First Impressions of Hedonistic Hiking

Submitted by HedonisticHiking on 29 Nov 2023

Cathy Samson and her husband Paul took their first Hedonistic Hiking steps in the Italian Lakes in September 2023. In contrast to last month's interview with Chris Bell, who completed his 20th tour in 2023, we caught up with Cathy this month to check out the highs and lows of their trip.

Q. What made you decide to take a Hedonistic Hiking trip?

A. Paul and I are regular hikers and have been on lots of walking holidays, both guided and self-guided. We found out about Hedonistic Hiking from a press article and were very tempted by the idea of great food and wine!

Although I know Italy well, the Italian Lakes is one of the few regions that I’ve never really explored. In fact, I’ve always found it quite difficult to know which lake to go to, plus, of course, there are so many hotels to choose from. So in this case, the idea of having a logistics free holiday was very appealing, with someone else making all the decisions about accommodation, restaurants and hiking routes.


Q. Did you have any concerns before the trip?

A. Having taken guided holidays in the past, I was comfortable with the idea of being with a group, but, having hiked less in recent years, I was a little worried about not being fit enough.

Q. The Italian Lakes is a level 4 tour. Was it what you expected in terms of the distances covered each day and the terrain?

A. I thought that the walking details that Hedonistic Hiking provided before we went were clear and proved to be very accurate. We had a couple of challenging days – but everyone seemed to welcome them. We wanted to do lots of walking, but the garden visits – and the sneaky afternoon by the pool at the end of the trip! – were also very welcome!


Q. And how about the accommodation?

It was clear that there would be a mix of accommodation but all 3 hotels certainly met our expectations. We liked the family-run, traditional feel of the hotel on Lake Como and it was lovely to be by the lake at the other two. Overall, I’d say that they offered better quality than on other hiking holidays I’ve been on.

Q. As you know, we love food and wine as much as hiking! Tell us a little about the gastronomic side of the tour.

We thought the quality of food was absolutely amazing! Breakfasts were filling and there was plenty of choice. We thought the lunchtime picnics were fabulous – lots of great local food and we also loved our post-lunch reading! We also liked the mix of picnics on some days, and simple but delicious lunches in ‘rifugi’ on other days.

Dinners were also excellent, with well-chosen set menus, and I honestly think our dinner at Feel Como was one of the best meals I’ve ever had! The wine throughout the trip was absolutely superb, and I particularly enjoyed learning about where it came from.


Q. Can you give us 3 standout experiences?

Well, that Como dinner was definitely the gastronomic highlight. On a personal level, I also loved swimming in lakes Maggiore and Orta – not part of the itinerary!

I also really enjoyed meeting the other people on the group. It was a mixed group, with people from the UK, the US and Australia, but it felt comfortable from the start and there was always someone interesting to chat to. Jackie and Mick were brilliant at helping the group to gel and socialise so it really felt like being on holiday with a group of friends.

Q. Do you have any advice to anyone who may be considering holidaying with us in the future?

From a walking perspective, it’s obviously important to be sure you can walk to the level you’ve signed up to. From what we could see, aside from the walking, each tour offers different activities so do also check you’re interested in those. And once you’ve booked and packed your bag, be open-minded and embrace it!

Q. Most importantly – will you be holidaying with us in the future?!

Most definitely, yes! We thought it was brilliantly organised, and, given the quality of accommodation, food and wine, great value for money. We think we’ll probably go for a level 5 next to push us a bit more and will enjoy having a local expert to plan it all for us.