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.
How to Get There
I’ve visited dozens of grand hotels around the world, and Villa D’este is of course one of them, but not quite from what I have seen on most of my other visits. My wife and I stayed there for 4 nights.
The hotel doesn’t lack any luxury, but the food service is very very weak. They were all very polite, but clearly lost. The food itself is OK , very weak breakfast though. A hotel like this should have an a la carte menu for special dishes besides the buffet. Also, it shouldn’t have a egg/omelet station for people to make a line and wait for their order. All omelette and eggs coming out while I waited for my turn were not coming out like they were supposed to, for a hotel like Villa D’este. It wasn’t different when my order came out. I’m sure if they get their main hotel chef to have simple scrambled eggs there he/she will understand what I am saying.
Good variety of cheeses, breads, yogurt and cold cuts, nothing extraordinary.
Lunch at the Veranda has as immense potential. The food was good, but not great, but you are awed by the view in front of you.
Dinner at Platano is good as well, nothing special, polite, but weak service, excusing the many small flaws throughout dinner.
From those experiences we did not want to ‘waste’ our last night trying the other restaurant The Grill at the hotel, and had some good food at a local place in Cernobbio.
Cleanliness outstanding , receptionists very welcoming, OK concierge .
My review is comparing from what I have seen around Europe, regarding similar price /exclusive hotels.
Don’t get me wrong, the hotel is beautiful, but if I return to Lake Como, I would definitely try someplace else.
Beautiful lakeside settings, a beautiful building, top notch service, stylish décor and stylish clientele, and a very relaxed atmosphere. One of the best inland summer resorts in Europe. Nothing beats the lakeside dinner or poolside lunch. We initially reserved places in a variety of restaurants around the lake, but then cancelled them and ate every night at the Villa d'Este. There is no reason to leave the hotel, not even to Como town (which is not very attractive).
The pool is too cold, though, and if there is one thing to improve it is heating the pool.
Villa d'Este can provide a motorized boat that you can drive on your own (if below 40 horse powers), water ski and other lake activities.
Everything about this hotel is fabulous, from the service, the rooms, the view and the ambience. We had a magical time, and Georgio on the desk was so helpful. A wonderful boat ride organised by the hotel on Lake Como capped off an excellent stay. Only downside is one of the restaurants required a tie......a shame in this day and age that was required. I thoroughly recommend Villa D’Este.