The Dolomites have been at the top of my mental Pinterest board for as long as I can remember. The first time that I learned about the Italian alps I remember, saying, that’s in Italy? Those mountains? It’s magical. Every time I tried to tuck the trip into the end of a visit to Milan fashion week or a stopover in Rome, it didn’t work out, because well, getting to the Dolomites isn’t easy. It isn’t a place that you can just pop over to spontaneously. It requires advance planning and you have to be willing to go out of your way, but I promise you, it’s definitely worth the drive.
We started our trip in Venice and decided to drive to the furthest point on our “must see list” first – Lago Di Braies. It was a 3 hour drive but it didn’t take long to realize how scenic the drive would be. As we exited Veneto the scenery started to change into charming villages etched into the rolling hills like something out of a Disney movie. That scenery made the 3 hours fly by and as Laura slept, I took it all in and kept thinking “how beautiful is this, and how lucky am I to be here”.
We arrived at Hotel Pragser Wildsee at nighttime (not recommended) so as we got closer and closer to the hotel we got a bit more confused. There were several parking lots surrounding the hotel because it’s available for hikes and tours even if you aren’t staying on property, but if you have a reservation you can simply press the button, or call the front desk and they will raise the gate so that you can enter and park in the hotels lot. The hotel was clean and had the charm of a country log cabin, or in this case a Swiss chalet. Since the Dolomites are on the boarder of Italy, Austria, Switzerland & Germany, there are many different languages that are spoken. Italian and German seemed to be most popular at this hotel, but all of the staff spoke perfect English and were so friendly and helpful during our stay. After a long travel day you can imagine that Laura & I were craving a hot meal and a warm shower stat, and Hotel Pragser Wildsee didn’t disappoint. A beautiful 3 course meal was included with our room. There was a tasty salad bar, followed by a first course of Spinach Stuffed Ravioli and a giant Lamb Shank for my entree. I would highly recommend a stay at this hotel if you want to wake up to the magic of Lago Di Braises. When I saw the lake the next morning in the daylight I was taken aback. All those years of wanting to get here to see it with my own eyes and wondering if I ever would flooded my brain and a little tear came to my eye. I have never seen a more beautiful place in my 28 years on this earth. Right before I left for Italy my husband and I met a couple at the airport and they asked us both what we did for work. When my husband told them that I was a fashion, beauty and travel blogger they said “what’s the most amazing place you’ve ever been?” I quickly responded “The Maldives, there’s no place in the world more magical” and yet now, I stand corrected. The Dolomites, and Lago Di Braise, unapologetically rushed in to take first place and I’m so happy that it did. This stunning mountain range put a spell on me. As we drove through the windy roads of the Italian alps getting from point A to point B, there was always a new charming town or spectacular view to discover. I never tired of it, thinking “yeah we’ve already seen that”, it just kept evolving and getting more and more beautiful.
Our next stop was Hotel Monchalet perched atop a charming street in the town of Ortisei. Strolling the streets of this charming town reminded me of being on Main Street at Disneyland. The pastel colored buildings and cobbled streets were reminiscent of the fairytale movies that I watched as a child. We popped into boutiques that oozed European chicness and ate gelato before dinner as we took in the charm of Ortisei and the gorgeous mountains around us. After hours of strolling and aching feet we called our hotel and they sent us a driver to pick us up from town. Once we arrived at our hotel our experience shifted dramatically from charming to completely luxurious.
After researching hotels in the Dolomites, Monchalet was touted as one of the most luxurious and I hoped that it would live up to the title. And it didn’t just live up to the title – it far surpassed it. The service was unparalleled and the staff at Monchalet took care of every little detail of our stay as if it was their pleasure. The rooms were the perfect balance of glamorous yet rustic, so that you still felt like you were in a Swiss chalet, but it was a very well appointed one. Laura and I enjoyed our complimentary bottle of Moet & Chandon as we relaxed in the hot tub watching the sun go down.
Afterwards we went down for dinner and after our meal was served we realized that this was no ordinary restaurant. The presentation was carefully thought out and artistic, and every flavor on the plate was the perfect complement to the one beside it. The next morning we slept in late and rushed down just before breakfast ended and boy am I glad that we did. The breakfast at Monchalet is not to be missed. Each guest gets their very own tea tower (like afternoon tea) and on it are an assortment of Italian meats and cheeses, crostinis topped with smoked salmon and a mouthwatering selection of seasonal fresh fruit. I couldn’t believe the spread. In addition to the tower they also offered a few a la carte items that were included like eggs and bacon and elaborately decorated pastries.
Before checking out, Laura and I ducked in to the spa to experience the amazing floating beds and the calming steam room. After that we packed up to get on the road to our next stop. The only thing that I didn’t like about Hotel Monchalet was having to leave. I know this gem of a property is a place that I will come back to some day. This time I won’t let the daring 3 hour drive keep me from this amazing experience.