This is my archive review of a stay at the Hotel Rivalago in Sulzano several years ago. Hopefully it will help give an idea of the hotel and its setting – but I’d recommend checking the latest guest reviews through the online booking links provided before you make a booking to get the most up-to-date picture (these are my affiliate links and will help support the website).
About the hotel
Hotel Rivalago is a smart and airy four-star hotel right on the shore of Lake Iseo (the hotel name means ‘lake-shore’). It’s located in the village of Sulzano, on the eastern shore of the lake. The hotel is freshly refurbished and decorated, with ample public spaces and facilities including a lawn, terrace and swimming pool by the water’s edge. We stayed there for several nights in October 2007 and thought it an extremely comfortable place to stay with very helpful staff.
Booking online and prices
We booked online and got a good rate (this is the quiet season). For a double room with a lake view we paid 104 per night, and for single use of a standard double we paid 63. Breakfast was included in the rate.
Bedroom and facilities
The hotel is very modern and comfortable; so new-looking that I almost expected to smell fresh paint (but the only scent was the pleasant room fragrance). Unlike typical Italian hotels, everything was light, bright, fresh, spacious and in perfect condition. The decor was up-to-date and attractive, with an airy and comfortable style.
Autumn wasn’t the best time to take advantage of the outdoors space, a grassy lawn and swimming pool with great views over the lake to the island of Monte Isola. But there was also a reasonable amount of warm public space inside: a sitting area in the large open entrance hall, and another cosy lounge lined with books. The hotel has a small bar, and in the lounge there is a computer with internet access. The bedrooms also have internet connections, and from our first-floor room we could use a free wireless connection with a password provided at reception.
Both our rooms were a good size; the lake-view room having a little more space. They were nicely decorated, furnished and equipped, and the beds were made with duvets – a matter of taste if you prefer this, but we were pleased. Rather surprisingly, there was no mini-bar – but again this is a matter of taste and I personally find the humming of a fridge rather annoying. The other furnishings were as you’d expect: a wardrobe, suitcase stand, desk, tv, sitting chairs, and a small table. Helpfully, the staff had laid out some leaflets about the area. The complimentary Ferragamo toiletries were another good touch.
The rooms were spotless and everything was was good quality and brand new. The smartly-dressed chambermaids were unobtrusive and cleaned very thoroughly although they did fail to replenish the posh toiletries (one of the lovely reception ladies provided more). Bathrooms had good large showers and nice big white fluffy towels. The lake view room was as promised, the standard room at the rear of the building overlooked the little car park. Although it was nice to have a cosy place to return to during the cold evenings, the room heating was rather excessive – over 25 degrees centigrade and I couldn’t seem to adjust the thermostat.
Breakfast at the Hotel Rivalago was one of the best we’ve enjoyed in Italy. Several tables in the airy breakfast room were groaning under the generous spread. The buffet included cakes which tasted home-made, several types of fresh bread including baguettes, filled pastries and croissants, boiled eggs, cheese, cold meat, fresh fruit, cereals and the normal dry and packaged stuff. We’d award top marks for the choice of drinks, which included real fresh fruit juice, not the watered sugared kind we complain about in every hotel review. Waitresses were prompt to offer hot drinks.
The hotel’s reception desk was staffed by two or three different young women, all of whom had a good grasp of English. They were very friendly and helpful, providing information, advice and all sorts of minor assistance from cups of tea (supplied with little slices of cake) to internet passwords. The atmosphere was very friendly and relaxed. The hotel had a selection of tourist literature and shelves full of books in a range of languages, including some nice coffee-table editions about Lake Iseo.
The hotel’s brochure says it is ‘not recommended for children’ so we’d recommend this for adults seeking a peaceful and comfortable stay, not for young families. It would make a make a lovely destination for a honeymoon or romantic holiday. (Having said that, we did see two families with children during our stay, and the hotel staff were obligingly filling bottles and providing a high-chair). For drivers, the hotel has a small car park. If you’re relying on public transport, the links are pretty good: it’s a five minute walk to Sulzano railway station, bus stops and the boat jetty.
Useful external links
Bergamo Trasporti – Bus timetables