Just 50 miles north of Milan, Lake Como has attracted aristocrats, celebrities, and royalty to its shores for hundreds of years. Today movie stars, moguls and fashion designers continue to arrive and have magnificent villas and bask in its glorious beauty. Lake Como is a lake of glacial origin and is one of the deepest lakes in the world. Known for its jaw-dropping beauty, and located at the foot of the Alps, it really does provide some of the most picturesque scenery in the world. The entire perimeter of the lake is studded with charming towns and villas. Before, THE only address of any note to stay at, was the grand dame Villa D’Este. But between you and me the renowned resort-hotel, a former 16th-century villa, has seen better days. It is tired, schmaltzy, and the staff are still beyond snobby. A much better alternative is the newly opened Mandarin Oriental, Lake Como. It is the Mandarin’s first resort in Western Europe and the second property in Italy after Milan. It’s also the only eco-friendly accommodations on the lake.
Originally built in 1799 for opera singer Giuditta Pasta, as villa Roccabruna, and a previous hotel, it has recently undergone an extensive 10-year renovation. Reopened as the Mandarin Oriental in April 2019, the resort is made up of 21 guest rooms, 52 suites and two private villas. But now instead of dark, heavy, theatrical interiors, the property has been transformed into a light, and bright beauty. Upon entering through the unmarked gatehouse in the village of Blevio, and you wind down a steep, long windy driveway over the 6 1/2 acre property until you reach the main entrance. The interiors are a subtle contemporary look, yet keeping Italian traditions and period architecture, coffered ceilings, and inlaid wood and marble floors, along with a few Asian touches to go with the Mandarin Oriental aesthetic. The updated palate is comprised of neutral hues with pops of muted jewel tones, like the turquoise couches in the bar area. The aesthetic is respectful and harmonizing with the natural and historic surroundings. Almost every spacious room has magnificent views of the breathtaking lake and mountain ranges.
The villas are surrounded by greenery, and well kept botanical gardens. The hotel has one of the best positions overlooking the lake, and a floating pool and sun deck, reminiscent of Villa D’Este, complete with a small cocktail bar. Wi-Fi and parking are complimentary.
There are many amenities here that make this five-star property a true resort experience. From swimming, boating, visiting their expansive spa and indoor pool and various saunas, showers and Turkish baths, to hiking, or jogging in the woods with an expert guide. But perhaps the hotel’s most distinctive amenity is its GM, Samuel Porreca. He was the previous GM at JK Roma, who got it voted “Best Hotel in Rome” three years running, as well as the JK Place Capri, voted “Best Hotel on Capri”. A most gracious, and charming gentleman, who knows how to run a hotel, teach his staff impeccable manners and how to serve discerning clientele. Mr. Porreca expertise has helped to make this hotel truly spectacular, he oversees every aspect of the resort and his staff and guests’ experiences – he must have to keep running a log on all his guests! Even kids are treated quite special here, as reported by my grandchildren on their visit recently. Even small perks like adjustable air conditioning in each suite don’t go unnoticed. From the point of our arrival to our departure, everything was seamless, and all our needs were anticipated. The service was thoughtful and consistently professional; we left with real regret.
The resort has two restaurants, a Co.Mo Bistrot, and bar run by the talented Luca, and a Michelin worthy fine dining, modern gourmet Italian restaurant L~Aria, run by executive chef Vincenzo Guarino, which is housed in a separate building on the property. You can dine alfresco or inside, you will still have stunning views in this glass structure. They also serve a lovely breakfast here as well.
The accommodations are luxurious, blending modern comforts with timeless Italian elegance, this intimate and elegant resort is the epitome of refinement.
Opened only three months they have already hosted weddings, celebrities and a visit by a Bill Gates. Who wouldn’t want to stay here? They are taking it up a notch on this iconic lake. It is now THE place to stay on Lake Como.