Travelling with 5

Family holiday in Riva del Garda

Reclined on a sun lounger in the shade of pine trees, surrounded by lush gardens and listening to the sound of trickling water from the fountain in the middle of the pond, interspersed with birdsong and the constant thrum of cicadas, this is how a holiday should be. A few ducks waddle on by, looking for scraps of food that is no doubt plentiful despite the large population of mallards and moorhens across the tranquil lakes in the stunning grounds of this hotel.

This was me, most days, on holiday at the Hotel du Lac in Riva, Lake Garda.

The hotel resides on the busy road leading into the bustling town of Riva, on the northern-most tip of Lake Garda. It doesn’t look much from the roadside – a modern, contemporary building, not really to my taste when you compare it to the colourful renaissance buildings that are so typical of the area. That said, the hotel is immaculate, well-staffed and in an excellent location, just a stone’s throw from the lake itself.

Hotel du Lac front entrance - A Free From Life

We chose the hotel on the basis of its accommodation.

This is usually at the top of the list of criteria when you have a big family. There were six of us, so it was important to find somewhere that would give us enough space and above all else, privacy. The Hotel du Lac offered us three rooms together, two of which were interconnecting. This meant the two teenagers had the benefit of their own room whilst being close by and we had our own space, but could keep an eye on our two younger children.

Our rooms overlooked the gardens to the rear of the hotel. From there, you could hear the gentle sounds of nature, along with the occasional rally coming from the nearby tennis courts and the odd argument among the ducks!

Garden view from hotel du lac family room - A Free From Life

A walk through the gardens took you past the ponds, two swimming pools and a poolside bar/restaurant before reaching the exit gates. Upon carefully stepping out, avoiding oncoming cyclists, you were greeted by the most stunning, breath-taking view looking out across Lake Garda itself and surrounded by mountains.

Outdoor pool at the Hotel du Lac, Lake Garda - A Free From Life

Riva lies just on the edge of the Dolomite mountain region.

This area is popular with rock climbers, mountain bikers and hikers, although we barely moved a muscle during our week’s stay, so it’s not restricted to sporty or active people only!

Riva del Garda lake view - A Free From Life

From the hotel, you can take a slow twenty-five-minute walk into the centre of Riva, where you’ll find charming squares, quirky little side streets, gelaterias, restaurants and shops. The lakeside is heaving all day. There are areas cordoned off for safe bathing, manned by life guards. You can dive from lidos, take out a pedalo-come-slide contraption, canoe or paddle board or for the more adventurous, go sailing or wind surfing. The even more adventurous (or crazy) can jump into the lake from a high point (a bridge) a little further down the road towards the nearby town of Torbole.

Main square of Riva del Garda - A Free From Life

There are excellent cycle paths around the area that run alongside the lake, although they do get busy.

We booked bed and breakfast only at the hotel, as we enjoy eating out and making the most of the wide variety of places to eat. Directly across from our hotel was a mall and an excellent supermarket. There, you could find fresh baked goods, cakes deli, meat and fish, as well as a huge selection of fresh fruit and vegetables and for the gluten and dairy-free contingent among us, lots of products to keep them happily snacked-up.

The area, both within the hotel grounds, and out and about, is exceptionally clean. This, despite there being hundreds of ducks, is nothing short of remarkable!

Mountain backdrop at Riva del Garda - A Free From Life

People like to bring their dogs to the hotel too and there is even a special dog park within the hotel’s grounds. There are recycling bins everywhere. Most places we went to used paper bags and, in the restaurants, they served water in glass bottles, rather than plastic ones.

Riva is a beautiful, charming place that combined with all the fresh mountain air, made for one of the most relaxing holidays we’ve ever had. That, considering we had four children in tow, is something short of remarkable.

We had an amazing week and wouldn’t hesitate to go back.

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