Stay at the Grand. That’s the hotel’s signature hashtag. They couldn’t give you more apt advice; in fact, anyone who has indeed stayed at the grand will enthusiastically second this suggestion.
Is it Grand? Yes, the art nouveau building is irrefutably impressive in its stately position on the lake’s more prestigious side, its elegance undeniable, its exceptional attention to detail and architectural splendor impossible to take for granted. Grand it is, but contemporary it feels. With a newly refurbished spa, named Best Spa of 2016 by Virtuoso, a lilt towards health and wellness in its food and activity offerings, and myriad other reflections of the needs of today’s worldly traveler, the property is confidently keeping up with the times.
If you have only a few days to spend on the lake, do not feel pressured to leave the property so often. In fact, there are few reasons to go beyond the floating pool. With ample areas to lay on a chaise lounge, two pools, a pizza bar, a ‘beach’ bar on the lake, two restaurants in the villa, the new spa and fitness center, Belle Epoque salons and drawing rooms, and walking paths behind the garden pool, one feels quite content at the Grand. The use of color is spot on; fuscia, lime, magenta, yellow, red… all of the hot colors on the color wheel encompass the interior rooms. I found myself repeatedly walking past the Sala Biliardo; its vibrant display of exuberant red, from the walls to the 18th century billiards table, made all the more eye-catching in the steadily streaming sun.
The property itself is a magnificent display of one of the things in which the Italians succeed so well: gardens. Ablaze in expertly curated flowers, oversized pots, fountains, hedges, its greenery is juxtaposed by the bright and cheerful orange pool towels. If you weren’t convinced about orange before your Stay at The Grand, you most certainly will be afterwards. With its riviera-like climate, plantings you might not expect in northern Italy delight here. Rare, ancient magnolias, an abundance of palms, azaleas, rhododendrons, tulips, and geraniums provide a lush setting. If you are so lucky as to have a room with a lake view, try with all your might to not close the black-out shades. Instead, allow yourself to be awoken by the sun rising over the mountains and illuminating the surface of Lake Como. To step out on your terrace and feel the first of the day’s rays touch your cheek… this is a form of meditation for which one only needs to be present.
The terraces are a complement to the colors of the shimmering lake, which in the morning glitters as if a chartered-boat load of diamonds has just fallen from the crest of the mountains. Pastel-colored tablecloths and chair cushions add so much liveliness and cheer to an already blissful terrace. In the evening, join the piano man for an aperitivo in the moonlight, an evening that could very well be stolen from a 1930s movie set. La Terrazza restaurant is resplendent in fine service and beautiful plates, but skips over that ‘stuffy’ atmosphere that many restaurants of this class tend to not be able to shake. We dined on splendid lake fish with views of the Grigne mountains and the stars dancing on the lake’s reflection. This could perhaps be the most picturesque terrace on all of Lake Como, with Bellagio twinkling in the distance. After dinner, cozy up in the T Bar, a snapshot from another era, seeped in charm, a dark wood bar, velvet seats, and a discreet atmosphere.
One activity not to be missed is a private boat ride with the hotel’s Concierge, a skip around the lake by private boat is the ideal way to take in the private villas and the transcendent lake breeze. But then, return immediately to the Grand. Greta Garbo is waiting…