Lake Como: a name whispered longingly by those who have since returned from trips there. And, judging by the blissed out looks on their faces, we could only assume it to be a land abundant in unicorns and Ryan Goslings. Having never been, we wanted in. Lake Como, a spectacular winding glacial lake with the snow-covered Rhaetian Alps as its dramatic backdrop, is an area of jaw-dropping natural beauty. It has been a popular choice for the well-heeled for hundreds of years and continues to be, with celeb royalty owning villas along its shores and, well, if it’s good enough for Madonna…

Lake Como is so chic, just breathing its air makes you feel more sophisticated. And, let’s face it, half the fun is telling your friends before you even get there:

“You’re going to Italy, that’s wonderful, whereabouts?”

“Oh, you know, Lake Como…” I would say with barely veiled glee.

 And (come closer), we’ll happily let you in on the very best way to experience Lake Como for the first time. 

Grand Hotel Tremezzo: The Lowdown

Situated on the Riviera delle Azalee with views from Bellagio to Punta Balbianello, and framed by the Grigne Mountains, Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s first impression certainly packs a punch. Unlike many of the hotels on the lakeside, which once were home to Italian families, it’s one of the few that was purpose built to be a luxury five star hotel. A twee nostalgic part of me may have been disappointed by this but, having experienced it, its intelligent design may well be what makes this hotel stand out.

With over 100 years of history as Lake Como’s first ever hotel, every inch of its elegant Art Nouveau palazzo has been tailored to create the ultimate in luxury hotel experience; from its lakeside setting overlooking its famous water-on-the-lake floating pool (one of three pools) and the private parkland and forests surrounding it, to 90 of its perfectly proportioned and decadently fashioned bedrooms and suites.  

Grand Hotel Tremezzo: The Rooms

We stayed in the Lake View Prestige Room, freshly refurbished and elegantly designed. With double doors leading to a private balcony looking out onto the spectral blue waters and the mountainous hinterland, the room is drenched in Italian alpine sunshine and exudes romance. The lavish marbled bathroom has a cheeky twist: for the exhibitionist bathers among us, an optional glass wall spans the length of the bath, creating a stage with the bedroom as the stalls. The other rooms at the back of the building have views over the rolling private parkland, so you won’t feel too bad about missing out on the views of the lake. The rooftop suites are the latest addition to the hotel, and come replete with private outdoor jaccuzzis, (and not to mention a casual private butler).

Grand Hotel Tremezzo: The Spa

Featuring an outdoor jacuzzi and sauna with panoramic alpine views, Turkish bath, Mediterranean steam room, an ice fountain and a heated relaxation area decked in opulent onyx stone, it’s no wonder we hardly ventured outside the hotel grounds during our stay. The gym is fully decked out, and you can book into yoga classes which happen regularly. We warmed down in the only way we could: have you ever been in a sauna with panoramic views over a lake? Us neither. It was unlike anything we could imagine – almost an overload of the senses, because you feel yourself encased by luxury and heat while looking out onto nature’s splendour.

The spa’s infinity pool also traces the line of the lake and, with its full length glass walls offering spectacular views across the it, it feels as if the lake and spa are one.  Retreating into a gloaming alcove, the pool also features jet bubbles and hydro-massage for relaxation in a more secluded setting. The pool itself leads outside, under a little archway which you can swim through, into the outdoor jacuzzi flanked by sun loungers. It was genuinely one of the most beautiful spas we’ve ever seen, not to mention the treatments on offer – ranging from your classic ESPA massage to the “Grand Garden Ritual”.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo: The Food

We dined at the L’Escale, the hotel’s more casual dinner option.  In the summer, opt for a table on the veranda – the view is breathtaking. We went hard on the carbs, because you must; the linguine al pomodoro e basilico was simple perfection – intense tomato sauce, aldente pasta, olive oil, basil –  and the ravioli alla pappa al pomodoro with red prawn was divine. The hotel is also surrounded by other low-key trattorias overlooking the lake, so food options are plenty.

If you’re celebrating, book a table at La Terrazza, Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s fine dining restaurant whcih plates up the late celebrated chef Gaulterio Marchesi’s famous saffron risotto with gold leaf. You’ll find the restaurant on the same terrace you’ll eat breakfast on in the mornings, and boy is breakfast a thing of beauty, with every quintessentially Italian thing you could ever wish for: think pistachio cannoli, fresh parmesan and mozzarella, prosciutto… all served against the stunning backdrop that never gets old.

For more information on Grand Hotel Tremezzo, see here