Mussolini stayed here, but he didn't have a room key. Nevertheless, the Grand Hotel à Villa Feltrinelli has become a place where people will pay a pretty penny for a few nights' incarceration in its sumptuous rooms

As homes go, it's fabulous. The villa was built in 1892 for the Feltrinelli family, lumber millionaires and owners of Italy's largest publishing house. Burns spent more than £17m on the renovations, and though you might expect acres of marble, most of the interior detail is carved from wood, reflecting the provenance of the Feltrinelli fortune.

The bosky theme continues outside in the manicured grounds. There is no spa, no tennis court and no golf, just a thin slate-lined swimming pool (don't be surprised if someone proffers chocolates on a silver tray), a croquet lawn and of course the jaw-dropping scenery. Despite the grandeur, it's not intimidating and there are few places I would rather sip an aperitivo at dusk than at a lakeside table.

The location

In one of the most secluded parts of Lake Garda, complete with gliding swans framed by the peaks of the Dolomites. A scenic 10-minute stroll takes you to the village of Gargnano.

The comfort factor

Villa Feltrinelli is about quality, not quantity. The 21 rooms - 13 in the main villa, the rest in houses in the grounds - are spacious with a Ralph Lauren-style homely feel. Seven rooms have frescoes by the Lieti brothers. Beds are clad in luxury Frette sheets, and there is a state-of-the-art music system in each room. Someone will even unpack your bags for you.

The bathroom

Think white marble, shiny chrome and underfloor heating - although the rose petals in the loo might be considered a fraction de trop.

The food and drink

Meals are served in the pergola when it is warm, but guests can eat where and when they like. The restaurant has a chef who did time at El Bulli near Barcelona - whish said to be the world's best restaurant.

The area

Explore the lake aboard La Contessa, the villa's 16m launch, or visit historic towns like Salo (20 minutes away) or Verona (one hour's drive).

The access

Not recommended for children under 16. Wheelchair access is limited although there is a lift. No pets.

The damage

Junior suites from €700 (£500) per night with breakfast until 31 October, when it closes for winter. Re-opens on 13 April.

The address

Via Rimembranza 38-40, Gargnano, Italy (00 39 0365 79 8000; www.villafeltrinelli.com).

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