Lago di Garda, Italy’s biggest lake has always shimmered brightly, luring classic Roman poets, Italian aristos and Hollywood elite for time immemorial. Perched on its lakeside is an original 1930s white villa, now cleverly reimagined for the nomads of the modernist style.
With the feel of a hip in-the-know club for lido-lovers, Aqva Boutique Hotel’s modular alabaster-white building is fronted by a turquoise pool surrounded by sleek decking. Like a pointing finger, a private pier juts out onto the lake. It’s part Miami luxe, part Slim Aarons lifestyle.
Simplistic, geometric and contemporary, Aqva with its iconic pilotis is in sharp contrast to the ornate palazzos and the Medieval spa town of Sirmione with its walled harbour and hallmarks of the Habsburg Empire.
With just 18 rooms, the vibe is intimate and minimalist - chill in pared-back interiors with designer lighting where clean lines are demarcated by Travertino marble, square windows and natural wood. Wander white-walled corridors which come adorned with the work of skilled local artists.
Lay by the pool and watch the colour pop of your Aperol spritz against the azure Garda waters. Gaze at the distant Dolomites before leaping into the lake. If activity strikes, hop on one of the hotel’s bikes for a ride to Sirmione or hire a boat to pootle around the isola’s and shoreline of exquisite Lake Garda.
Aqva’s owners are a thoughtful pair, who’ve considered the guest in everything they do. From creating an adults-only haven to the simple and stylish interiors, there is an achingly cool calm that comes from their wise choices. Like the designer seating scattered around the exterior, there are many spots to sit back, take sundowner o’clock and sample a glass of local Lugana wine which comes with slivers of local ham.
This is villa life chilled on the lakeside where Monsieur Corbusier would not look out of place, and the go-to bolthole for those of you who appreciate the aesthetic of sleek 1930s Internationalism in all of its spatial play alla moderno.
Aqva Boutique Hotel has just 18 rooms, which continue the theme of considered, elegant design. Simplicity and comfort are driving factors with bright white walls, wooden floors, large floor-to-ceiling windows that not only frame serene lake views but let light land in patterns on the floor.
A monochromatic colour scheme sits alongside its modern décor creating a nest of sheer Zen. Moulded Danish-style furniture, a modern geometric four poster bed in dark-stained wood, mid-century lamps in black, and white linen bedding scattered with striped black and white cushions stays true to the minimalist design manifesto.
Each room has its own slightly differing personality. Rooms on the first and second floor have terraces and balconies which are best for those that crave proximity to the life-affirming views of Lake Garda. All come with sleek bathrooms dotted with organic cosmetics.
Let your lakeside location lull you to tranquillity but don’t miss breakfast. Laid out on a huge smorgasbord table around which pot plants breathe and grow, you’ll find a beautifully presented selection of local treats. Catering for all needs, almond, rice and soya milk greet you in glass bottles. Tiny dishes present fresh, chopped seasonal fruit. Fresh figs wind around slate dishes of feathery slices of speck ham. Tiered stands showcase mini pastries, warm and tempting. Cheeses live under glass bell jars. It’s as beautiful as it is delicious.
Lunch, taken under a shaded umbrella facing the lake, can be fresh salads of tomato and burrata, prosciutto and salami and plus international cuisine reach from neighbouring countries including homemade hummus and gazpacho.
At sunset, choose a botanic gin, go classic with Aperol spritz, or taste crisp local Lugana wines. Feel the heat seep out of the day and ponder evening plans. As Aqva does not serve dinner, take advice from the owners – their epicurean recommendations are spot - on for Lake Garda and even reach as far as Verona and Mantova.
Owned and designed by an architect with an obsession for the details and a software developer, Massimiliano Guidetti & Federica Mometto have created a small commune, made with love, that brings together like-minded individuals to their small and welcoming abode.
“What we wanted to do is renovate an old building and re-discover the spirit of the first 1930 guest house. In the process, we like to imagine this place like a raw precious stone and our task is to cut it in the best way to make it as lucent as possible.”
Aqva Boutique Hotel is located at the southern end of Lake Garda, surrounded by three distinct regions of Lombardy, Trentino Alto-Adige and Veneto with views that stretch to the Dolomites.
The freshwater lake of Garda reveals many treasures around its pretty shoreline. The thermal spa town of Sirmione has Medieval castle Rocca Scaligera to explore with its unique moat.
Further north of Lake Garda is the hillside writers retreat of famous Italian poet Gabriele D’Annunzio – a stunning setting of landscaped gardens, architecture and lake panoramas. The lake is also lovely for swimming or boat-tripping to Manerba, Isola del Garda and Punta San Vigilio.
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