By Pamela Jacobs
On my first night in Lake Como, Italy, I dined on a lakeside terrace under twinkling stars, enjoying homemade pasta and fine Italian wine, and playing a spirited round of “speed desserting” with friends who enjoy eating and drinking as much as I do; I thought “I could get used to this.” When we moved into the wine cellar and finished the evening with more wine and cheese, I thought “I wish I were staying here longer.” By my last night, while sitting in the coziest restaurant imaginable, eating meats, cheeses, and fondues to the point of exhaustion, and drinking the best Italian wines I’ve ever had, I thought “I could live here.” Before going to sleep, I had already begun inquiring about apartments.
I was there to experience Lake Como’s best hotel (the site of those aforementioned food and wine extravaganzas), Grand Hotel Tremezzo, and to be one of the first people to sleep in their new rooftop penthouse suites. The suites, as I’d heard from in-the-know travelers, were a magnificent addition to a hotel which many thought couldn’t possibly get any better, and I had to see this for myself. I also had to see if Lake Como, the playground of George Clooney and one of my “bucket list” destinations, was all I’d imagined it to be. Considering after four nights there I was ready to move there permanently, I’d say it was.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo is a stately palace that hugs the shores of Italy’s most famous and gorgeous lake, and stands above its sparkling waters, offering the lake’s finest location, views, and accommodations. It’s heavenly. Built in 1910 and still family-owned, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is that perfect, almost indescribable combination of luxury and comfort, elegance without attitude, and old world charm meeting contemporary appeal, with a touch of whimsy. A grand lobby gives way to an intimate lounge, which leads to a salon filled with colorful couches and period details. Terraces everywhere you look always lead you back to the views of the lake and Bellagio, while a stone-walled wine cellar hides down below, holding a collection of treats for the hardest to please connoisseur.
Gardens overflow with flowers and palm trees, surrounding a pool, appropriately name the Flower Pool, which is a refuge within a respite within an oasis. An indoor pool looks out onto the waters of the lake and offers peaceful meditation, while the piece de resistance, a swimming pool that floats directly on Lake Como and moves ever so slightly with the soft waves below it, is surrounded by the Grigne Mountains and might just be the world’s most fabulous swimming experience.
Five restaurants—from a casual pizza café nestled in the park, to La Terrazza, where the perfection of the food is matched by the views, to T Beach, where you nestle your feet in the sand next to the floating pool and enjoy light but delectable snacks—are perfect examples of why Italy is, in my opinion, the food capital of the world.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo houses 88 rooms and 10 suites, which include the eight brand new rooftop suites. All of the rooms feature breathtaking views, rich fabrics, timeless antiques, and overwhelming beauty. The rooftop penthouse suites are, quite possibly, some of the most special, unique, and simply gorgeous suites in the world, offering an unparalleled way to enjoy Lake Como from indoors. Designed by the talented Vanelli Kramer, they are perfection.
If I had never left the suite, it would have been worth the trip. My rooftop corner suite featured a gigantic terrace with a Jacuzzi, and views of both the lake and the hotel’s gardens, accessible from both the living room and the master bedroom. The Cedarstone marble bathroom, complete with enormous soaking tub and rain shower, had the most unique layout that afforded views of the outdoors and total privacy. Modern technology somehow blended seamlessly into the suite’s tranquility, almost allowing it to be hidden, so as not to disturb my escape from it all.
This most impressive collection of suites, sitting atop Lake Como’s most beautiful palace hotel, includes three rooftop junior suites, three rooftop corner suites, two rooftop front suites, and a rooftop penthouse that combines with the other suites for up to eight bedrooms and extreme privacy. Each features a large terrace with Jacuzzi, stunning views, contemporary furnishings with a touch of classic luxury, and unique layouts. Guests staying in the rooftop suites also are treated to the pampering of a personal butler, who always seemed to know what I needed before I did. This is truly palace living.
While the hotel is worthy of your full attention, you will undoubtedly want to experience Lake Como, one of the most beautiful places in the world, and they encourage you to do so. On my first afternoon, after a one hour drive from Milan and a quick soak in my private Jacuzzi, I enjoyed a lunch on the hotel’s terrace that included risotto with perch fresh from the lake (a classic Lake Como dish), followed by a tour aboard the hotel’s historic Venetian boat, the Ruy, which was recently re-designed by the same genius behind the rooftop suites. Later that evening we sampled dozens of hors d’oeuvres and enjoyed Bellinis in the salon, followed by an impromptu fireworks display over Bellagio while feasting at La Terrazza.
The next morning brought me to the spa, where the De-stress Massage eliminated any final tension that I had brought with me from New York. After lunch (phenomenal pasta with pesto sauce) at the hotel, we ventured to Como, for some fabulous, and of course necessary, shopping. While in Como, we stopped for wine and snacks at one of the most charming, beautiful restaurants I’ve ever seen. Called Pane e Tulipani (or Bread and Tulips), this former flower shop had us oohing and ahhing (and eating and drinking) nonstop. We then headed to one of the area’s most famous restaurants, and George Clooney’s favorite, Il Gatto Nero (The Black Cat) in Cernobbio, where the owner showed us his photo albums filled with pictures of every A-list celebrity to have ever set foot in both Hollywood and Lake Como. The food was spectacular, and my asparagus flan and classic pasta Bolognese left me drooling.
The next day was all about the lake. We again boarded the Ruy, passing by the lakeside villas that literally took our breath away and stopping at Villa Balbianello, an 18th century masterpiece whose last owner was a world explorer. We went for lunch on the lake at Crotto dei Platani, a peaceful and lovely setting whose owner carries out the family legacy, offering up dishes so good you could. After finishing my antipasti of fresh Lavarello (a Lake Como fish) tartare covered in mounds of shaved black truffles and my fresh black pasta with giant prawns and Mediterranean fish, I stole bites of my friends’ dishes: homemade noodles with butter and black truffles, fresh pasta with local cheese, and more. White espresso gelato finished off the feast, and made me come very close to proposing to the restaurant’s owner.
We continued the boat tour, sailing in and out of hidden grottos, past magnificent villas and tiny lakeside villages, and stopping to shamelessly take pictures of George Clooney’s home. The captain, while letting me drive the boat, pointed out the mountains of Switzerland in the distance. We all marveled at how untouched the mountains and landscape were, a result of strict building laws, and then disembarked in Bellagio, a beautiful, cobblestoned town, where we shopped for souvenirs and leather bags, and enjoyed lakeside cocktails.
A truly special trip makes you return to it over and over, and nostalgic for it whenever you’re reminded of its beauty. And a truly special hotel is one that you would return to again and again, and never want anything to change. I plan to go back to Grand Hotel Tremezzo, both in memory and in reality, and if it’s half as good as my first trip there, I will be one very lucky traveler.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Via Provinciale Regina, 8 22019
Tremezzo Province of Como, Italy 0344 42491
+39 0344 42491