Clean, safe and centrally located: If these things are of importance to you when booking a budget-friendly hotel, I recommend Hotel Elena in Stresa, Italy. If I return to Stresa in the future, I'll definitely book a room there. It's a quick one-hour train ride from Milan. I stayed in Stresa in mid-September and found the weather absolutely perfect—this after spending three weeks sweating profusely while vacationing in Tuscany. Even Lake Como, which was also on my itinerary prior to my trip to Lake Maggiore, was surprisingly hot and humid for autumn. Not Stresa. Once I returned home to the US, I discovered (via bloggers who live in the region) that Stresa escapes the torrid temperatures Italy is known for in late summer and fall. On my arrival, a rainstorm had just passed through and I was greeted by a rainbow arching over Marconi Square, where Hotel Elena is situated just a two-minutes walk from the lakefront. My room was not beautiful, but it was clean and comfortable with a private bath and wonderful shower. I had asked for a quiet room and was given one with a balcony overlooking a small private square. A single woman traveling alone, I felt safe at all times while in Stresa and at Hotel Elena. Breakfast was included, and small pets are welcome. Best of all: There's an elevator! Restaurants for all budgets (including a terrific pizza joint), shopping, and the allure of Lake Maggiore are all within a few minutes' walk of this hotel, which also offers a bar and gelateria.