What We Love
- Dating back to the 16th century, the hotel has, over the years, added everything from formal gardens to fake fortifications
- Celebrity-spotting is a good way to while away the time between spa treatments
- Old-school service provided by staff, many who’ve worked here for decades
What To Know
- Boats (and captains) are available for hire to cruise the lake
- Free WiFi
- There are eight tennis courts on the grounds
You won’t find Italian Renaissance style more grand than this 16th-century Tivoli palace, whose immaculate, fountain-filled garden was so influential to future European garden design that it has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. What was built as a summer home for Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio in 1568 has become, through the ages, a playground for European royalty and the most discerning of guests. Stately staircases, extra-wide hallways, enormous flower arrangements, and a carefully curated selection of original paintings and sculptures all add to the allure. The terrace is the favored spot by guests for sipping evening aperitifs while gazing across the lake to the opposite hillside. The more casual sundeck is best for lunch.
Bed and Bath
Each of the 152 rooms is individually decorated with covetable antiques, marble bathrooms, and oil paintings. The covetable upper-floor rooms have better lake views, though even standard rooms look out onto the impressive Renaissance courtyard. Heavy striped curtains complement the pastel wallpaper and silk brocade, while touches like tassels, velvet, gilt, polished wood lend each room a rich, sumptuous feel.
Swimming in the lake comes at a close second to Villa d’Este’s iconic floating pool, built on a pontoon that sits out on the water. The pool, which is surrounded by wooden decking and rows of signature blue-cushioned sun lounges, also has a Jacuzzi built into the middle – an ideal place from which to observe the activity on the lake. In the winter, check out the heated indoor pool instead. The hotel bar has live music and is generally full in the evenings, full of post-spa guests just returned from a massage or facial after a day of sun worshipping.
In the Area
Lake Como itself is a celeb magnet, favored by the likes of George Clooney, Bono, Brangelina, and Versace. Because it’s just an hour’s drive from Milan, it’s possible to spend a day shopping in the city and still get back in time for a quick dip and pre-dinner cocktail at the villa’s Terrace Bar. From Como, there are numerous walking and hiking excursions with views over the lake; ask the concierge to help you choose one. There are also a number of golf clubs nearby, most of which admit non-members.