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Where to Stay in Lake Como

You know, there’s technically a month of summer left. Most people blew their entire vacation wad in July, but you, you took your time. Now you’re sitting pretty, ready to peace out for the next few weeks. We have a place for that. Welcome to Lake Como, otherwise known as your end-of-summer retreat. This is where to stay in Lake Como.


Grand Hotel Tremezzo

When you think of Lake Como, this hotel is what you picture. In few places, will you find a hotel as grand as the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Some would call it perfection.  This is the one place to spend $4K a night on your room, and it will be money well-spent.   The in-lake floating infinity pool, stunning suites that are pure perfection and the Italian family hospitality are just a few of the reasons, you’ll stay.  And you’ll be back.

The hotel is a landmark and was once the favorite destination and movie set for Greta Garbo, Albert Hitchcock and Frank Sinatra. Today, the hotel is not only a destination but truly a cultural heritage experience. Since the ’30s, it has been independently owned, and it pays homage to classic Italian style. Stunning terraces and sitting rooms with large windows bask in the sunlight and offer unparalleled views of the Alps.

This is Italy at it’s finest. Everything from the food to the decor to the music is high classical Italian and more spectacular than anywhere else. You don’t come here to leave all days for the surrounding area. You come to be part of the masterpiece that is the hotel. Here, you’re likely to lounge next to Donatella Versace by the pool or share a drink with Natalie Portman on the terrace.

Even though the hotel was first built in 1910, it closes every winter for renovations.  The grounds and buildings stay in tip-top of shape. It’s a reason itself to come to Lake Como.

Villa d’Este

What’s that whirring sound you hear every few minutes? Just the new guests helicoptering in. Because, how else would you arrive at Villa d’Este? The hottest destination in Lake Como for more than 100 years demands a grand entrance. And rightfully so. Considered one of the most beautiful architectural works of the 16th century, Villa d’Este is a breathtaking display of ornate French and Italian design. Not only do the building and works of art look like they belong in a museum, but so do the surrounding centennial gardens. Even if you don’t stay here, the hotel is a must just for a visit.  Just ask Emily Blunt and John Krasinski, who wed here 10+ years ago.

And once you finish your stroll through the grounds, you have to stop for dinner at La Veranda. You’ll never have risotto like you do here. And after your meal, you’ll be dancing all night to the piano playing. And of course, the rooms are amply sized, with the intricate details and simple amenities.  You’ll feel like you’re frozen in time. Which is a welcome feeling these days.

Mandarin Oriental

Though it’s the newcomer among the luxury hotels on the lake — built right before the pandemic.  However, Mandarin Oriental doesn’t have to prove itself at all. The renovation of the former Casta Diva resort has none of the dark interiors the previous hotel had. Instead, impeccable beige furnishings that capture the location’s beautiful light create an ambiance worthy of the hotel group’s name. And yet, despite two different management teams, the hotel still retains the character of the building.  There are the period architectural flourishes, such as coffered ceilings and inlaid wood floors, of course. The effect is a new hotel that looks like it’s been there for decades.

In terms of class and elegance, the Mandarin Oriental is the only hotel that might give Tremezzo a run for its money. Maybe. And yet, the signature blend of Italian and multiple Asian influences creates an entirely unique vibe that the portfolio does so well. The Sala Mandarin is like a living room from the early 18th century, where a traveler could display gifts brought back from trips to Japan and China. And while tokens of distant cultures have always been prize possessions, guests can really know and appreciate them today.

And experiences across each of the 73 rooms, suites, villas and common spaces differ. A dark leather, “clubby” bar brings nightlife, while the highly esteemed Mandarin Oriental Spa has enough luxurious treatments to keep you relaxed for the rest of your life. A floating pool and decadent restaurant also ensure you don’t have to leave the grounds if you don’t want to. So kick back and relax.

Il Sereno

We can’t imagine why you’d be sick of staying in the historic converted palaces on Lake Como. But perhaps floor-to-ceiling windows will sway you. A testament to the area’s rich historical luxury, most hotels on Lake Como have regal displays of high classical ornamentation that draw people time and again. But they are bound by the architectural choices made generations ago. Meet Il Sereno, an entirely new, modernist building designed by architect Patricia Urquiola that looks nothing like the other villas. The building, made of wood, concrete and a whole lot of glass, looks transplanted from Helsinki or Dubai. Just 40 suites are stacked on top of one another in four floors. All boast incredible lake views and sleek furnishings that don’t attempt to take away from the natural surroundings.

Swimmers will be floored by an exclusive infinity pool that is suspended over the lake. Boaters, even first-timers, can hit the chop in one of the hotel’s rentable motorboats, which hit top speeds and don’t require a license.

The bar and restaurants are also musts. Executive Chef Raffaele Lenzi reimagines classics and creates new dishes in nine-course tasting menus. Classici and Contrasti feature dishes for the omnivores, while Vegetali, Tuberi e Radici show what vegetables are made of. All are, of course, paired perfectly with wines from the well-stocked cellar.

Il Sereno is an experience from start to finish. If you’re worried about missing some of the more historical elements of Lake Como, don’t be. The hotel is less than five minutes from the village, Torno. Cobblestone streets and old churches, bars and restaurants are there to show guests what the culture of Lake Como was made from.  If you’re looking for a way to visit Lake Como that meets your modern aesthetic taste, Il Sereno is it.

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