but this is our first trip to Italy. We are in our late 40s, in good shape so walking to destinations isn't a problem, appreciate good food but are not Foodies per se, not big nightlife folks, and have been gazing longingly at magazine spreads of the Italian Lakes long before George Clooney came to town.

Few Lake Como area properties had rooms available, or if they did, they were not lake view. So, currently I am evaluating these two properties and must respond to them within 24 hours or sooner. The GHM offers "1 SUPERIOR double room overlooking the lake with balcony & private service for Euro 280,00 per day per room on bed & breakfast accommodation" (www.grandhotelmenaggio.com) and the Eremo offers "superior double room with balcony, lake view and private bathroom at the price of 120 euros per night breakfast included. (www.eremogaudio.it)" Obvious price difference and not an inconsequential one, but the GHM's cost is not a deal breaker. I just want to choose the hotel where we'll feel most comfortable, have good access to lake transportation, and have good restaurants and atmosphere. I've read reviews of the hotels on tripadvisor (though the GHM doesn't have many). Varenna's appeal, from what I've read, is that it's quieter and smaller than some of the other Lake Como tourist towns, the train station is there, and with the ferries, one can get to other lake destinations with ease. Is the Eremo's distance from the town a drawback or a benefit? What is the walk like? Shoulder of a narrow busy road? Or peaceful, safe amble? And although the Eremo has what appears to be an incredible vista, does it feel too removed from the lake as opposed to the GHM, which is on the lake? As for Menaggio, it sounds like the best choice if one has a car, but with the ferry right beside the GHM, even the car-less could ferry to Varenna and take the train from there. So, is the GHM's location on the lake and in Menaggio and its more hotel-like qualities a better choice?

Can those of you familiar with either the hotels or the towns give me your opinions?
sadiegirl is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 11:21 AM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 12,071
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I like Menaggio if you have a car...easier access to Lake Lugano sites (look at the map, you'll see why). We stayed near the GHM, and it looked like a very nice place. I gets good reviews, too.

Varenna's a great town, so I think you'll have a good time regardless. Sorry, but I don't know the Eremo.
mr_go is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 12:02 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Grand Hotel Menaggio (as opposed to the Grand Hotel Victoria also in Menaggio) is located directly next to the ferry dock. Easy connections from there to both Varenna and to Bellagio.

The only train station is located in Varenna and in terms of getting to the Eremo Gaudio I cannot say for certain since I've only stayed at the DuLac in Varenna.

Varenna is smaller than Menaggio (which is the largest in area of the three mid-lake towns) and it is also on hillier terrain. Taxis usually meet every train arriving from Milan. The ferry dock is a 10-minute walk, all downhill, from the train station. Ferries to both Menaggio and to Bellagio take about 10-15 minutes.

IMO, Varenna is, in some ways, more typical, or perhaps even stereotypical, of a small Italian town. There seems to be somewhat less nightlife there than in either Menaggio or Bellagio.

The Eremo is not as close to the ferry dock in Varenna as is the GH in Menaggio.

I'm not certain that the GH has more "hotel-like qualities" than the Eremo but I am also not sure of just how you are defining that term.

Hopefully, others will offer more information.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 01:08 PM
  #4  
GAC
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,398
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I would choose the Eremo Gaudio. Hands down. The name "eremo" means "hermit's nest", which tells you a lot about the property. Much better value, plus fantastic views.

The GHM is a very nice, traditional grand hotel, but not exceptional by any means. It is next door to the ferry dock and only yards aways from the bus stop. The town of Menaggio, however, is very appealing, in some ways more appealing than Varenna.

The Eremo Gaudio is not as well positioned to public transportation, but represents a more unique solution.
GAC is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 03:36 PM
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thank you for your replies. Intrepid1, by "hotel-like", I meant that the GHM has more facilities such as a pool, restaurant, and is in town as opposed to the Eremo. Now, I don't know if we'd use the pool, Varenna has other restaurants, and if the walk from Eremo to town is okay, then Eremo is probably fine. GAC, your comment intrigues me: in what ways do you find Menaggio more appealing than Varenna?
sadiegirl is offline  
Old May 4th, 2005, 03:51 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,178
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
sadiegirl,

Can't offer any informed opinion on either hotel, but, like GAC, I preferred Menaggio to Varenna. The latter seemed just too quiet for us, although admittedly we were there very early in the season. Menaggio seemed to have a bit more life about it.

Here's a link to my trip report - it's far too long, I'm afraid, but if you can bothered trawling through it you'll find my thoughts on both Menaggio & Varenna;

http://www.fodors.com/forums/pgMessa...en_name=JJBhoy

Jim
JJBhoy is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 06:43 AM
  #7  
GAC
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,398
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Varenna is perhaps too "pretty" and too "sedate" for some (although an influx of tourists is changing this of late). Menaggio is more a "regular" lakeside town, more people, more places to stroll around, more shops, tourism is felt a little less than in Varenna.

Varenna, however, has the fabulous lakeside gardens of the Villa Monastero/Villa Cipressi, not to be missed. Varenna's main church is also very appealing (and very venerable), much more so than the one in Menaggio.
Varenna is quieter and more contemplative. Some might say more "refined", but only in an intellectual sense.

Choosing between Menaggio and Varenna is choosing between two states of mind and personality differences.
GAC is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 07:12 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Apr 2005
Posts: 172
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
I was in Como last October (stayed in Bellagio). I prefer Varenna over Menaggio because I think Varenna has more character.

I thought Menaggio was too busy (a lot more cars) and was really like a starting point for everyone else to go to other Lake Como towns. I thought about the GHM, but passed over it to stay in Bellagio - and I'm glad I did. I think I would have felt a bit out of it in Menaggio.

HOWEVER, as for the Eremo here's the bad - I passed the Eremo as I was returning from a hike to the source of the fumellato (spelling?). On the way down the hill (you hike up to the source, and down from the source), I saw these two young fit Americans making their way up the hill with their roller bags. They were huffing and puffing and sweating (it was about 75 degrees that day). Noticing that we were Americans, they asked, "did you happen to notice the Eremo?" I was happy to tell them that yes, we saw the sign, and that they were almost there - to their immediate delight. The hotel seemed charming and it was situated beautifully near these palatial gardens that are an attraction in and of itself and the source of the fumellatto. However, despite the charm and the location, I couldn't help but think how awful it would be to trek up and down two times a day (at least). If you have a car, however, that's fine.
aschie30 is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 12:19 PM
  #9  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Thanks again for everyone's input. I appreciate the insights into the "personalities" of the two locations. Still hoping to find someone who has stayed at the Er. in Varenna. aschie30, re: the hassle factor of the climb, yes, that's what concerns me, too. It's not that we can't do it, but do we want to have to do it?! That climb is probably why this was the only hotel in Varenna that still had a lake view room available when I wanted it!
sadiegirl is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 12:41 PM
  #10  
GAC
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,398
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
The Eremo Gaudio is supposed to have an elevator to avoid the steep hike. The elevator shaft is noticeable as far away as Menaggio on the other shore.
GAC is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 01:33 PM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,260
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
If, by chance, you decide NOT to stay in Varenna, there are other hotels in Menaggio, all with good lake views. The Bella Vista which is a couple minutes' walk beyond the GH and the GH Victoria, which is a couple more minutes walk beyond the BV.

As I said earlier, Menaggio is FLAT (at least the part you might be staying in) and IMO there is more going on at night, especially in the "town square" area which is directly lakeside. It is a place you can easily chill out in.

I realize this can be a hard decision if only because you have never BEEN there. I wish I could offer more but I'll leave it at this...GO there no matter what and after you do be sure to explore all three towns. You will not regret it.
Intrepid1 is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 02:51 PM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 1,178
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Absolutely agree with Intrepid1's last paragraph.

Jim
JJBhoy is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 06:50 PM
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Posts: 1,183
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
My daughter and I stayed at the Eremo Gaudio in September of 2003 and we loved it. If you are concerned about the walk from the train station there is a cab available, it's just a few minutes by cab and perhaps 15 minutes by foot. There is not a lot of traffic in Varenna, which is part of it's appeal. It is a small fishing village and there is no "nightlife", other than having a coffee or gelato in a small lakeside cafe. It is quiet and quite beautiful. We had a room on the very top floor with a balcony that provided the most exquisite sunset imaginable !! The staff was very friendly and accomodating. Even if your room is not on the upper level, there is a terrace one floor below that offers the same view. The hotel is quiet and off the beaten path. There are two glass lifts that take you to "the top". The town is just a few minutes walk away peaceful and safe. We had a delicious prociutto (sp?) pizza at the Victoria Grill in the central part of town. The Albergo Olivedo located along the Passerella (a walkway that connects the town to the ferry dock) makes the best pesto gnocchi I've ever eaten !! We also stayed at the Villa Cipressi and that was lakeside although our room was not on the lake side. I wouldn't recommend their dinner.

My aunt and I will be in Varenna for a week beginning May 21. The ferry is convenient and we will be traveling to a small town southeast of Como to visit my granfather's hometown. We plan to relax and prepare for the rest of our visit to Italy the following three weeks. Have a wonderful trip!!
susiedq is offline  
Old May 5th, 2005, 07:01 PM
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 21,261
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
A lake view from your room is wonderful, but I wouldn't make it the determining factor. I know, I know. You dream of Como, you go to Como, you want the view.

But hopefully you'll be spending your days checking out the mid-lake area (not sitting at the window in your room), traveling around on the ferries and eating meals on outdoor terraces. You're going to see many, many gorgeous views of the lake. Hard not to.

I would pick the town you want to stay in, then find a hotel that appeals at the price you want to pay.

For what it's worth, I vote Varenna.
Up in the hills (perhaps near the Eremo) is a castle in ruins. (Small entry fee.) The ruins aren't much, but there is a falconry located on site. The falconer exercises the birds several times a day. Sitting on castle walls, watching these birds with the lake below is like stepping into a fairy tale.
Jean is offline  
Old May 6th, 2005, 12:12 AM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 101
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Glad to see this post!

We are staying at the Eremo Gaudio May 19-23 and have been looking for info on Varenna also.

We will follow-up on this post when we return June 3rd to let you know our experience.
latenighter is offline  
Old May 6th, 2005, 10:17 AM
  #16  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 12
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, folks, I've made the reservation at Eremo. Thanks to all of you for your help. We decided on Varenna because the descriptions of the town seemed to best match the type of quieter, mellow experience that we're hoping to have. And, as several of you pointed out, the important thing is to just go! Latenighter, have a terrific trip and let us all know how the Eremo worked for you!
sadiegirl is offline  
Old Jun 6th, 2005, 05:53 AM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 101
Likes: 0
Received 0 Likes on 0 Posts
Well, we are back from Italy and my husband and I absolutely loved the Eremo Gaudio!! We stayed in the TeodeLinda (spelling) room with the incredible Terrace!!! We highly recommend staying there for the views, the staff and their terrace restaurant! The food was excellent. The walk into town just took us 5 minutes by foot - down hill! There is the funicular to take up to the hotel, so it's not bad at all. We checked out the other parts of the Lake and we would only go back to Varenna! It was less touristy and quiet/quaint!! Enjoy!
latenighter is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Original Poster
Forum
Replies
Last Post
Newbie00
Europe
6
Nov 26th, 2011 11:49 AM
iorioj
Europe
13
Jun 10th, 2008 03:34 AM
shormk2
Europe
22
Apr 3rd, 2008 04:09 PM
bodhijack
Europe
8
Mar 12th, 2006 02:50 PM
schnauzer
Europe
9
Apr 30th, 2005 03:26 AM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Do Not Sell My Personal Information