Luxury Explorer Review

5-Star Hotel Review

Villa d'Este

Italy

History and beauty merge in lakeside splendour

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Villa d'Este

Location

Cernobbio, on the shores of Lake Como

Travel Information

Milano Malpensa Airport - 1 hour
Milano Linate Airport - 1 hour 30

Top Tips

If you're looking for discreet privacy, the hotel also has 4 stunning private villas for exclude usesiv, with full access to the hotel's amenities

5-Star X-Factors

The lake views are breathtaking

Villa d'Este

We have yet to find a more inspiring location for chic hedonism than Lake Como, and the regal Villa d'Este takes pride of place on these shores. A former 16th century princely residence, this grand 5-star hotel oozes Italian charm with 25 acres of manicured gardens and luxurious rooms draped in the finest silks and furnished with antiques.

Villa d'Este occupies a prime position outside Cernobbio, not far from Como, and commands unequalled views of the lake. This is a grand and elegant Italian 5-star hotel with a noble tradition, having opened in 1873. but originally built in the 16th century and previously owned by Caroline of Brunswick, later wife of George IV of England.

Its imposing architecture features two principle buildings, the main Cardinal's 'palace', and the Queen's Pavilion, added in the 19th century. A huge terrazza extends across the front of the main building, with stunning views of the lake. Towards the Queen's building is the hotel's iconic floating swimming pool, and beyond is a harbour for the hotel's and visitor's boats.

Palatial Elegance

Inside, the elegant interiors are traditionally furnished with acres of marble, antiques, oil paintings and gilded mirrors, with a grand sweeping staircase and a cornucopia of classical sculptures along its grand hallways. The sense of regal calm is also conveyed by the experienced staff, many of whom have worked here for decades and welcome returning guests with old school warmth.

Rooms, suites and private villas

While the gardens are formal and gorgeous, we would always recommend a lake-view room or suite. Views are why you come to Lake Como, so you would regret missing out. Rooms are in the grand Italian tradition, as you would expect, with antiques, oils and rare velvets and silks and when you open your heavy brocade curtains in the morning, the views, with light dancing off the lake, are spectacular, especially if you can step out onto your private terrace or balcony.

Villa d'Este also offers four private villas in its gardens for exclusive use. Villa Cima is a favourite of ours, partly because of its magnificent position on the lake's shore, but also because of its charming architecture and history. Villa Cima offers exquisite accomodation in 4 bedrooms with its own private terrace on the lakeside. Villa Malakoff has 4 bedrooms on three floors with lovely views of the lake and Villa Garrovo, completely renovated in 2015, is located within the park, just a few steps from the Cardinal's Building, offers 6 bedrooms for larger parties. The most recently restored villa is the intimate one-bedroom Mosaic House, situated in a spectacular position in the gardens, with its own private courtyard. All villas benefit from the hotel's 5-star service and access to all facilities.

Bars and Restaurants

There are three bars; one on the gorgeous terrace under chestnut trees, one by the pool and Bar Canova, inside, where music is played most evenings.

Dining choices are between Il Platano, where simple, classic Italian cuisine can be enjoyed inside or on the beautiful terrazza; The Grill, again inside or in the gardens under 100 year-old plane trees, and the more formal haute cuisine Veranda, which overlooks the lake. Here the glazed windows magically disappear when the weather is warm to provide lake-side al fresco dining accompanied by the finest Italian wines. Breakfast and lunch on the terrazza are experiences you will get addicted to and there is also a Sundeck pool bar where light lunches and snacks are served.

When you have eaten your fill

With a decadent array of wellness rituals at the Beauty Center spa as well as a full fitness center and range of outdoor sports and activities to enjoy, Villa d'Este knows how to entertain. The heated floating pool, with its own jacuzzi, is a must, but there is also an indoor pool and a kids' pool in the Sporting Club, where you will also find tennis, squash and the Villa d'Este Golf Club. Running along the lakeside jogging path is popular with guests, as are the many watersports, including waterskiing, canoeing and sailing. Hop aboard a sailboat at sunset and cruise Lake Como, or take a private launch to one of the lake's many charming towns. We cannot think of a better way to toast the very best of Italy.

We will be re-visiting Villa d'Este when it re-opens in March this year and will follow with a full updated review.