Grand Hotel Tremezzo is rich in history, elegantly old-school and beautifully set right on Lake Como. Top that off with a Santa Maria Novella spa, waterside bars and in-house Italian dining and you’ve got la dolce vita.
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Tickets to Villa Carlotta botanical gardens. For GoldSmiths, there is also a bottle of prosecco and a cocoa-and-almond 'valentina' cake
Noon and earliest check-in is 3pm, but flexible according to availability. Guests arriving early or departing late can use the facilities of the hotel free of charge; their baggage will be kept in the storage and they will be able to use the changing room
Double rooms from £820.42 (€913), including tax at 10 per cent.
Rates usually include breakfast, free basic WiFi, valet parking, access to spa and all resort facilities including the beach and three pools.
Ask nicely and the chef will give you a lesson in cooking pizza and pasta.
A city tax of €2.50 per person per day will be charged at check out for stays starting between 1 April and 31 October.
The hotel is closed every year from November to March.
At the hotel
Free basic WiFi (paid-for premium WiFi), three swimming pools, beach, spa and health club facilities, and laundry services. In rooms: TV, minibar with free non-alcoholic drinks and bottled water, Santa Maria Novella bath products.
Our favourite rooms
The centrally located Greta suite has a large terrace, and a stay in the spacious Emilia suite, which is in the spa building, will have you feeling like you’ve moved into your own lakeside property. Each has its own heated outdoor Jacuzzi. To have your every whim immediately catered to, stay in one of the rooftop suites, where the hotel's team of concierges will be at your beck and call.
You could easily spend a day rotating between Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s three pools. We particularly like the heated, Instagram-worthy, water-on-water floating pool on the lake, which is close to both the beach and T Beach Champagne bar. Surrounded by 100-year-old gardens, Flowers Pool is heated, family-friendly and has a lifeguard on duty from 10am until 6pm. If all that swimming and sunning activates your appetite, T Pizza restaurant and bar is within a few flip-flop paces of the pool. And finally, the adults-only indoor infinity pool is heated, directly connected to the T Spa and has a panoramic relaxation lounge overlooking the lake.
T Spa is just next to the main hotel, in the 18th-century Villa Emilia, and specialises in anti-stress and rebalancing treatments, all using luxurious Santa Maria Novella lotions and potions. It has five treatment rooms, a Spa Suite for couples, a nail bar, a Hammam suite with a scrub plinth and a water blade style shower, a humid area with sauna and steam bath, a mediterranean sauna, salt relaxation room and a whirlpool. You can sip on herbal teas and nibble on snacks in the relaxation areas or float in the adults-only pool between treatments. Book the spa suite for a couples massage in your own private spa, complete with whirlpool tub, sauna, steam bath with cascade shower and post-treatment herbal tea and freshly-baked sweets.
Bring the boat shoes and a screen-siren-worthy scarf if you fancy zipping along across the lake in vintage style. Leave space for a bottle or two of wine in your luggage on the way home.
Yoga classes and personal training are available on request.
Small pets are welcome; just tell the hotel about your fluffy companion to get a bowl, dog bed and cover. Dogs are welcome everywhere in the hotel, except for La Terrazza restaurant and the spa. Dog walking and dog-sitting service can be arranged. See more pet-friendly hotels in Lake Como.
All ages welcome. The restaurants have children's’ menus. Some rooms can interconnect with suites. Baby cots and extra beds are free for kids under 12; €120 a night (plus VAT, with breakfast included) for those aged 13 and over.
The terrace is best for feeling part of the crowd and experiencing the grandeur of the lake at night. T Pizza is the place for a more relaxed evening. A private table can be set up in the garden for a romantic pasto per due.
Daytime is casual, with guests in tailored shorts and t-shirts. The evening scene sees shirts and chinos.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo has two restaurants and three bars. La TerrazzaGualtiero Marchesi is helmed by head chef Osvaldo Presazzi and serves Italian gourmet traditional cuisine. It's named for the 'father of modern Italian cuisine' and serves his signature dishes (open ravioli, gilded saffron risotto and such). Dine here for breakfast and dinner. L'EscaleTrattoria & Wine Bar opens its doors for dinner and serves boards of local Italian cheeses and cold cuts, plus a select edit of polished rural dishes. A wine tasting will let you properly peruse some of the more than 300 Italian regional wines.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s three bars should keep you refreshed during your stay. On the panoramic terrace you’ll find T Bar. Settle in to enjoy the view over Bellagio with a signature T Ribbon cocktail made from vodka, Aperol, pineapple juice, orange bitter and saffron. The extensive menu includes pastas, sandwiches, burgers and desserts. There is live piano music every evening. Outdoor T Beach will ensure you don’t get too parched in the sunshine, and the pizzaioli at T Pizza will bake your pie of choice in front of your eyes.
T Beach and T Pizza wrap things up at 6pm. Dinner is served until 10:30pm at La Terrazza Gualtiero Marchesi and 11:30pm at L’Escale Trattoria & Wine Bar and drinks flow until midnight at T Bar.
The 24-hour room service has a day menu for cravings from 6.30am-11pm, a night menu for after hours hunger and an extensive drinks selection.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo has an enviable lakeside location just off the scenic road of Lake Como.
Milan Malpensa Airport is 80km away. The hotel can arrange transfers costing from €200 to €360, depending on the size and spec of car and number of passengers. The next closest airport is Milan Linate (€220 to €370 for a hotel-arranged transfer).
Como San Giovanni station is 29km (30 min drive) away, and the hotel can arrange transfers costing from €110 to €210, depending on the car.
The hotel has valet parking and they'll drop your car off at an external garage, which costs €35 a night (plus VAT). Grand Hotel Tremezzo is about one hour from Milan. From Milan, follow the signs for the A9 motorway in the direction of Como–Chiasso, then take the Lago di Como exit. After about 1km, take the third exit at the roundabout and follow the sign for Menaggio, which will lead to a drive along the panoramic road (Strada Statale Regina SS340) along the shore of the lake for about 25km. Orange signs along the road will indicate the distance to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, which is just past the Tremezzo town sign.
The hotel is well connected by ferry to Varenna and Bellagio and local ports are within easy walking distance.
Worth getting out of bed for
The countryside around Grand Hotel Tremezzo is zig-zagged with hiking trails and cycle paths, and the concierge can provide maps and arrange bike rental, walks and picnics. Or just explore the gardens of Villa Carlotta, next door: they were built in 1745, later gifted to a Prussian princess and remain famous for their flowers.
Seven of Italy's top 18-hole golf courses are within driving distance of the hotel. One of the oldest and best-regarded clubs in Europe, the Menaggio & Cadenabbia Golf Club, is only 5km away.
Take a trip in a 1950s boat (along with a picnic basket) and explore Isola Comacina, or hire a seaplane for a bird’s-eye-view of the lake. Take the ferry to Bellagio to explore the historic town and check out the gardens of Villa Serbelloni, which has played host to both Leonardo da Vinci and Queen Victoria in its time. Arrive early and sign-up for one of the twice-daily guided visits. Fans of 007 may want to surveil Villa del Balbianello, where parts of Casino Royale were filmed.
And if you fancy a spot of shopping, hotel head honcho Valentina will happily share the names of her favourite boutiques in Como town.
For traditional Lake Como cuisine in Tremezzino, try dinner at Al Veluu, which uses ingredients grown in its organic garden. It also has views over Punta Balbianello and Golfo di Lenno, and a heady selection of regional wines. If you’re craving pizza and down the road in Menaggio, try a pie at Pizzeria Lugano Ristorante (+39 0344 31664). It’s a few streets away from the main road and has a mouthwateringly good buffalo mozzarella pizza. Locanda Dell'Isola, on Comacina island, has an extremely reasonable six-course menu with light simple fare and white wine. In June there's a spectacular fireworks display on the island.
Request a table on the lakeside terrace and try whatever fish has been caught from the lake that day at Ristorante la Punta, on the edge of Bellagio. For traditional Italian dishes with modern flair, head to Bellagio’s Ristorante Salice Blu; if you like it so much you want to take the chef home, try one of their cooking masterclasses and learn to make pasta, gnocchi, risotto and tiramisu.
Low key Antica Trattoria del Risorgimento in neighboring Mezzegra is all about honest Italian fare. The ravioli and fresh fish are consistent crowd-pleasers. For lunch in Bellagio, try Far Out, which serves up tasty antipasti, pastas and mains. If you’re a tiramisu fan, try it here. It wouldn’t be a proper Italian holiday without a stop (ahem, per day) for gelato. Panna e Cioccolato (Via Calvi 5) in Menaggio’s cobble-stoned centre is, some say, the best in the area, and with its daily changing and seasonal flavours, we’re inclined to agree.
Snag a table on the terrace or in the wine cellar at Cantina Follie in Tremezzina. If you find a new favourite wine, take home a bottle or two from the adjoining shop. Enoteca Cava Turacciolo in Bellagio holds more than 300 local and national wines, which can be tasted with a selection of fresh fishes, meats and cheeses. Wine bar Apertivo et al, also in Bellagio, has an extensive selection too and is worth a visit at lunchtime. Glass of wine with my risotto? Don’t mind if I do.
It had been one of those frantic pre-holiday dashes: Mr Smith lost his phone in the park, our lumbering but lovable Frenchie tumbled into the pond, the house resembled student digs and my pregnancy hormones were raging – our home was hardly a welcoming nest for a incoming newborn. A weekend away was clearly in order. In fact, that strange and cunning word ‘babymoon’ was about to be exploited.
‘It’s very peaceful, isn’t it?’ Mr Smith observed as we drove along Lake Como. ‘Rather quaint and sleepy…’ he said, as a lone sea plane cut through the lake, a reminder that although Como may have all the charm of a sleepy lakeside bolt-hole, the Clooneys and their ilk are also in town.
An hour’s drive from Milan Malpensa in our Fiat Panda led us to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, perched on the side of Lake Como. And grand it is, restored to its 1910 splendour. At reception we were met by a parade of towering rose stems submerged in vast vases, lavish candelabras and a swell of red-velvet loveseats. I shrieked with pregnant delight as I spied the table of pick ‘n’ mix canapés – a friendly touch to replenish the low blood sugar.
The hotel is owned and run by a Como family who are still very involved in everything from the silverware to the constant refreshing of the flowers. The hotel was one of Lake Como’s first five-star hotels and back in 1910 was regarded as extremely avant-garde, especially the elevator leading from the road to the first-floor reception. With only 90 rooms, and a 200-guest capacity, the hotel has a warm and cosy feel, despite its grandeur. We opted for a deluxe lake-view room and it didn’t disappoint. The bed facing the French windows and cast-iron balcony offered a glorious view of the lake speckled with dancing images of terracotta homes reflected in the water, and lush green hillsides capped off with snow.
In the marbled and gilded bathroom, however, was the unwelcome sight of scales. But this was not a weekend for fretting about carbs. No, this was a weekend for babymoon extravagance, so before paying a lengthy visit to the T Spa for an Espa pregnancy massage and facial, Mr Smith and I tried out the indoor infinity pool. It’s in need of some TLC (a lick of paint and better lighting, perhaps) but when I saw how it opened up to a breath-taking view of the lake, I felt a bit churlish for nit-picking. The Espa massage and facial were performed with the utmost love and care, perfect for my tired legs, and they somehow restored a glow to my early-morning-flight face.
For dinner, we opted for the tasting menu in the hotel’s main restaurant La Terrazza, masterminded by the first chef to bring a Michelin star to Italy, 86-year old Gualtiero Marchesi. The curried chicken and mashed potato amuse bouche was a rather eccentric start, but was certainly tasty.
The lake’s outstanding villas and gardens are a popular attraction so on an overcast Saturday, we explored Villa Balbianello. A 25-minute panoramic walk (or a 5-euro water taxi) from the quaint town of Lenno gets you to the spectacular 1500s villa, where Casino Royale was shot here. The bookshop stocks the local olive oil which is well worth buying, if only for its gorgeous bottle (but you can get it cheaper in the wine shop right by Grand Tremezzo).
We’d heard a lot about the rival hotel Villa d’Este, so we headed there for a palatial sun-downer (the Italians implore a pregnant woman to drink as ‘it’s good for the baby’). It is indeed beautiful. Right on the lake, the old palace is in its own little bay, a haven of seclusion and peace. It’s a perfect place to gaze at Como’s glamour pusses as they try to board their private boats in the highest of heels, glass in hand, Saturday-night gowns skin tight.
While I currently can offer no real insight to Como’s wineries and vineyards, over the months I have mastered the art as a gelato connoisseur. Italians love gelato, especially when the sun’s out. Try La Fabbrica del Gelato in Lenno if you visit Villa Balbianello or Il Pistacchietto in Cernobbio.
Sunday morning, we awoke to the Tremezzo church bells ringing out. With a brilliant blue sky above, we decided to savour our last day lounging by the T garden pool, one of the three Grand Tremezzo pools – the prettiest and most recently refurbished. At 11.30am, a refreshing frozen shot of apple, cucumber, spinach and ginger was offered around – delicious.
Our favourite afternoon meal was spent at the family restaurant, Locanda La Tirlindana. Down the cobbled steps of Cala Comacina, you enter the mediaeval square of Piazza Matteotti and Chef Patricia’s delightful restaurant, set directly on the water’s edge. Here, Italian families chat away over fritto misto di mare, dopey dogs chase the ducks into the lake and kids run along the restaurant’s jetty dressed as sailors. This was the local heart of Lake Como and we seemed to be the only non Italians; it felt as if we had been let into the secret. I recommend the signature ravioli with mascarpone and lemon; and then, take the ferry from the restaurant to Lake Como’s only island, Isola Comacina, and wander around San Giovanni church, artists’ houses and Roman ruins.
It was the Fiat Panda that brought us back to reality later that afternoon as we drove past the yellow Lamborghinis spiriting our fellow weekend guests away while we headed for the airport. We left with the lingering scent of old-fashioned luxury and sights and sounds that we’ll treasure forever.