A three-country tour from Venice that criss-crosses Switzerland: besides Europe's highest mountain, the Matterhorn, you will stop at beautiful Lake Geneva, explore the Burgundy province of France, then return to Italy via Davos and stunning Lake Garda. The tour could easily be amended to begin and end in Zurich.
The host, Giuliano Dall'Agnola, managed a hotel on the Lido for ten years before deciding to open his own place in a historic 5th-century building. The building needed a total renovation, but Giuliano was wise in his choice of location - it's perfect, tucked away in a tiny side street just a few steps from Piazza San Marco.
One shouldn't be put off by the exterior: the hotel is an unimpressive grey building with a nondescript door. The entry hall is quite simple as well, with a check-in desk and a staircase leading to the upper floors. But here's where the guests are in for a surprise: the rooms, decorated by Marcella, are extremely attractive and offer great comfort in the heart of Venice. All the walls are covered in fabric and enhanced by colour-coordinated draperies and bedspreads, while Venetian-style furnishings, including painted headboards and Murano glass chandeliers, complete the appealing ambiance. The amenities also far outshine what one would expect from a budget hotel. The quiet rooms are air-conditioned, have direct-dial phones, mini bars, televisions, and well-equipped, modern bathrooms. All of the rooms are pleasant, some with views overlooking a small square. What makes this intimate hotel so special is the care provided by its owners, who pamper guests like friends visiting their home.
Rental car pick-up
Type: Fiat Punto 1.3 MJT or similar
Pick-up location: Venice Downtown
The historical manor house sits in the medieval village of Cannobio, a resort on Lake Maggiore, a few kilometers south of the Swiss border. Following an extensive restoration it combines authentic medieval architecture with all the comforts of a modern hotel. Original frescoes, vaulted ceilings and massive century-old stone pillars are complemented by period furniture. The twelve rooms vary in color and decor. Some overlook the lake, others the car-free Old Town. The breakfast room seems to have emerged straight from the 18 century. The exclusive dining room on the first floor with an open fireplace provides the ideal setting for a relaxing evening over a glass or two of good wine.
Red and zebra is the surprisingly attractive colour combination that greets guests to this tastefully decorated hotel, in which every room is different, and every room features a carefully coordinated colour scheme. As guests will happily discover, the entire property has been thoughtfully designed to please the body and soul, from the gourmet restaurant in the warm, wood-panelled dining room to the full three levels of swimming pool and spa facilities. The extraordinary hotel endeavours to make a stay there an instrinsic part of the Zermatt experience. And it succeeds.
The family-run inn on the shores of Lake Geneva offers the charm of a small hotel with a French ambiance. The inn20 bedrooms were completely refurbished in 2001. Guests can relax in the outdoor restaurant and enjoy the beautiful lakeside views, which are also offered by many of the bedrooms. The city centre of Lausanne is just a seven-minute walk away. The friendly hotel represents a rare find in this overly expensive city: A good value for the money.
The small hotel in the centre of Zurich prides itself as an "oasis of tranquillity" in the heart of the city, and indeed the ability to relax in the secluded garden next to the Neptune fountain dating back to 1770 is one of the many features that set this property apart. The small hotel with 35 individually decorated bedrooms offers convenience and comfort on the highest level. Lovers of wine and gourmet cooking will appreciate the restaurant's market-fresh cuisine and exquisite wine cellar. The pleasant oasis in the bustling city is the ideal refuge after a hard day of sightseeing in the nearby Old Town.
The hotel is situated near the historical DevilBridge on what for centuries was the main trading route across the Alps. Since completion of the Gotthard Road Tunnel in 1980, however, it has grown nearly as quiet in these parts as it was when Goethe stayed in Andermatt on his way to Italy over 200 years ago. The bedrooms in the traditional Swiss hotel are bright and comfortable. Regional Swiss specialities are served in the wood-panelled dining room called the
The villa is a renovated 15th century manor house set on the green hillside that slopes steeply down to Lake Garda. The sensational views will make your stay unforgettable. The well-appointed rooms contain a delicate blend of works of art and antique furniture. The stone house stands in a magnificent park called "The Garden of the Senses", where both body and mind can relax. The 80,000 square meter park contains lush vegetation, broken here and there by natural water falls and gently shaded paths. A succession of small clearings, fruit trees, ornamental shrubs, flowers and aromatic herb gardens conveys a sense of peace and well-being.
Rental car drop off
Drop off location: Venice, Airport
Rental car company: AVIS (Italy)
Type: Fiat Punto evo 1.3 or similar (Group C)
Equipment: Air-conditioning, power-steering, radio