Antonia Peck escapes to Lake Como and stays at the world-famous Villa d’Este….
Your heart will break when it is time for you to leave the Villa d’Este, Cernobbio – such is the rare beauty and stillness of the place. For some, the source of enchantment is the ornate architecture of the villas and gardens, for others it is the serenity of the lake. For female guests, perhaps it is the knowledge that George Clooney roams nearby. Whatever the inspiration, the villa has had a feel for grandeur since it became a hotel in 1873, and I doubt its patrons have changed all that much. Most are glamorous couples or families, all pearls and furs, and Hermes scarves. It’s a subtle celebration of taste at the Villa d’Este. However, the hotel is full of contradictions that reflect the glory of the ordinary and real (welcoming loyal staff, white plastic deck chairs and glossy tailed ducks) to the sublime and ornate (wreathed statues, grand chandeliers, champagne at breakfast and the somewhat shocking price of a caesar salad).
Only an hour away from Milan Malpensa Airport, the hotel is accessible by car, helicopter or private boat. There are many attractions at the hotel, including an 18-hole golf course, an exceptional spa (note the exquisite Venetian plastered walls – and especially brilliant reflexology treatment) and the lakeside swimming pool (the indoor pool is not quite as glam – women have to wear little blue swimming caps that are not flattering!)
However, for many it is the garden and famed mosaic arch that is the most spectacular attraction. Mythological scenes and cleverly irrigated water features make it both unique and romantic. The hotel’s famed chef, Luciano Parolari, can be seen here in the mornings selecting the fresh herbs and flowers from the villa’s garden. If we get the face we deserve in this life then working at the Villa d’Este can be no bad thing, such is the natural charm and enthusiasm of the chef! His cookbook Tales of Risotto, 50 Recipes, And Culinary Adventures from Villa d’ Este will give you a little insight into the gourmet excellence you can expect when dining here.
The 159 rooms in the hotel are decorated with a nod to the 17th century and all are unique. Antique elements, combined with large televisions and comfy sofas make the rooms accommodating and nice to return to. The big Jacuzzi baths and the generous use of marble throughout makes it feel very indulgent.
The blow of our departure was softened by the fact that we were due to take a train to Florence in order to stay at their sister hotel, Villa La Massa. However, Villa d’Este will be difficult to trump and will be missed.
Via Regina, 40
Tel: +39 031 3481
Fax: +39 031 348873