Lake Como’s Hotel Britannia Excelsior has the perfect Italian recipe for family holiday relaxation
PUBLISHED: 20:18 04 July 2017 | UPDATED: 14:23 05 July 2017
Emma Bartholomew visits the Hotel Britannia Excelsior on the banks of Lake Como in Cadenabbia with her family, where they enjoy their most relaxing holiday in years basking in the sun on the lido
I clung on for dear life as my teenage son pushed the speed boat’s lever to full throttle and we hurtled towards Lake Como’s shores and the 18th century villa where filming took place for the James Bond movie Casino Royale.
It felt for a moment as if my family and I were part of Daniel Craig’s spy movie action, as my hair went flying behind in the wind and the boat powered forwards, jumping over the waves.
The boats on Lake Como are a different kettle of fish to those I’ve ever hired out for the hour before, which have tended to be of the leisurely rowing variety.
You can get them from Nautica Service in Varenna, and you just need to show your driving licence to hire out a 40 HP boat for 60 euros an hour.
The only instructions are to stay out of the ferry boat lanes – which basically means don’t get in their way if you see them coming.
It’s a fantastic way to see Lake Como’s dramatic scenery, and you can also check out where ER actor George Clooney’s villa is further down towards Lenno.
The boat trip was the most adrenaline my family and I had all week, on what was overall the most relaxing family holiday we have had in years.
We were staying in the immaculate apartments linked to the Grand Hotel Britannia Excelsior in Cadenabbia.
The resort is cocooned by the lush tree-lined foothills of the Alps on either side of the lake, and boasts a stunning view of Bellagio - reputedly one of the most beautiful towns in the world where the 46km long lake branches into a Y.
There surely can’t be many better vistas to feast your eyes on day-in day-out, as you take your pick which one of the hotel’s two pools to relax on a sun lounger.
And the icing on our cake came with the weather – peaking at a glorious 30 degrees in June.
Refurbished last year the appartments are incredibly spacious, chic and stylish, with a theme of gray tiles running throughout alongside simple white walls, giving an airy feel.
There’s a huge kitchen-diner with red leather sofas, and a high ceiling reaching up to the rafters where a third mezzanine bedroom overlooks the shared space.
Staying in the family apartment you get the best of both worlds.
You have independence and a lot of space, but you are also linked in to what is effectively a mini-resort and round-the-clock dining - meaning you don’t have to lift a finger in the kitchen.
Breakfast is served in the three-star hotel next door, in its grand turn-of-the-century style marble column-lined dining hall.
You then cross the one main road which skirts the whole of the lake’s coastline to reach the pools and sun loungers, and you’re set for the day.
Lunch and dinner are both served at the Lido restaurant where the first slightly warmer pool can be found and where my eight-year-old daughter spent whole days splashing around with her new-found friends.
We were on a “platinum” all-inclusive board, meaning you can dine lunch and evening on an impressive à la carte menu at the Lido restaurant, with delectable choices as you would expect in Lombardy - like bresaola and cheese salads, a raw Italian sausage tartare, squid, mushroom and seafood risottos and homemade pizzas.
The second pool is at what is possibly Europe’s largest floating lido - the result of a seven year legal planning battle for Britannia’s owners Ross and Doriana to get built – and well worth the effort.
I had the impression I was bobbing up and down in the evenings after spending so much time on it, and the gentle floating lulled me to sleep on many an afternoon.
The pool is submerged in the lake, and I spent every afternoon swimming lengths as it’s plenty long enough.
The platinum option also means that you can drink whatever you choose in the hotel’s three bars, one of which can also be found here, along with a third Brazilian barbeque speciality restaurant, the Churrasco grill.
This is an absolute meat feast and you will be served with copious amounts of deliciously marinated chicken, beef, lamb and sword fish until you say no more.
Ross and Doriana and their family are very much involved in the day-to-day running of the hotel.
Their daughter Nicole manages the lido bar and their son Tom can arrange fly fishing for enthusiasts at mountain glaciers, reached by helicopter.
Villa Carlotta and its beautifully designed garden is a 10-minute walk down the road, and history buffs can visit where Mussolini was arrested and subsequently executed not far from Cadenabbia.
The ferry port is right next to the hotel where a day ticket costs 15 euros. Otherwise the hotel runs its own ferry shuttle over to Bellagio three times a day where you can wander around its quaint cobbled car-free streets.
So many people we met told us it was their fourth or fifth time to return to the Hotel Britanniai Exclsior and I can definitely see the draw.
See hotelbritanniacadenabbia.com for more information.
Seven nights platinum all-inclusive in a deluxe room costs £965 per person through Inghams Lakes and Mountains. The price includes Easyjet return flights from Gatwick to Milan Malpensa and transfers.