It's no accident that this grand hotel on the shores of Lake Garda feels royal: This place was built in 1888 as a hunting lodge for the Austrian royal family. Before people like Federico Fellini, Shirley Temple, and Gustav Klimt stayed there, it was used for hunting. You're not too far from the snow-capped Dolomites, but the swimming pool with umbrellas and the lush gardens with palms and banana trees might make you think you're somewhere much further south.
During World War II, the property was used as a military hospital before being taken over by the Germans, then the Americans, and then the British. It suffered a lot of damage, but the original beechwood stairs and spruce ceilings show its neoclassical roots. The rest of the decor is now much more modern, with clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and a soothing color palette of creams. The best place to eat is Il Fagiano, which is run by Maurizio Bufi, who was born in Puglia and mixes traditional Italian flavors in dishes like his signature squid with sweetbreads and cashews.