Grand Hotel Tremezzo review: a room with a view (and a half)
Lake Como’s oldest hotel transports guests back to an age of old-school Italian grandeur
If any building can match the grandeur of Lake Como, it is the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. A monument to Belle Epoque indulgence standing majestically on the western shore of the lake opposite the town of Bellagio, the hotel commands visitors’ attention.
It’s an establishment that oozes Italian sophistication: the sort of place Cary Grant would have zoomed up to in his boat and hopped off to meet Grace Kelly for a negroni on the lakeside lido. It’s redolent of vintage grandeur that has preserved a Fifties’ jet-set vibe. It’s an oasis of opulence and indulgence, a magnet for honeymooners and A-listers like George Clooney, a part-time Lake Como resident who really does hop off his motor launch for lunch.
We were entranced from the minute we pulled into the hotel’s entrance, when an army of uniformed valets leapt forward to take control of our bags and whisk our car away to an unseen car park: wisely, no motor vehicles are allowed to spoil the picture-postcard view. The valets’ VIP service even extended to them stepping into the road to stop traffic when we wanted to cross to the hotel’s snazzy lido on the lake.
We got our first proper panoramic eye-full when ascending in the hotel’s glass-panelled elevator from street level to a luxurious reception area. The lake is an omnipresent feature in the hotel, stretching out from one horizon to another, delivering guests a gasp-inducing sight out of nearly every window.
Arriving in reception made us feel we’d come for a stay in the villa of an Italian count. Glamour and grandeur are the watchwords here: plush burgundy sofas, deep gold curtains and swags, marble pillars and gold walls all add up to an eye-popping welcome, ornate and formal but not overdone. And how fresh and new the hotel looks – no threadbare carpets, chipped paint, scuff marks or other signs of wear. It reflects an impressive attention to the smallest details, a symbol of the care lavished on the hotel.
The Tremezzo has 75 rooms and 15 suites, including five hyper-luxe suites that will set you back a few bob. Even for those who can’t afford to impulse-buy a Chopard trinket from the display cabinets in reception, there are affordable rooms in other price brackets, making it the perfect stopover on a luxury European trip.
Our third-floor Lakeview Prestige Room was a joy, tastefully decorated in muted shades of taupe, its centrepiece a gorgeous, buttoned velvet headboard with gold filigree set off by gold-framed pictures of historical scenes. Swag curtains framed the French doors onto our small iron balcony that became our own personal viewing platform for the lake.
The balcony afforded food-for-the-soul views of the water and mountains as well as a perfect spot from which to gaze down on the hotel’s newly revamped lakeside lido. Its rows of orange and white striped umbrellas create a cheery burst of colour next to the azure waters. Sun loungers, a sandy beach, modern bar and a magnificent floating pool out in the lake deliberately recreate the aura of a vintage Italian seaside spot.
The autumn chill made it too cold for a dip, but the sun was still warm enough for us to join the diners feasting al fresco on seafood at the lido’s new restaurant, Giacomo al Lago, a collaboration with the family-run Giacomo Milano restaurant and the lake’s first seaside fish restaurant. Our succulent lobster roll and an unusual dish of tortelli cacio e pepe with raw red prawns and bottarga was a luscious marriage of Italian cuisine and the freshest seafood, enjoyed in the most beautiful of lakeside settings.
The hotel’s signature restaurant is La Terrazza Gualtieri Marchese, a fine-dining establishment inspired by the legendary chef and founder of modern Italian cuisine. I can also highly recommend the hotel’s trattoria and enoteca L’Escale, situated in a renovated wine cellar with a curved ceiling, industrial-chic vibe and warm tartan upholstery. In warm weather it opens out into a terrace for make the most of that view. You won’t get a duff glass of wine here, where the sommelier can help you choose from over 1,300 of the finest Italian labels: we were delighted with our beakers of Brunello, the perfect accompaniment to my silky spaghetti carbonara and my partner’s heavenly beef filet with au gratin Parmesan and balsamic vinegar sauce.
It was an exceptional dining experience, yet in serious danger of having its thunder stolen by breakfast at the hotel. It’s an event to tempt you to set your alarm early and quite frankly should be heralded with a trumpet fanfare each day. A grand ballroom is given over to an arrangement of banqueting tables heaped with every imaginable breakfast food, including some you hadn’t anticipated, like chocolate truffles.
An army of uniformed servers fills your plate with slivers of fine roast beef, smoked fish, pastries, bread, cheese, eggs, fish, cereals and fresh fruit, ensuring gourmands as well as the health conscious will be blissfully sated and going back for thirds. And if the sumptuous food were not enough, breakfast is eaten on a glass-enclosed terrace overlooking the lake, so that your first glimpse of the day is of the rising sun glinting on azure waters, a simultaneous feast for eyes and stomach.
After such an indulgent start to the day, we decided there was nothing for it except more indulgence. With regret, a walk around the hotel’s environs would have to wait, even though it is a gorgeous five-acre park on a hill, featuring lush greenery, exotic gardens, paths, decking and another pool. Instead, we headed to the spa’s indoor infinity pool that led directly outdoors to a Jacuzzi, a warm bath of bubbles that overlooked the sparkling lake panorama.
Emerging prune-like from the bubbles, I headed next door to the hotel’s award-winning T Spa, housed in historic Villa Emilia, which was once the library of nearby Villa Carlotta, revamped in 2016 into the hotel’s immaculate pampering haven. There in one of its five treatment rooms I was kneaded by expert hands during a 50-minute signature candle massage, a treatment using plant oils and aromatic emollient creams that sent me into a blissful reverie. Afterwards, I was escorted to a spectacular relaxation room, a traditional villa room with a lake view, frescos and mosaics that was kitted out with contemporary circular furnishings. Cocooned in comfort, I admired this design union of old and new until I nodded off.
To keep that holiday spirit alive I was tempted to take home a souvenir of my stay from the hotel’s online boutique, Sense of Lake. Its gorgeous silk scarves, clothes, accessories, personalised luggage and more have been carefully chosen by the hotel’s CEO, Valentina di Santis, who’s worked with exciting Italian designers to curate a niche collection of high-end goods that reflect its style.
What the Grand Hotel Tremezzo offers is a chance to luxuriate in an atmosphere of service and style that almost felt it belonged to a bygone age of opulence. But it’s available for anyone willing to make the journey to Lake Como to embrace its elegant vibe. Not to mention those fabulous views.
Rooms at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo are available from EUR 700/approx. £600 per night + VAT; free cancellation up to eight days prior to arrival. For further enquires and bookings, please visit www.grandhoteltremezzo.com
Its website Sense of Lake, a collection of specially chosen luxury goods made in Italy, is available here: www.senseoflake.com