Few places are more lusted over than that of Lake Como. But when planning a holiday to one of the world’s most picturesque and luxurious locations, it can be hard to pinpoint exactly where to stay to make the very most of every minute. That is, until Il Sereno was opened in 2016.
Situated right on the lakefront in the picturesque town of Torno, Il Sereno stands out from every other hotel in the area due to its unique and elegant modern design. Building on the original hotel Villa Flora – maintaining the restaurant, pool and the lower rocks and stones – Il Sereno was created using just three materials: glass, stone and wood. The result is contemporary architecture and interior design done in a way that not only stands out from the rest, but enhances the stunningly beautiful backdrop. As one staff member told me, “it’s a bit of Milan in Lake Como.”
Upon arriving at Il Sereno, you’re immediately made to feel at home by the friendly and attentive staff, who will offer you a welcome drink on the balcony overlooking the lake (the bartender is knowledgeable and the cocktails are delicious). This service continues throughout the stay with everything taken care of before you’ve even thought to ask.
The inside interiors perfectly complement the chic exterior with a sun-filled room containing sofas, coffee table books and tan leather armchairs that look like they’ve come directly from an Architectural Digest spread. Leading Milan-based architect and designer Patricia Urquiola is behind both the hotel’s architecture and contemporary interiors with the aim of creating a space that feels like a home away from home (albeit an incredibly sleek one).
It’s hard not to focus on – and spend all your time at – Il Sereno’s heated 60-foot-long freshwater infinity pool that is suspended directly over the lake, beside a small sandy beach where standup paddleboards and a kayak are available to rent. Parked at the dock are two all-wood Riva motor boats – yes, the ones from the images you have in your mind of celebrities zipping across Lake Como – which are available to rent, either with a driver or without, as well as a grand Vaporina del Lago water limousine.
We opted to self-drive and spent an hour driving around the lake spotting George and Amal Clooney’s house – not too far up on the left-hand side in Bellagio – following a staff member’s instructions to find a waterfall near Nesso, swimming, and, of course, getting iconic photographs. Other activities, such as fishing trips, wine tasting and cooking classes, can also be organised.
The à la carte breakfast is held in the hotel’s lakeside restaurant, which is situated under original arches dating back centuries with open stone awnings looking out over the water that makes you feel as though you’re in a castle. The views were matched with a perfect menu offering, attentive staff, and fresh pastries brought to the table in lieu of a buffet offering.
For dinner, the space is transformed into Il Sereno Al Lago, with the ambience and innovation you’d expect from a Michelin-starred restaurant, while still providing an experience with traditional regional flavours and dishes. It’s consistently booked due to its glowing reputation and unparalleled views bringing in local diners and travellers from other accommodations in the area. Don’t skip the ravioli.
The rooms – there are 40 split across three levels, including three penthouses – are spacious, chic and tasteful and continue the hotel’s themes of stone, wood and marble. They feel calm and tranquil and all come with their own large furnished terraces and unobstructed water views. The beds are incredibly comfortable and the baths are standalone. The spa, located in a stone-clad former boathouse, is complete with a sauna, steam room and three rooms for beauty treatments. The gym, found in the same building, has equipment that is top-grade and personal trainers available to book, too.
The use of greenery throughout, including three vertical gardens designed by renowned French botanist Patrick Blanc, adds personality to the hotel, and the small garden at the entrance, overlooking Lake Como, where most botanicals found in restaurant are grown, is another slice of heaven.
Despite its location and incredible facilities, Il Sereno manages to feel unpretentious, retaining its local character and charm. I’ve had the pleasure of staying at many five-star hotels, but none have perfected their offering or ambience quite as perfectly as this. It’s luxurious enough to feel as though you’re really at one of the world’s most incredible hotels while being relaxed enough to not feel stressed out about that fact. Everything is just as you’d expect it to be when you’re promised ultra-luxury: something that’s surprisingly harder to come by than you’d think.
Photos don’t do this place justice – you have to truly be there to feel its atmosphere, which will have you immediately plotting to return in the nearby future.
This article originally appeared on Grazia USA.