Posted by Jo Blair on 31st Oct 2019 -- Read Time: 5 minutes
Spotlight on: The Iseolago Hotel, Lake Iseo
It’s a key part of my job to match my clients and their groups with the perfect hotel, so in addition to understanding my client’s needs, it is also important for me to understand exactly what facilities and services a hotel can offer, and how good its location is within a particular area. In July I was in the Lombardy region of Italy, so whilst there I took the opportunity to stay at the Iseolago Hotel, which is found on the shores of Lake Iseo. On paper, this hotel is perfect for many of my groups – but I always like to visit a hotel in person when I can, to see the standards of service and catering for myself.
The Iseolago Hotel is a Success Tours favourite in Lombardy, and a popular choice for many of our groups thanks to its proximity to several historic and cultural attractions, the wonderful landscapes all around, its relaxing location and its excellent food and drink offerings. I love to find unspoilt, hidden gems for our clients; for me, the lesser-known towns and villages often have the edge over well-travelled and busy cities when they are within easy reach of interesting attractions. This hotel has plenty of cultural interest in the area – within driving distance are the gorgeous cities of Bergamo, Brescia, and many fantastic art galleries and museums. It is also not far from the more well-known sights of Lake Garda and Lake Como. The fact that it is also surrounded by beautiful scenery, characterful towns and wonderful architecture is the icing on the cake, so I wanted to explore this for myself.
This low rise, 4-star hotel is set within its own peaceful grounds with really good facilities, including lovely gardens, outdoor seating, a swimming pool area surrounded by sun loungers, and a sun terrace. During the summer season, hotel guests also have access to the neighbouring Sassabanek lido (with three pools) and park, which has direct lake access. The hotel has bicycles for hire and a mini bus shuttle service into the sweet lakeside town of Iseo, which follows a schedule (€1pp) or can be requested (€5pp). The hotel is located just 1km away from Iseo however, so it’s a flat and easy walk. With the lake nearby and the mountains providing a backdrop, it certainly is beautifully situated.
During my stay, I had a standard room which was comfortable and equipped with a mini bar, safe, hairdryer, and WiFi. All of the rooms are en-suite, and all have a balcony. I have to be honest though, the rest of the hotel and its grounds were so lovely that I spent very little time in my room!
The hotel has a large lobby area with seating, a bar which also had plenty of seating, and an indoor restaurant with an outside dining terrace attached. I ate at the hotel’s restaurant in order to sample what was on the menu for groups, who are offered three choices for each of the three courses which are selected from the a la carte menu. I was delighted to find that Iseolago’s offering was far beyond the usual ‘group menu’ – in fact, it was as close to fine dining as you’d get! I selected the veal parmigiana (a delicious escalope served with aubergine, tomato and melted mozzarella) with thyme-roasted potatoes, washed down with a smooth glass of the local red wine, Franciacorta. I was really impressed, the food was both fabulous and beautifully presented. Naturally, I had to try a dessert (for research purposes, of course) so I enjoyed a gorgeous lime cheesecake. As always in Italy, I finished with a small, strong coffee. As it was the height of summer and very warm, I ate on the covered outdoor terrace which was wonderful: with lovely leafy surroundings, it had a relaxed atmosphere, nonetheless the friendly waiters were very smartly dressed and offered a professional service.
As well as the excellent food, one of the stand-out benefits of the Iseolago Hotel was its location. It is literally by the shores of Lake Iseo, a huge and beautiful lake that is very unspoilt, and much less touristy than some of the other lakes in northern Italy. I loved the feel and atmosphere of both the lake and of Iseo town – although it had plenty of character, it was quiet and unassuming. There were plenty of Italian voices to be heard in town, and very few English ones, which made me feel truly immersed in Italian culture. I noticed many Italians cooling off during the afternoon with a crema di caffè, so I couldn’t resist trying it for myself: cold and refreshing, it’s a like a soft, coffee ice cream and provided the perfect respite from the July temperatures.
One thing I’d been keen to investigate on Lake Iseo was its mountainous island, Monte Isola – more specifically, its suitability for group tours. This wooded green terrain erupts dramatically out of the lake, so I had concerns as to whether it would be accessible enough for all of our clients. Indeed, although the ferry ride over to the island was beautiful, I discovered that the activities on the island were mostly strenuous hiking or biking on the steep slopes. A small sanctuary at the top dates back to the 14th century, however the small minibus that runs people up here was certainly not big enough for groups, unfortunately.
I found that this trip to the Iseolago Hotel was extremely useful. I already knew that it was in an interesting area that offered interesting cultural and scenic excursions within a short distance, but I was pleased to confirm for myself what a lovely area this is, and to experience the peace, relaxation and comfort of the hotel directly. It was really beneficial to meet face-to-face with the right people at the hotel to allow them to get a good understanding of what we require for our clients, and I am confident that the Iseolago Hotel will be perfect for many of our groups’ members.