Last month, I enjoyed an incredible holiday in Italy, my first trip since the coronavirus pandemic outbreak. You can read my hotel reviews here:
- Review: Bellevue Hotel & Spa, Aosta Valley (today)
- Review: Il Sereno, Lake Como
- Review: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como
- Review: Grand Hotel Portovenere, Cinque Terre
- Review: Belmond Hotel Splendido, Portofino
Today (August 20, 2020): Review of Bellevue Hotel & Spa, Aosta Valley (Italian Alps)
Nestled in the heart of the Aosta Valley’s Gran Paradiso National Park, at the crossroads of Italy, France and Switzerland, Bellevue Hotel & Spa stands encircled by pristine nature. With stunning views that will leave you speechless, Cogne is the ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Summer welcomes hikers to unparalleled panoramas of the National Park; while winter is nirvana for cross- country skiers and ice climbers. Amid all the splendor is the Bellevue property. Renowned for its intimate atmosphere, the hotel offers refined gastronomy in restaurants (including a Michelin starred venue), a vast collection of wines, a superb spa, and above all a warm welcome.
Have you ever stayed at Bellevue Hotel & Spa? If so, what was your experience? Leave a comment.
In this review (more info and photos below my Youtube clip & slideshow):
- Pros & things I like
- Cons & things to know
- My verdict
- Tips for future guests & save money
- Best time to visit
- How to get there
PROS & THINGS I LIKE
- The hotel calls the majestic Aosta Valley its home, a mountainous autonomous region in the Alps in northwestern Italy. With a population of about 128,000, it is the smallest and least densely populated region of Italy. Located near the border with France and Switzerland, the Aosta Valley is home to the highest peaks in the Alps: Cervino, Monte Rosa, Gran Paradiso and the king of them all, Mont Blanc, with its 4810 m (15,780 ft) of altitude the tallest mountain in Western Europe and often dubbed ‘the roof of the old Continent’. The valley offers a wealth of natural beauty, with vast meadows, crystal-clear streams and snow-capped peaks.
- In the heart of the Aosta Valley sits Gran Paradiso National Park, which is located right next to the hotel. It is Italy’s oldest national park and was created in 1922 when Savoy King Vittorio Emanuele III donated his legendary hunting reserve to the country in order to protect species that would have otherwise become extinct, such as the ibex, now a major symbol of the park. Named after Gran Paradiso mountain, the park is contiguous with the French Vanoise National Park. Its rugged scenery, spectacular hiking trails, and great wildlife make Gran Paradiso National Park one of Europe’s best destinations for outdoor lovers and cross-country skiers.
- The hotel enjoys a spectacular setting on the outskirts of the picturesque mountain village of Cogne, which is considered the capital of the Gran Paradiso National Park. Against the dramatic backdrop of the national park’s snow-covered mountains, the property overlooks Cogne’s beautiful and vast meadows of Sant’Orso, green and gently waving in summer while a perfect, pure white in winter. Although small, with fewer than 1,500 inhabitants, Cogne attracts visitors from around the world who come to enjoy not only its beautiful location but its variety of sights and things to do (hiking in summer and cross-country skiing in winter).
- Bellevue Hotel & Spa is made up of different buildings: one main mansion houses the bulk of the rooms and facilities, while several other houses are spread over the low-key village of Cogne. They all share a warm design reminiscent of a ski chalet, mixing old-world charm and traditional Alpine decor elements. The public spaces – which include an intimate lobby, cozy lounge, and bar with vaulted ceiling – are homely outfitted with wooden and stone floors, antique furniture, ancient old paintings, grandfather clocks, a 1928 Bechstein piano, and floral drapery framing large windows that perfectly capture the spectacular meadows and snow-capped mountains.
- The main hotel building features 30 rooms and suites, while here are also three additional rooms in an adjoining chalet. During my visit, I was upgraded to the property’s top accommodation, the phenomenal panoramic suite “The Angel’s Nest”, which featured large floor-to-ceiling windows with 180° views on the Sant’Orso meadows and on the Gran Paradiso Glacier. The suite had a spacious living room with water fireplace, heavenly four posted bed, covered terrace, and two en-suite bathrooms. One of these bathrooms was equipped with a bathtub which, thanks to an innovative system, could slide outside whilst surrounded by glass walls.
- One of the hotel’s strongest selling points is the delicious food that is offered at its five restaurants:
- Michelin-starred Le Petit Bellevue, with just six tables, serves both traditional alpine and Mediterranean cuisine. Young and talented Chef Fabio Iacovone leads a team continually on the lookout for new gastronomic sensations.
- Bellevue is the main dining room, overlooking the Meadow of Sant’Orso with walls adorned by 19th century paintings portraying views of Cogne. Cuisine follows the cadence of the season with a daily changing menu and uses the freshest produce cooked to order.
- The Bar à Fromage Restaurant De Montagne is a distinctly alpine restaurant with a fireplace, located across the street from the main building. The venue’s cuisine is deeply rooted in the mountain traditions of Valle d’Aosta, in particular Cogne.
- In the town square there’s a spot where you can savor convivial dishes characteristic of the Western Alps: La Brasserie du Bon Bec that serves dishes that are fun to share, such as mixed grills, fondue etc …
- After a pleasant walk through Valnontey woods you come to hotel’s alpine hut, La Maison à l’Alpage. Once a week, the chefs transfer their skills to these higher ground and serve delicious grilled meat at the foot of Gran Paradiso Peak.
- Another hotel highlight is The “Gran Paradiso Springs”, the property’s excellent and antiquely decorated wellness area, which is spread over two floors, one of them with terrace offering direct access to the beautiful Sant’Orso field. The spa features two swimming pools with different jets (one of them only open to adults), six types of saunas, two Turkish baths, a great saline cave, a whirlpool bath, a frosty space, some multisensory showers, a fitness area and several rest rooms, which are all available free of charge to guests. Spa treatments are offered as well using products from Officina Profumo Farmaceutica Santa Maria Novella (more on that below).
- Like most old mountain hotels, Hotel Bellevue has an enthralling history. It was founded in 1925 by Leone Cesariano Cunéaz, three years after Gran Paradiso National Park was created. Shortly after it opened, Bellevue became a fashionable resort, frequented by Belgian and Italian royalty. Nowadays, the family has arrived to the fourth generation and is represented by the “Maître de Maison” Laura Roullet, graduated at the prestigious École Hôtelière of Lausanne and descendent of the property’s original owners. The hotel’s old-fashioned grandeur, a quality that the family has perfected over four generations, has been continuously updated throughout the years.
- Bellevue Hotel & Spa is a member of Relais & Chateaux, which represents a global collection of individually owned and operated luxury hotels and restaurants. The number of Relais & Chateaux members changes as new members are added and others drop away; the group currently has over 500 members in 60 countries on five continents. The group is known for its strict admission standards. In addition to luxurious facilities, members must have special features distinguishing them from chain hotels. Most of them are historic landmarks such as castles, manor houses, or townhouses in idyllic settings and/or offering exquisite haute cuisine.
- Sustainability is at the core of the hotel’s policy. For example, pure water is piped directly from the Gran Paradiso Glacier and has enabled the complete elimination of bottled mineral water. In addition, a commitment has been made to source only natural, local products. The wellness center draws on ancient herbal remedies, and preparations are made from glacier water and mud, blended with local honey, milk and wine. The center also offers traditional, organic cosmetics, sourced from the Profumo Santa Maria Novella: a 600-year-old Florentine pharmacy that uses ancient recipes to produce modern-day perfumes and skin care products.
CONS & THINGS TO KNOW
- Hotel Bellevue & Spa features a traditional decor, which has a real cosy chalet vibe but may feel dated to some. If you are looking for a hotel with a modern design, you need to stay elsewhere.
- Some of the rooms have wooden floors and are not entirely sound proof, so you may hear your neighbors when they move around or talk.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hotel’s buffet breakfast is replaced by dishes served at your table. While the breakfast was good, it was a bit underwhelming compared to the hotel’s other excelling food offerings. Also, it would have been helpful if a menu (with a selection of breakfast items) would have been provided.
- Location: 10/10
- Design: 8/10
- Pool (within spa): 8/10
- Rooms: 8/10
- Food: 9/10
- Breakfast: 8/10
- Spa: 10/10
- Service: 10/10
- Value for money: 10/10
- Overall experience: very good 8,6/10
TIPS FOR FUTURE GUESTS & SAVE MONEY
- Save money: read here my tips for getting the best deal at a luxury hotel like Bellevue Hotel & Spa (and/or receive many free perks).
- Room tip: I highly recomend to book a room with a private balcony overlooking either Gran Paradiso National Park or the meadows of Sant’ Orso.
- Read my tips for preparing your trip in time.
BEST TIME TO VISIT
The perfect time to visit Cogne depends on the type of activities visitors wish to pursue. The region has some of the best snow conditions in Italy with plenty of opportunities for skiers and snowboarders during the winter. When the snow melts, climbers and hikers will find spectacular vistas covered with mountain flowers and boundless lush mountains.
HOW TO GET THERE
The best way to reach the hotel is by car (a scenic drive in itself). You need to exit the A5 motorway at the toll booth “Aosta Ovest”, by the town of Aymavilles, and follow the directions for Cogne.