Grand Hotel Majestic offers perfect harmony in every sense of the word. Whether you’re a hotel guest looking for a full immersion or non-hotel guest looking to get a feel of la dolce vita, there is an experience for you at this magical Lake Maggiore hotel.
The most difficult thing for renovated historic buildings and structures to maintain are their personality and history. It’s incredibly difficult to strike a balance between the past while integrating the modern comforts of the future, but Grand Hotel Majestic is able to execute this effortlessly. What makes the hotel even more distinct is that it offers it’s unique experience to hotel guests and non-hotel guests alike. From dining and activities to spa services and sun loungers on a private beach, Grand Hotel Majestic offers visitors a variety of ways to enjoy the Grand Hotel experience. I immersed myself in the full Grand Hotel Majestic experience–culinary, activities, sleep and all–over the course of a 24-hour period. As my mother parked our convertible Fiat 500 outside the hotel, I looked up at the beautiful white marble Small Luxury Hotels of the World hotel. I stepped inside and viewed the magnificent arches and columns, housing wonderful paintings and sculptures.
History and Location
From my past experience staying at a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property in Paris, I knew that the bar had been set high for what to expect in terms of service and amenities at Grand Hotel Majestic. The hotel is superbly situated next to Pallanza, one of the three towns that make up the municipality of Verbania–voted the most environmentally livable city in Italy by Legambiente. The hotel dates back to the 1870s. It’s golden years were the 1930s, when musicians, artists, and state officials visited the hotel frequently. The hotel was open for almost 150 consecutive years. The owners who oversee the hotel today bought and restored it as closely as possible to it’s original Belle Époque style in 1979. Today, Grand Hotel Majestic still pays homage to its past creative clientele by showcasing a number of different contemporary artists unique work throughout the hotel. So keep your eyes peeled when walking around! You never know whose piece you’ll find inside…
Celebrating 150 Years!
In 2020, Grand Hotel Majestic celebrated 150 years of business. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, festivities were rescheduled for 2021. But that gives us all an excuse to book a stay next summer at Grand Hotel Majestic for this grand festivity, am I right?
A Winter Afternoon in Pallanza, Verbania: Lago Maggiore
We checked in and had our luggage taken to our elegant suite on the first floor. The room was indeed beautiful. It was definitely suite-like in its spaciousness and tasteful and not over done in its Belle Époque style. The walls were creamy yellow and the sun broke through the red velvet curtains. There was a similar velvet fabric on a bottle neck green lounger in the living room area arranged around a low coffee table. The soft, regal red carpet also seemed to be velvet. I tossed my straw hat down on the couch and continued towards the bedroom.
Opposite the sitting area were mirror sliding doors that led to the bedroom. The bedroom had a great big bed, a desk, and comfortable bottle neck green velvet armchairs. As the bellhop left I sank into one of the armchairs and looked up at the ceiling. I admired the details in the brass chandeliers hanging above my head. This elegant style was typical of Lago Maggiore, but very clean and not overdone. It was evident that the upholstery of the armchairs and bed had been chosen subtly to blend perfectly with the color and texture of the carpet and wallpaper, creating a relaxing ambiance.
The bathroom at the end of the Suite contained a bathtub and a separate shower cabin in green marble. They both had every comfort one could think of–including olive oil and natural spring shower amenities to help commence your spiral down into ultimate relaxation. After all, this is what Grand Hotel Majestic is known for aside from its stunning design and architecture–relaxation. We were dripping in palatial glitz. I felt like I had signed up to sleep in the ultimate luxury fairy tale on Lake Maggiore.
Both the living room and bedroom had floor to ceiling windows that opened up to a semi-private balcony. I use the term balcony lightly, it was more like a private patio. I flung open our bedroom windows and stepped outside staring rapturously at the picture-book view of the mountainous sky, with its soft mysterious clouds, the lovely lake beyond, and, in the gardens below, some big green palm trees and shrubs. The faint chitter chatter and laughter from guests sitting on La Terrazza for afternoon coffee carried from below. As I turned back to return to my room, I noticed a bistro table set outside my windows. Perfect for viewing the sunset in peace.
Lobby and Courtyard Area
My mom and I got dressed for the sun lounge area. We stopped by the courtyard before taking the elevator down to the lobby. The lobby of the hotel included a courtyard with high ceilings with a skylight. Enormous arches surrounded every floor looking down into the center lobby. I noticed a reoccurring theme here. There were Asian touches throughout the hotel. From the lights in our room to the art in the elegant skylight courtyard. Perhaps it was a subtle nod to how Japonisme influenced the artists of the Belle Époque.
Bar La Terrazza
We made our way to the front desk to reserve our afternoon SUP experience, one of the many activities offered at Grand Hotel Majestic for both hotel guests and non-guests alike. To the left of the front desk was a row of old wooden telephone booths, an ode to the structures history. The arched entrance continued out towards the lake and brought us to one of my favorite rooms at Grand Hotel Majestic: Bar La Terrazza. The indoor lounge area was packed with red and purple velvet chairs and draping velvet curtains. An alfresco on the ceiling called attention to a cascading brass chandelier.
Aperitivo and Fine Dining on Lake Maggiore at Grand Hotel Majestic
What an entrance. The bar area itself looked like something out of movie from the early 1900s. I closed my eyes and could just imagine women with fancy dresses layered in fur jackets, feather boas, and blankets of pearls, listening to music and grabbing a drink at the swanky bar located in Pallanza. It’s a glimpse of the old Italy you see in movies. The one that sometimes seems to have been forgotten or set aside for a more modern Italy. But Grand Hotel Majestic has kept this authentic idea whole and pristine.
Bar La Terraza continues outdoors, but in a slightly more modern manner. Bistro style tables and chairs are spread out on the balcony. Here they serve a light lunch, aperitivo, or a night cap late into the night. It’s open to both hotel guests and non-hotel guests alike (just remember to make a reservation in advance!). You could gaze over the railing at the gardens below, the lake up ahead, and Isola San Giovanni. My favorite nook had to be the private one located at the end of the Bar La Terrazza. I had to rub my eyes and blink twice to make sure it was real life and not a painting. This secluded little nook comes with a picturesque backdrop of Lake Maggiore’s alpine mountains that give Pallanza an unwordly feel. The moment feels surreal.
Spa & Wellness
We descended the stairs to the ground floor. An expansive garden wrapped around Grand Hotel Majestic. At the center of it all is their indoor pool and spa. The facility has glass walls with 360 degree views of Lake Maggiore and it’s surroundings. Don’t let a rainy day put a damper on your fun. The indoor pool and spa facilities are the perfect way for hotel guests and non-hotel guests to dive head first into a pool of utter relaxation.
How are the spa services?
Unfortunately, we were not able to experience the high-class offerings the spa has to offer, but one can assume that they are as top notch as the rest of Grand Hotel Majestic’s service and experience.
Time to Relax: Sun Loungers and Private Beach
We made our way towards the sun loungers spread out around the hotel’s gardens. We chose two in the shade facing Pallanza. I threw my bag onto the beach lounger and looked out at the lake. One of the waiters, Moussa, brought us beach towels. He waited patiently to take my drink order as I stopped in my tracks and gazed, open-mouthed, at the way the afternoon sun was reflecting on the outstretched water of Lake Maggiore. Lake Maggiore is surrounded by magnificent Alpine mountains. Its shores are covered with evergreens and great big blossoming shrubs, which reflect in the lake, giving the water a glowing emerald color.
I laid down on my sun lounger with the sun beating on my face and closed my eyes. I heard the gentle sound of waves hitting up against the stone walls and shoreline of Grand Hotel Majestic’s private beach. The warm breeze touched up against my skin. Bright sunshine hit my eyelids, making my interior life lighter and my body melt into a state of pure relaxation. I sighed and opened my eyes again. I pulled forward my canopy shade and stared out at the tranquility that is Lake Maggiore marveling at the island shadowing my view of the Borromean Islands.
One of Grand Hotel Majestic’s many perks is its rare position in front of Isola San Giovanni, a small privately owned island of the royal Borromeo family. The island has a small villa and church. This is where the royal wedding between Countess Beatrice Borromeo and Prince Pierre Casiraghi di Monaco took place in 2015.
It was a Saturday and good number of non-hotel guests had reserved beach loungers, both families and couples. But even so, the setting was tranquil and quiet. There was lots of space giving those seeking tranquility the opportunity to get away from it all.
Fun fact about the private beach and dock.
From the late 1800s to mid 1900s boats of sovereign families in Italy, royal families from Germany, and even some Maharajas from India would dock their boats at the hotel mooring.
Grand Hotel Majestic’s Leisure Activities
Discover Lake Maggiore from a Stand Up Paddleboard
If you’re an active person like me, nothing says relax like gliding across the calm mountains of Lake Maggiore on a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). The calm waters of Lake Maggiore ripple around you as the warm sun shines down and you take in a deep breath as you arrive back to your stay at Grand Hotel Majestic. This is one of the many activities available at Grand Hotel Majestic.
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Aperitivo and Dinner at La Beola Restaurant
After a nap, SUPing, and a dip in the lake, we went upstairs to spruce up and change before dinner. We were able to catch the incredible sunset from our Suite’s balcony before heading back downstairs.
Aperitivo and Fine Dining on Lake Maggiore at Grand Hotel Majestic
As we descended we could hear the music coming from Bar La Terrazza. Aperitivo is a must to experience la dolce vita. My mom and I ordered two negronis at Bar La Terrazza and watched as the sunset behind the mountains. Following aperitivo we headed downstairs for dinner at the hotel’s renowned restaurant, Ristorante La Beola. Even the Countess Borromeo and Prince Casiraghi spent an evening dining here! We went with all the Maître D’s recommendations…The highlight of the evening was crema di fagioli con anelli di calamari–creamy bean soup with calamari.
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The Morning After: Breakfast
After a day spent living life like a Countess in what could only be described as an Italian lakeside fairytale, I woke up to the sound of my alarm. I refused to open my eyes, afraid to wake up from what could rationally have only been a dream. The sunsetting over the romantic lake and its mountains, dinner in front of Isola San Giovanni, SUPing by ancient villas…I didn’t want to wake up to reality. As I opened my eyes I found myself in a big bed in Grand Hotel Majestic. Fairytales do come true.
I got dressed and rushed downstairs to the breakfast room, eager to see what they had in store. Breakfast was served indoors in one of their many ballrooms also used for events and weddings. A cappuccino was in order. Due to COVID-19 regulations one of the waiters took us around the buffet tables asking us what we’d like him to take back to our tables for us. I have a sweet tooth as you all know, so I stuck to an assortment of dolci. A mini-plain croissant and chocolate croissant, raisin swirl, and a muffin.
As I took in my last moments at Grand Hotel Majestic I watched the lake and Isola San Giovanni in front of me. I couldn’t help but think at what a fantastic job the owners, staff, and Director of Sales and Marketing for Grand Hotel Majestic, Mariangela, have done at keeping the authenticity of the hotel alive. The XVIII century hotel on Lake Maggiore allows both hotel guests and non-hotel guests the opportunity to submerge themselves in the past and experience a refined, yet more modern lifestyle in which hospitality is at it’s core.
Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Grand Hotel Majestic, a Small Luxury Hotels of the World property. All opinions remain my own and I was in no way influenced by the company.
>> Next: A Guide to My Italian Hometown: Feriolo, Lago Maggiore
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