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Hotel Olivedo, Varenna Feedback

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.

Posted by
3580 posts

I've stayed at Olivedo twice: once on a RS tour in 2001, and once as a single woman several years ago. Both experiences were good. I didn't mind the stairs or the shared bath. My single room when I was on my own was under the roof and had a porthole-type window overlooking the harbor. My room was small, clean, and perfect for my needs. A full breakfast (not a fry-up) was included and I felt the rate was very reasonable for the accommodations. It can be difficult to get reservations, since the place is so popular. I found Laura to be warm and efficient.

Posted by
2023 posts

Your comments on Olivedo are interesting. We stayed there two years ago for three nights. We had no problem with hot water but the mattresses are just not acceptable and the bed linens are way past their prime. The hotel interior needs a redo. We found Laura to be rather unaccomodating. She scolded us for not being able to find the bank/ATM per her directions--appeared very annoyed! It was early April and chilly and I requested an extra blanket and Laura told me I did not need one--very weird. She appeared to have help with the meals which were not bad but we regretted eating there for three nights. The view was very nice but it was too noisy for us. Breakfast was meager at best. Next time in Varenna we will stay at Eremo Gaudio. We loved the town.

Posted by
166 posts

I might have added another comment or two.

We were given the most interesting "towels" I have yet experienced. The looked excatly like linen tablecloths, so not much absorbance there.

Laura was accommodating, particularly after the maid forgot one morning to clean our room (no big deal), it happens.


Posted by
32244 posts

I stayed at Albergo Olivedo in September 2006 and have no complaints, either with the facilities or with Laura (she seems very efficient and certainly very hard working). My single room wasn't luxurious, but in keeping with Rick's philosophy it was "clean, safe and affordable", and I didn't really mind using the bathroom down the hall or the shower on the next floor below. The bed was reasonably comfortable.

My room was at the front, so the PA announcements from the Ferry Dock were a good "alarm clock" in the morning, but I didn't consider this to be a major problem.

One of the most memorable aspects of my stay were the dinners! I can't recall what type of Pasta was served, but it was excellent! Breakfasts were also good. Everything seemed to be very efficiently organized.

I can't recall if I was provided with the "tea towels" at Olivedo? I've encountered these in several other locations in Italy, so these are not exclusive to just this Hotel.

I hope to stay there again.

Posted by
32244 posts

One other point to mention was that my room was on the fourth floor, and of course there's no Elevator. Again, I didn't perceive this to be a major problem, especially as I knew (from the Guidebook) that I'd have to haul my Backpack up to the room on my own.

Some of the other guests were utilizing one of Laura's staff to haul their suitcases up and down the stairs, but I prefer to pack my own luggage (if I can't lift it, I should have packed lighter!).


Posted by
61 posts

Ken - I am not sure if this is the pasta you are refering to, but Laura makes incredible ravioli. I have yet to taste another like it.

Posted by
32244 posts


YES, I think that's what it was. There wasn't much on the plate, but every bite was fantastic!

Thanks for the reminder (note to self - schedule return visit to Varenna!).


Posted by
4 posts

I have stayed at this hotel twice; in late August of 2011 and in early October of 2008. The weather was much better in the fall! Last summer it was very hot (in the high 90s) and humid. I spent each day on the ferry, enjoying a cool breeze off the lake! My hotel room was a tiny attic room at the top of a very long flight of several stairs, no elevator, with a bathroom down the hall and shower one floor below. I did not mind this at all, but if I were much older I might pay for a bigger bedroom with a private bath a couple of floors down. My bed was comfortable enough and although the room was very small, it suited me just fine. Breakfast was hearty and delicious, and came with yummy cappuccino or tea. I also had Earl Grey tea each afternoon. I ate several dinners at the hotel, including lake fish and ravioli. Every meal was delicious, I loved the food. Laura was always very kind and helpful, never a problem. My bath towels were normal, if a bit thin. I had plenty of blankets but would have appreciated a fan in my room last summer when it was so hot and humid, even at night. I really enjoyed staying at Hotel Olivedo and hope to visit again.

Posted by
1018 posts

We stayed at Hotel Olevido this past August and were pleased with the accommodation. Laura, the owner, takes a bit of work to get along with. She is not the most gracious hostess even though I speak fairly fluent Italian. Her employees, on the other hand, were great. We stayed in room 12 up 2 flights of stairs. Laura had her porter take my wife's suitcase up to the room and boldly announced that I could take my own suitcase. We did not purchase the meal plan other than breakfast, which was served outside under the awning overlooking the lake. The breakfast was typical but generous. We liked the room and the location. The first night we were there there was a concert in the adjacent park and we listened to the music in our room until we fell asleep. Opposite the hotel on the lakefront are benches, which we sat on every night watching the sun set while eating gelato. The breeze from the lake was terrific and the lights from the towns across the lake were neat to watch. Overall, we would stay there again. maybe Laura will take an Italian version of the Dale Carnegie course on how to make friends and get along with others. Buon viaggio,

Posted by
7 posts

We have stayed twice with Laura at Hotel Olivedo in Varenna. My name is also Laura and she and I have the exact same birthday which she realized upon seeing my passport and which softened her disposition towards us. The elegant room and spectacular views made it worth putting up with the hard mattress. My husband loved the fresh trout and I loved the pumpkin raviolis we were served for dinner. I love the fancy linens. We found the breakfast adequate. A family who was staying there left the same time we did and got on the same train. Here comes Laura, out of breath, having run all the way up the hill to stop the train to give the family their child's glasses that were left behind in their room. What a gal! We would stay there again! We enjoy Varenna and taking the ferry to Bellaggio to walk around.

Posted by
277 posts

We have stayed at hotel Oliveda, and enjoyed ourselves very much. I really think though that hotels/agriturismos, and other accommodations are very subjective. What is fine to me, might be appalling to others, well, maybe not that drastic, but you know what I mean. Laura is a hard worker, provides a very nice place, with EXCEPTIONAL views, and very good food(the ravioli is top notch). She is not a talker, but that's OK too. I will say, that late one night, as the wife and I were enjoying the water after dark, her other half came roaring down the road, in the truck he drives for a living, and I must say, emotions were not a problem that night. We had a glass of wine with them, and enjoyed a wonderful evening. Remember, you are really there to experience the people. The sights are kind of an added bonus. A Presto,