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Elisabeth Rushton discovers the many charms and facilities of Grand Hotel Villa Servelloni, which enjoys an incomparable location on Lake Como, Italy.

A luxury stay on Lake Como

erial view of Villa Serbelloni

Few hotels in the world possess a richer history or a better location than the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni. Built in 1850 as a holiday home for Milanese aristocrats, the magnificent, yellow-stucco villa was turned into a hotel in 1873, and has been welcoming illustrious guests, including world leaders, Hollywood stars, and the international glitterati ever since.

Villa Serbelloni occupies one of the most prestigious positions in Lake Como. The lakeside property is situated in the beautiful municipality of Bellagio – dubbed the ‘Pearl of the Lake’ – and occupies a spot at the tip of the promontory at which the two southern branches of Lake Como bifurcate. Bellagio boasts the most extensive and luminous view of the lake, and the vantage point from Villa Serbelloni arguably surpasses that of the (many) other grand hotels on the lake. Little wonder, then, that the hotel has enjoyed the patronage of Al Pacino, Romy Schneider, and Sir Winston Churchill (indeed, Suite 141 is designated “The Sir Winston Churchill Suite”, in the British statesman’s honour).

 In addition to its incomparable location and enviable history, Villa Serbelloni has much else to recommend it to the discerning traveller. The hotel has 95 rooms, many with lake views, and all with typical Italian styling, including marble columns, trompe l’oeil, fine drapes, and gold chandeliers. As the building was formerly a private residence, each of the rooms and suites are different sizes, and each individually decorated. The spacious suites have elaborate fittings, Murano chandeliers and antique pieces of furniture in light hues of pale pink and peal grey. Some rooms have lake views, while others look over the park and the streets of Bellagio. I stayed in an executive room with a lake view, which featured enormously high, intricately frescoed ceilings, stucco work and classic-style furnishings. The bathroom was well appointed and spacious, with twin sinks, a powerful shower and separate bathtub. Rance, who have been producing premium fine quality soaps in Italy since 1795, have produced an exclusive range of toiletries for Villa Serbelloni’s guests, and these were excellent.

Villa Serbelloni, lake Como

The grounds are breathtaking. The opulent villa is nestled among lush, Italianate gardens, bursting with Mediterranean and subtropical plants. The camellias and magnolias were in full bloom during my stay in June. The hotel has its own private dock, and private motorboat tours can be organised. The expansive grounds lay host to an impressive array of facilities. There are both indoor and outdoor pools, and there are two diving platforms in the Lake just in front of the hotel, which were especially popular with younger guests. Children are welcomed, and are well catered for; there is a play area in the gardens. The 9,000-sq-ft fitness centre, which is located in an outbuilding, some five minutes walk from the main hotel building, is fantastically large and well-equipped, housing a gym, sauna, steam room and a squash court. There is also an outdoor tennis court, and tennis racquets and balls are available to hire.

Treatment at Spa, Villa Serbelloni, Lake Como

One of the highlights of my visit was my experience in The Spa, a visit to which should be considered an essential feature of any stay at Villa Serbelloni. The Spa offers plenty of wellness programmes including Ayurvedic-inspired massages. I experienced ‘Glamour’ – an exclusive, 90-minute treatment that involves a full body scrub, massage and facial. My therapist helped me to select a base oil (I selected an energising jasmine blend, as my treatment was mid afternoon, and I wanted to be alert for the rest of the day). The scrub was comprised of softening shea butter and vitamin-rich citrus fruit extracts, and my therapist said that it would assist with the absorption of the massage oil. The treatment was perfectly designed and executed, and my entire body was glowing afterwards. It was the perfect blend of pampering and relaxation.

Breakfast at Villa Serbelloni, Lake Como, Italyy

The hotel has two restaurants: the formal Michelin-starred Mistral and nautical-themed La Goletta. Mistral specializes in sophisticated Italian molecular cuisine; a style of cooking that carefully balances the physical effects and transformations of ingredients during the cooking process. By contrast, the more laid back La Goletta has a boat-themed interior, and focuses on regional cuisine. It offers traditional Italian dishes and pizzas in a laid-back setting, and is open all day. The buffet breakfast (served in the Mistral) includes fresh fruits, cereals, cold cuts and superlative omelettes. I noted an impressive number of gluten-free alternatives on offer. In the evening, the terrace is a gorgeous spot for a sundowner.

In summation, the unrivalled location and history of Villa Serbelloni, coupled with its fantastic facilities and welcoming, efficient staff is a timelessly appealing offering.

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, Via Roma 1, 22021 Bellagio, Lake Como, Italy.

Tel: 00 39 031 950 216

Double rooms from €279 per night in low season; rising to €342 per night in high. Breakfast included. Free Wi-Fi.

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