HOUSE ON THE LAKE
ON THE SITE OF A 15TH-CENTURY NUNS’ REFUGE, THE VILLA D’ESTE ON LAKE COMO IS NOW A HAVEN FOR ROYALTY AND FILM STARS
It’s easy to see why the great and the good flock to this luxury Italian hotel on the shores of Lake Como every summer. The Villa D’Este is a truly unique hotel: there is nothing else like it on Lake Como, or anywhere else for that matter. The history of the site dates from 1442 when a group of nuns seeking refuge from the civil war built a monastery here. In 1527 Cardinal Tolomeo Gallio demolished the nunnery and commissioned the architect Pellegrino Pellegrini of Valsolda to design a residence for his own use. The villa was purchased by Caroline of Brunswick in 1815 and later transformed into a hotel in 1873. Lake Como was as fashionable then as it is now; the hotel has attracted everyone from royalty to screen stars over its more than 500-year history and it continues to do so. Rooms in the hotel’s two main buildings are spacious and most have views of the lake, but a view of the garden is no less breathtaking. In her 1905 book Italian Villas and their Gardens, the American writer Edith Wharton described the gardens of the Villa D’Este as some of the most magificent in Italy. “The rich leafage of walnut, acacia and cypress, the glimpses of the blue lake far below, the rush of a mountain torrent through a deep glen spanned by a romantic ivy-clad bridge, make this bosco of the Villa d’Este one of the most enchanting bits of sylvan gardening in Italy,” she wrote. The 10-hectare gardens of the hotel offer extensive walking trails as well as tennis courts and a putting green (the hotel’s own golf course is 15km away). As well as the hotel’s famous floating pool there’s also an indoor pool for the cooler months. Despite its grandeur the Villa D’Este is still a relaxing place to holiday, but you need to dress for dinner. Jacket and tie required.
02 ME, ME, ME
Spanish luxury hotel group Melia Hotels International has landed in Milan, opening a Me by Melia in the heart of the city’s fashion and design district. There are 100 rooms and 32 suites in the hotel, designed by the late architect Aldo Rossi, and in the former site of the I’Hotel Duca di Milano. The Me by Melia hotels are also known for their rooftop bars, with London’s Radio Rooftop Bar one of the most popular (and hard to get into to) bars in the British capital. The Milan establishment will also have its own rooftop bar (with an exclusive elevator) as well as two contemporary Italian restaurants. One of the top suites, Suite Me, has a 100sq m private terrace for the best views of Milan’s Piazza della Repubblica.