Hotel Alpino, Malcesine (Lake Garda): Review

From the archives: my review of this convenient hotel in Malcesine close to the shore of Lake Garda

About Hotel Alpino

Hotel Alpino is a traditional two-star hotel in the centre of Malcesine, just a few seconds’ walk from the shore of Lake Garda. It faces over a street and car park towards Monte Baldo, the lofty mountain behind town. Some room balconies also have sideways views of the harbour, down little lanes from the hotel. Rooms all have ensuite bathrooms, and the hotel’s prices are surprisingly cheap.

I stayed at the Hotel Alpino for three nights in June 2008, having booked online at short notice for two excellent-value rooms.

> Check availability and prices at the Hotel Alpino

Location and arrival

The hotel was easy to find from the bus stop (I came via Verona). To reach the hotel you simply walk downhill from the main road, taking Corso Garibaldi, which is almost opposite the bus stop. The hotel is visible almost at once, across the car park and around the left-hand bend in the road. It has a large pizzeria-restaurant with tables on a terrace outside; the main hotel entrance is a few yards further on. Malcesine has a small historic centre and the hotel is ideally-placed for exploring: a lane beside the hotel will bring you to the harbour in just a few seconds. Just a few yards along the street you’ll find one of the town’s nicest little squares, where you can relax outdoors with an evening drink and watch the passeggiata.

Although the location is directly opposite a car park, it wasn’t a very big car park and the situation wasn’t as unprepossessing as the description might imply. There were sounds from vehicles, from passers-by and from the restaurant but I didn’t find them loud enough to disturb me. Sitting on my balcony one evening I was quite entertained by drifting music from a keyboardist singing standards outside a nearby bar. The worst noise came in the early morning with the sounds of street-cleaning, followed by the 8am church bells. Overall I didn’t think the setting was too noisy, though, given that I had chosen a hotel in the centre of town.

The hotel is run by a hard-working couple who were very friendly and helpful. Check-in was easy and quick – the only problem I found during my stay was that since all the staff multi-task, it could be a bit of a wait before anyone heard the reception bell and came running. All the staff were pleasant and cheery. On check-out they were happy to look after luggage, and to lock my computer away safely until I returned.


My single room at the Hotel Alpino

My first-floor single room was a very generous one. It had a double bed but according to the official designation inside the door, it was definitely a single room. There wasn’t a great deal of space around the bed, but it was fine for one person, and having a double bed was very comfortable. Staying in single rooms, the solo traveller gets used to being fobbed off with tiny spaces at the tops of stairs or back corners, squeezed in wherever possible. But at the Alpino I even had what must have been one of the best balconies. Stepping out of the French window at the side of the building, I found my little balcony actually extended around the corner to the front of the building. I had two tables and chairs outside, one against each wall, so I could choose which view to admire: the street, bars to one side, car park, church and Monte Baldo high above, or the side views reaching from the mountain down to the harbour, which I could see through a gap in the buildings.

During my stay I also visited a double room on the second floor. This had lots more space in both the bedroom and bathroom. The balcony was smaller, and at the side of the building, with sideways views of the mountain and the harbour (between buildings) and a view over rooftops to the lake.

My room was simple but well-thought out, with every necessary feature. The decor was plain, with pale painted walls ornamented with a couple of pictures, thin white curtains and metal roll-down blinds outside the bedroom and bathroom windows. I had a full-length mirror, a wardrobe with loads of hangers and a couple of drawers, a suitcase stand, a small desk with a TV sitting on top (BBC and CNN in English) and a bedside cupboard. There was an oscillating pedestal fan for hot weather, and a radiator for cold.

My ensuite bathroom was small and the plumbing wasn’t great – the toilet flushed rather wildly and caused little floods, the shower door was loose and the water temperature not totally stable. However everything was clean and practical, with thorough cleaning and fresh towels every day. I appreciated the little bathroom storage unit, stool and hairdrier which were squeezed under the sink. There were hooks in the bathroom and also inside the bedroom door; a useful feature which many hotels overlook. There were minimal free toiletries (shower cap, soap, shower gel sachet).

The hotel’s biggest drawback – and it was a big drawback in a June heatwave – was the lack of air-conditioning. I was prepared for this, and the cheap prices reflect it, but although open windows and a fan do help, the rooms did get uncomfortably warm – especially since to keep the sun out, I had to roll down a thick metal blind. If you are travelling at a hot time of year (June-August), do consider this potential issue. More and more budget hotels in Italy are installing air-conditioning, so perhaps the Alpino will follow suit – a quick check of their webpages should inform travellers of any change.


The pizzeria-restaurant below is obviously a big part of the business in its own right. It did a roaring trade every night of my stay, showing European Championship football on a big TV (most of the town’s other hostelries did the same). The menu was fairly standard and reasonably cheap. The food was basic, decent and filling, with pizzas proving the strongest point. Eating here is convenient (especially with a discount as hotel guests) but I only did so once, and I’d encourage other guests to explore the other restaurants of Malcesine too.

The hotel does sometimes offer half-board options (particularly to tour groups), but the menu is restricted for half-board guests, and they are expected to eat quite early and in fixed places at indoors tables. As usual in Italy, I’d recommend sticking to bed and breakfast when you make your booking and sampling a variety of restaurants during your holiday.


Breakfast was again fairly simple and standard for a budget hotel. It was a buffet with croissants, rolls, cereal, yoghurt, tinned fruit, cold meat and cheese slices, fruit drinks and DIY tea and coffee.

A good place to stay?

If you are wanting a really comfortable lazy stay with a swimming pool, then obviously this two-star option won’t suit you. But for travellers on a budget who want a central location, the Hotel Alpino is really good value for money. It proved a good choice for a single traveller, and for a sightseeing holiday during which I was out and about, it was in an ideal location.

> Make a booking / check availability at the Hotel Alpino
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