Villa del Sogno, an imposing villa in Gardone Riviera, was built in 1904 as the holiday home of an Austrian silk industrialist. It became a hotel in 1938. Like so many of the hotels around Lake Garda, it has an amazing position, above the lake but near enough to feel part of the lakeside scene. It is approached by a long, winding drive and cradled in exotic gardens, where we stumbled upon two little neoclassical temples. An extension added in the 1980s contains some rather ordinary rooms, including the reception (disappointing when you first arrive). But go through to the wood-panelled hall and staircase and you'll find much more character. The huge wooden fireplace and painted ceramic tiles reveal the villa's Austrian heritage, only slightly at odds with the stone arches, Grecian urns, and other neoclassical flourishes.
  Armchairs in cheerful floral prints and a bar at one end make the sitting room especially congenial. There is also a refined restaurant in two rooms, where the parquet floor gleams almost as much as the silver candlesticks. Upstairs, there are several enormous suites, furnished traditionally. Rooms in the new wing are lighter with their own terraces. Prices are steep; reports please.