Is Lake Como the most beautiful place in the world? It could be. And there’s no better destination than the Grand Hotel Tremezzo
There’s nothing original about believing that Lake Como is the most beautiful place in the world. This region has been attracting visitors since Roman times and remains a celebrity magnet; George Clooney, Madonna, Richard Branson and Sylvester Stalone are just some of the international crowd known to have villas here (as any local taxi driver will tell you). It’s easy to see why: the lake is breathtakingly beautiful, its clear waters surrounded by strikingly lush flora, with mountains in the distance and grand Italian villas and dreamy villages sprinkled around the coast.
Our destination is Tremezzina, 90 minutes’ drive from Milan and we’re feeling the part in our rented Fiat Cincquecento. There’s one road that runs around the lake and it’s a narrow and windy one, best suited to a small and nimble car. It’s only April and the traffic is already hotting up – because the only problem with Lake Como is that its beauty attracts a lot of visitors. So we’re at a definite advantage, season-wise, though it’s also not quite warm enough to swim in the lake. We pass through pretty villages with impressive churches and dreamy lake views, struck by the intriguing combination of palm trees and mountains that characterises the area.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo transports you straight into the Belle Epoque glamour, its vast presence looming majestically from an elevated position overlooking the lake. It’s cinematic in scale and strikingly beautiful. Built in 1910, the hotel has always been family-owned and dedicated to elegance and luxury, and routinely features high up on lists of Europe’s top hotels. Open from March to November only, it avoids ever feeling dated by tweaking its interiors during the rest period – so the feeling is contemporary luxury in a traditional setting, and it’s brilliantly done. Every detail is considered, from the genius use of orange (awnings, sun umbrellas, stripes on crockery, leather accessories, even the ribbon on the doorman’s Panama hat – but think sunshine, not easyjet) to the hotel’s own scent that wafts from vast diffusers throughout the building. Imagine yourself in the golden age of travel, staying here before continuing onto the Venice Lido, or to a sanatorium in Switzerland, or alternatively, imagine yourself as an extra in a Wes Anderson film.
Our rooftop suite is magnificent, with a large terrace offering views of the lake as well as the hotel’s beautiful gardens and pool, all of it spectacular. Loungers on the terrace are well-positioned, as is the sunken hot tub. Our suite is stylishly decorated in a grandeur befitting the architecture, but with a contemporary feel. There are green walls and antique cabinets, a comfortable modern sofa and a large gilt-framed mirror on the wall that, we discover to our enormous surprise – and only when coming across an unidentified remote control – is in fact a TV. Bathroom products are all unique to the hotel, with its signature scent, and there’s even a bottle of perfume for you to use during your stay. We smell fantastic all weekend.
The hotel has five restaurants – a lot for somewhere that has fewer than 90 rooms (recent refurbishments have made the rooms bigger, which means fewer actual rooms, but more luxurious ones). La Terrazza pays tribute to the late Gualtiero Marchesi, the pioneering Italian chef credited as being the father of modern Italian cuisine. Our dinner is a feast of lobster, veal with foie gras, seabass and the signature highlight, a risotto with saffron and a large square of gold leaf. This comes with a certificate, because each dish is numbered – we’re 4,350 and 4,351.
Travelling around is easy by ferry from just outside the hotel. Tremezzina is 15 minutes away from Belaggio, known as the Pearl of Lake Como – it’s one of the lake’s prettiest villages and famed for its colourful centre and sillk products, while the stylish town of Menaggio is 15 minutes’ drive to the north, and the city of Como, worth a visit for its impressively ornate cathedral, is 40 minutes away, on the way to Milan. Life doesn’t get much better than a weekend on Lake Como.
Rooms from £657 per night including breakfast + VAT.
Grand Rooftop Suites start from £3,451 per night
including breakfast + VAT.