Top 10: The Best Lake Como Hotels

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by The Daily Telegraph, April 1, 2016

The hotels that border Lake Como suit its dignified ambience remarkably well: mostly traditional and family run, a reflection of this romantic, poetic and sunny spot where for centuries aristocratic families, literary figures and celebrities (most famously today George Clooney) have settled in summer. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, ringed by aristocratic villas and their beautiful gardens, as well as pretty villages full of yellow and red houses, Lake Como still retains its flavour of 19th-century elegance, and though one or two do exist, this is not the place for flashy new addresses. The majority of hotels close from November to Easter. Where applicable, low-season prices are quoted; breakfast is included in the price.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Tremezzo

This palace hotel has the advantage of being next to Villa Carlotta, notable for its Canova sculptures and its superb botanic gardens. The disadvantage is that the hotel is divided from its lovely waterside terrace, garden and pool by the road, but it has much else going for it, including bold, attractive, cleverly updated interiors, exceptional rooftop suites and the highest of standards, overseen by the family who have run it for the past 40 years.

Read the full review: Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Tremezzo

Villa d’Este, Cernobbio

Opened in 1873, Villa d’Este is one of Italy’s grand dame hotels, and one that has attracted a glittering list of celebrities, politicians and aristocrats. Built as a summer palace in the 16th century, it became the much loved home of Princess Caroline, estranged wife of the future George IV. Splendid and traditional, with stately gardens towering above, it is notable for its huge waterfront terrace and floating swimming pool, and offers a spa, sports centre and watersports. The old school service, from a raft of long-serving, dedicated staff, is second to none.

Read the full review: Villa d'Este, Cernobbio

Villa Flori, Como

On the outskirts of Como, with its fine cathedral, Villa Flori makes a good choice for those looking for something contemporary yet elegant and sophisticated. Though uncomfortably close to the road, it stands right on the shore, and its smart, light and airy bedrooms, many with balconies overhanging the water, are peaceful. The rooftop Gran Lago suite is spectacular, and the food in Raimondo restaurant matches the classy surroundings. It also has the advantage of being open in winter.

Read the full review: Villa Flori, Como

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio

Grand it most certainly is, in florid 19th century European style, with gilt, trompe l’oeil, Persian carpets, Murano glass-chandeliers and a pair of huge golden candelabra flanking the central staircase. Built as an aristocratic summer home in the loveliest spot in Bellagio, it’s a good choice when the weather is against you, with a covered terrace wrapped around a vast drawing room, two restaurants and a large spa, as well as gardens and pool overlooking the lake.

Read the full review: Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Bellagio

Hotel Olivedo, Varenna

A beautifully kept, traditional albergo that is that rare treasure: a step back in time yet still appealing to today’s guests, with updated bathrooms, quality linens, good bath products and housekeeping second to none. There is also a splendidly old fashioned, ochre-walled restaurant and a tiny bar, but only a rather dark pavement terrace outside. Next door is the equally enchanting Villa Torretta, with further bedrooms, sitting room and small garden. “If you want to be alone” says matriarch Signora Columba with a broad smile, “stay at Villa Torretta. Here at Olivedo, and you are under my thumb.”

Relais Villa Vittoria, Laglio

If you prefer staying in what feels like a private villa, then choose Villa Vittoria, where Daniella and her staff create an intimate and relaxed atmosphere in an old, cleverly updated waterfront house. Decorated in chic, sophisticated Italian style by her interior designer daughter, it has cool, airy bedrooms, some with huge, white-painted original beams, a conservatory restaurant serving excellent food, an expansive drawing room with original chandeliers and grand piano, cosy basement taverna and small, attractive spa, plus garden, small pool and romantic gazebo. A luxury hotel in miniature.

Read the full review:Relais Villa Vittoria, Laglio

Nest on the Lake, Lezzeno

This attractive guesthouse stands right on the water’s edge, with a little beach where you can soak up the sun and make use of complimentary canoes and kayaks. The prettily furnished bedrooms, with wooden floors and balconies, are notably spacious, with heart stopping views across the water to Villa Balbianello. There are also two self-catering apartments. Lezzeno is a quiet spot, where there are several restaurants within walking distance, as well as bus and ferry stops.

Villa Simplicitas, San Fedele d’Intelvi

If you want to avoid the bustle of Lake Como, yet close enough to reach it, then consider this welcoming, utterly unpretentious 19th century villa between Como and Lugano, surrounded by lush meadows and chestnut trees. The much-loved, lived-in house oozes charm and character and is filled with antique furniture and vintage objects, including a magnificent billiard table. The bedrooms and bathrooms are indeed simple, but the home cooked dinners, taken on the terrace in fine weather, are plentiful and good, breakfast is generous and the sense of absolute peace is truly restorative.

Hotel Florence, Bellagio

Of the two long-established mid-price waterfront hotels in Bellagio, known as the Pearl of Lake Como, the Florence is the most agreeable, a handsome 18th century building in prime position. A terrace under arcades, where drinks and snacks are served, provides a welcome entry to the hotel and inside there are whitewashed walls, high vaulted ceilings and beams; to one side, elegant and slightly faded seats cluster around an old stone fireplace. Bedrooms have the same old-fashioned charm, with cherry wood antiques and attractive fabrics.

Hotel du Lac, Varenna

Just below the main Piazza San Giorgio, with useful secure parking for guests nearby, this calm, dignified small hotel, built in 1823, has the advantage of a wide outdoor terrace overlooking the lake and its own jetty below. To one side there is a delightful outdoor restaurant under a vine-covered pergola. The 16 bedrooms are quiet, neat and comfortable and the hotel has a placid, friendly air.

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