Review: Villa d'Este

Aspire editor Hollie-Rae Brader explores Lake Como's crown jewel

Location: On the shores of Italy’s Lake Como in the cute village of Cernobbio you’ll find this grand property amid 25 acres of pristine private gardens. The hotel is located south of the lake; a 20-minute drive from the biggest town, Como, and less than an hour from Malpensa airport.

First impressions: Arguably the most famous hotel on Lake Como, Villa D’Este comes with a giant reputation. The property was built in 1568 as a private residence and later became the home of Princess Caroline of Brunswick.

It’s the traditional elegant decor and heritage features that make this property one of Italy’s most iconic. You feel like you’re stepping into something very special from the moment you arrive – in fact you could easily be stepping into a museum with ornate Murano glass chandeliers hanging in abundance and impressive artwork adorning the walls everywhere you turn.

The term ‘if walls could talk’ resonates at Villa D’Este with royalty, diplomats and celebrities galore having stayed here – including my icon Barbra Streisand.

The Facts: Villa D’Este has 152 rooms spread across the main Cardinal Building (125) and the Queen’s Pavilion (27).

There are also four villas around the grounds for those seeking maximum privacy and seclusion. The Veranda restaurant, serving primarily Italian cuisine, is incredibly popular – there wasn’t an empty seat during my stay.

The alfresco lakefront tables are the most popular, so booking in advance is essential. Other dining options include the informal Grill and Il Platano, which has views over the property’s gardens. 

As well as an impressive floating adult-only swimming pool, there’s also a smaller children’s pool and another large indoor option. The Sporting Club is home to a gym, sauna, steam room and squash courts.

There are eight tennis courts and guests can use the wide array of water sport paraphernalia including canoes, stand-up paddleboards, kayaks and windsurfing.

Explore: Take a short walk to Cernobbio, which offers plenty of good restaurants and bars.

For those wanting to explore more of the lake, recommend clients hire a Riva boat and venture south to Como or north to Bellagio – either way they’ll pass dozens of stunning private residences and villas.

Wow: The gardens are simply stunning. The perfectly pruned grounds have numerous water features, terraces, statues and even a mosaic-laden nymphaeum (a grotto for water nymphs).

The floating pool – the first of its kind on the lake – is an Instagrammer’s dream. Sadly, the only downside of my stay was the service was a little hit and miss.

Book it: Rates start from €1,050 including breakfast.

Hollie-Rae Brader

Hollie is editor of Aspire’s print and online products. She is responsible for the running of the club and ensuring the content produced and the events organised are relevant to the Aspire audience. She was previously deputy news editor and cruise writer for sister title Travel Weekly. She loves exploring new destinations and is gradually ticking new countries off her list. She most enjoys writing about cruise, South America and Japan. Before working in the travel industry she held news reporting roles at the East Anglian Daily Times and Ipswich Star.

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