Lots of positive and negative comments have been posted about Laura and her Hotel Olivedo in Varenna. Here are a few observations regarding a five-night stay there just completed the end of March 2008.
We had room 12, up two long flights of stairs - no elevator. First impression was WOW - by far the largest and well furnished room of any we had during our three weeks in Italy (Rome, Florence, Venice and Lake Como). The bathroom also was very spacious and modern. Then there is the view. Open the windows and the spendor of the Alps awaits you. What a deal for 95 Euros per night (no breakfast and no dinner).
Yes, the bed was very hard and the pillows remind me of 10 pound bags of flour. Your chance of having hot water for a morning shower is between 60 and 70%. Rise early and let the water run a long time helps - ususlly.
Laura does run a tight ship and does everything. In addition to handling reservations, check-ins and outs, she is the primary waiter at the adjoining cafe, and thus is always around to greet you with a chorus of "Ciao" when you return each afternoon. If you do not respond with a Ciao,
she will keep repeating that greeting until you reply in kind.
We did partake of her dinner the night of our arrival. Laura seats guests, takes orders, delivers meals and cleans tables - with no help. She is well-organized and moves at a quick pace. Fortunately being there at off-season, we were not compelled to take dinner. It was a good value (22 Euros)and reasonable quality, but my wife and I can no longer eat that much that late. Dinner begins at 7:30 PM.
Your receipt upon leaving consists of a scribbled note on a small piece of paper.
It would have been nice had she informed her US guests of the change in time to Daylight Savings. Had we not caught a conversation between British guests, we would have missed our departure train the following morning.