Nestled in scenic parkland near the northern section of the sparkling Lago Maggiore, Giardino Ascona is an intimate retreat. The hotel’s 72 rooms and suites are spacious and decorated with chic, modern furnishings set against bright and breezy color schemes. Balconies or terraces offer great views of a water lily-filled pond and the nearby Ticino Mountains. All rooms include conveniences such as minibars, flat-screen TVs, and DVD players. Bathrooms come with Dipiù cosmetics as well as bathrobes and slippers. As gorgeous as the rooms are, you may find yourself outside most of the time, sunning by the pool, getting pampered in the spa, or exploring the olive and lemon trees of the Mediterranean-style garden. There are also two excellent restaurants, one with two Michelin stars, and daily wine degustations.
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Being so close to the Lago Maggiore means water-based activities like swimming, stand-up paddling, and boating are very easy to arrange. The nearby Ticino Mountains are similarly convenient for cycling trips—the hotel has a good selection of city and mountain bikes—as well as hikes. Charming Ascona is small but vibrant with shopping, nightlife, and cultural opportunities; sites like the historic Museo Castello San Materno, which hosts an interesting collection of German art, and the fascinating Monte Verità area, once home to a community of philosophers, painters, spiritualists, and writers, can be reached in 30–40 minutes by foot. If you’re feeling adventurous, the hotel also organizes scenic flights flown by restaurant manager Mauro Pacchioli, who happens to have a pilot’s license. Golfers will be happy to know that the picturesque Golf Club Patriziale Ascona is nearby.
Need to Know
Rooms: 72 rooms and suites. From $435. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out 11 a.m. Dining options: The more casual Aphrodite serves imaginative fusion cuisine such as Norwegian lobster with mango-papaya sauce, though the real high-end creativity happens in the two-Michelin-star Ecco, where the chef offers an ever-changing menu (three to eight courses) with local elements including whitefish caught fresh from the nearby lake. Smoothies, sparkling wine, and cocktails can be enjoyed at the stylish hotel bar or the pool bar, where you can also snack on Italian antipasti and freshly grilled snacks. Spa and gym details: The spa and wellness center incorporates indoor and outdoor pools, saunas, Jacuzzi, and fitness and relaxation areas. The massages and treatments range from a merlot grape-salt bath and Ayurveda rituals to cellulite reduction and skin remodeling, all using Dipiù and Aveda products.
Who it's for: Well-heeled, spa-loving types seeking a comprehensive retreat that’s close to water and mountains. Our favorite rooms: The South-Side and Morning Sun suites are the largest and have the resort’s classic earth-toned decor, parquet flooring, and en-suite bathroom with tub. The suites on the ground floor offer private gardens and terraces where one can soak in the sun or enjoy an alfresco dinner. Explore the area: The hotel offers free bicycles, which you can use to ride along the lake and explore Ascona. If you’d rather spend time on the water, take a ferry to the Brissago Islands, where you’ll find a lush botanical garden.