Northern Italy’s Lake Como is often said to be the most beautiful lake to travel to in the world. This picturesque, Y-shaped lake is surrounded by mountains. Indeed, charming villages and luxury hotels and resorts dot the coastline. During the summer months, well-heeled tourists, royalty, and celebrities travel to the region to enjoy the beautiful weather and amenities of the exclusive getaway. In fact, one notable Hollywood denizen, George Clooney, and his wife Amal, hosted newlyweds, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, this summer for a luxurious vacation at their own Lake Como home.
Lake Como is extensive. And there are many towns and village in which to vacation. However, while many overlook the small town of Como, it is the gem of the region. Charming restaurants and boutiques line the pedestrian-friendly streets. The Silk Museum is an homage to the textile that brought wealth to the region. Furthermore, the funicular railway that runs between Como and Brunate provides unsurpassed views of Lake Como. And the lakeside promenade is a lovely place to simply stroll and enjoy the lake.
An Exclusive Getaway Designed for Royalty
While Lake Como is filled with luxury hotels and resorts, none can compare to the opulence and exclusivity of Villa d’Este. The Cardinal of Como, Tolomeo Gallio, built Villa d’Este in 1568. The native of Cernobbio, a neighborhood within Como, used the villa as his summer residence. However, the Cardinal originally named the residence Villa Garrovo for a stream that flows into Lake Como. Upon his death in 1607, his heirs took ownership of the property. And it remained in the family for nearly two centuries.
Later owners personalized the villa for their needs. One of the more unique additions include fortresses used by a Napoleonic general to stage mock battles. In the early 1800’s, Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales, lived in the villa during her estrangement from the future king of England. It was during this time that the villa received its new moniker: Villa d’Este. To be sure, the princess breathed new life into the property. Also, she added new buildings to the villa. In 1873, Villa d’Este a group of Milanese businessmen purchased the property to create the luxury hotel it is today.
Notably, this exclusive getaway began its 146th season this year. Moreover, the ownership of this luxury hotel is diligent in maintaining the property’s history, structural integrity, and opulence. As such, during every winter season, the villa’s guest quarters are updated or renovated. In addition, the five star property is often the recipient of awards from numerous travel magazines and organizations. Most recently, it received the honor of the Top Luxury Hotel Worldwide.
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Regal Guest Rooms and Suites
As expected, the accommodations at Villa d’Este have a regal bearing. Within the two main buildings on the property, the Cardinal Building and the Queen’s Pavilion, guests can choose from 152 rooms and suites. Yet each of the guest quarters have an entirely unique design and decor. The Cardinal Suite is easily the most impressive. Located on the first floor of the Cardinal Building, this generously-sized and opulently decorated suite has a large terrace that provides one of the best views of the lake at the luxury hotel.
Opulent Guest Villas
In addition to the rooms and suites, Villa d’Este has four stunning villas for guest’s lavish Lake Como vacations. Built in 1815 by Caroline of Brunswick, Princess of Wales, Villa Cima sits on the bank of Lake Como. Balconies and terraces provide many places to gather and enjoy the view. This three floor villa has a living room, dining room, kitchen, and four bedrooms. With 6,996 square feet, this large villa can easily accommodate up to ten guests.
Villa Malakoff takes its name from a fortress near Sevastopol, Ukraine. Also a three-floor villa, Malakoff has a living room with a beautiful lake view, a dining room, and a kitchen with laundry. An elevator provides easy access to the 3,229 square foot villa’s four bedrooms, two of which have private balconies. Eight guests can comfortable stay in Villa Malakoff.
Large parties will enjoy the space at Villa Garrovo. Its name a tribute to the exclusive getaway’s original moniker, this villa is the most popular at the luxury hotel. The spacious 7,535 square feet has six bedrooms and six baths spread over three floors. In addition, this impressive villa has a relaxation area, gym, and a veranda that connects with a secret garden.
However, for an exclusive getaway perfect for an intimate Lake Como vacation, a stay in Mosaic House is a must. While this villa is the smallest in the collection with only 969 square feet, the recently restored building sits within Villa d’Este’s mosaic garden. However, Mosaic House has its own courtyard to provide privacy to its guests. In addition, the villa has one bedroom with an ensuite closet and bath, a lounge, a full kitchen, and a guest bathroom. A private terrace overlooks the fortresses and the lake. A perfect setting for romance, only two guests can stay in this charming villa.
Sumptuous Italian Fare
Villa d’Este has many dining options for guests, their visitors, and community members. The main restaurant, Veranda, is in the Cardinal Building. It is open for all meals and features a menu of refined Italian classics. It is important to note that Veranda has a dress code for dinner. Open for dinner from April through October, Grill features regional specialties that concentrate on local ingredients. Il Platano is open for dinner only from June to September. With a terrace overlooking the lake, this small restaurant has an intimate atmosphere perfect for a romantic evening. All of Villa d’Este’s restaurants benefit from a the luxury hotel’s wine list of more than 500 carefully curated wines.
And for guests looking for a more relaxed meal or just a cocktail, Villa d’Este does not disappoint. For a light lunch, snack, or cocktail, Sundeck, near the floating pool, is the place to be. Canova Bar’s menu features light plates and is an enjoyable venue for afternoon tea. In addition, live piano music adds to the ambiance of this cozy bar. Lastly, Terrazza Bar & d’Este Club is a wonderful place to drink and listen to live music. Weather permitting, during the months of April through October, this club features the music of a variety of ensembles on the Lake Terrace.
Pampering at the Beauty Center
The Beauty Center at Villa d’Este is staffed by highly trained beauticians and physiotherapists. As expected, the Beauty Center has an extensive menu of services including facials, body treatments, modeling treatments, massage, and foot and hand treatments. For a new experience, try the Kneipp path. This specialized hydrotherapy treatment improves circulation and overall metabolism by exposing the feet and legs to an alternating pattern of cold and hot water.
As the grounds of this lakeside, luxury hotel are extensive, there are many opportunities for engaging activities. With Villa d’Este’s Sporting Club, you are sure to find many ways to pass the time. On land, guests can play squash, swim in the indoor pool, work out in the gym, hike the grounds, play tennis, practice putting with electronic golf, or simply lounge in the sauna or jacuzzi. However, if you’d like to enjoy the lake, try your hand at canoeing, windsurfing, sailing, motor boating, or water skiing. Or for an unique experience, take a dip in Villa d’Este’s floating pool. Built in 1966, this intriguing pool was the first of its kind in Lake Como.
Excursions and Adventures
The skilled concierge at Villa d’Este are always ready to help plan activities for your exclusive getaway. To be sure, golfers should try their hand at Villa d’Este Golf Club. Once owned by the luxury hotel, the club is only a short drive away. With tall trees and a rolling landscape, this impressive course mimics the topography of Scotland. And many consider the course to be the most difficult par 69 in Europe. If golf is not your game, cruise Lake Como in a tour boat or take to the skies in a seaplane. Hikers who would like to explore beyond the luxury hotel’s nearly 1 mile of trekking paths can take the funicular to Brunate and hike to Torno. Or the concierge can arrange travel to Lenno to walk the Via Crucis path.
When you travel to the magnificent region of Lake Como, vacation like royalty with a stay at the exclusive getaway of Villa d’Este.