Lake Como, Italy


Price per night from$2,712.15

Price information

If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 60 days.

Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR2,500.00), via, using today’s exchange rate.


Bellini’s bolthole


Minutes from Moltrasio

There are no bum notes at Passalacqua on the shores of Lake Como, a casa that rivals chez Clooney and was once the home of the composer Bellini. Staff have removed the word ‘no’ from their vocabulary, so meals can be wherever you want them, starting with a rose-garden breakfast. Beneath the villa, there are tunnels providing a secret escape route to the marina for anyone feeling especially dramatic. The seven acres include centuries-old cedars and magnolias and even the gym is in an olive grove. And, when you’re ready to drag yourself away (it may be a while), Beppe the boatman is waiting to set sail into the sunset. 

Smith Extra

Get this when you book through us:

A signature cocktail each, plus a treat in your room on arrival. GoldSmiths will also get a cooking class with the chef (must be booked in advance)


Photos Passalacqua facilities

Need to know


24, including nine suites.


Earliest check-in, 3pm.


Double rooms from £2342.03 (€2,750), including tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.

More details

Rates usually include breakfast.


The musical maison is just as tuneful today – sound-systems in the rooms have three channels with Passalacqua playlists, one of which plays Bellini operas on loop, of course.

At the hotel

Free WiFi throughout, yoga classes, cinema nights, bocce court, clay tennis court, lake-facing gym in an olive grove and five free items of laundry. In rooms: Smeg kettle and Illy coffee machine, Bluetooth sound-system, free minibar with treats from the chef, TV and bespoke bath products.

Our favourite rooms

The rooms are set across three buildings: the main villa, the Palazz and Casa al Lago, whose four suites can be booked as a whole. Composers in need of inspiration should book the Bellini Suite and let the music play.


The third-biggest lake in Italy (not to mention the 11 fountains) may be beckoning, but the hotel’s waterside pool is just as refreshing.


There are treatment rooms in the Palazz, plus a Turkish bath and sauna – but you’ll have to navigate a secret staircase and 300-year-old tunnel to find them. For something more modern, guests can book a Dr Barbara Sturm facial.

Packing tips

The unabashedly opulent interiors may put the more weary items in your suitcase to shame – pack for late-18th-century splendour (without the periwigs).


The 18th-century building is not easily accessible for wheelchair users.


Pets are welcome for no extra charge – just let the hotel know in advance. See more pet-friendly hotels in Lake Como.


Cots for under-threes and a sofa bed (available in certain categories) for one child under-13 are both free. Sofa beds for older kids are €220 a night. Babysitting can be arranged on request (sadly not with the hotel’s chick mascot, Paolino).

Food and Drink

Photos Passalacqua food and drink

Top Table

There is an official restaurant, but wherever you’d like to eat, staff will set up a table for you (it’s that kind of place).

Dress Code

Phantom of the opera.

Hotel restaurant

Guests can wander freely in and out of the relaxed restaurant’s kitchens to see what’s cooking (some all-Italian deliciousness undoubtedly). They want you to be able to enjoy their homegrown dishes whenever, wherever and however you’d like them – experiences to try include farm-to-table tasting menus or doing a bit of the cookery yourself.

Hotel bar

There’s a mirrored bar in the villa with tables inside and out, and a pool bar overlooking the lake, too. Guests can also enjoy drinks in the library. It’d be rude not to toast the famous former resident with a peachy Bellini.

Last orders

Breakfast is served from 7am to 11am, with lunch and dinner at whatever time you want them. Afternoon tea can also be served on request. The bar is open until midnight. The pool bar is open from 11am to 7pm.

Room service

Unsurprisingly, given the hotel’s hospitable spirit, room service is available around the clock.


Photos Passalacqua location
Via Besana 59 Moltrasio
Lago di Como

The hotel is on the south-west shores of Lake Como, close to the Swiss border and near the comune of Moltrasio.


Milan’s three airports are all within driving distance: Malpensa is 40 minutes away, Linate is a 50-minute drive and the journey to Bergamo should take an hour and 15 minutes. Hotel transfers can be arranged to and from all of these hubs, starting from €190 each way.


The nearest train station is Como San Giovanni, a 10-minute drive away from Passalacqua. Hotel transfers cost from €50.


The preferred mode of transport in Como is by boat, but if you have come by car there’s free valet parking.


The hotel has its own dock for guests arriving by (preferably Riva) boat and there’s a helipad nearby in the village.

Worth getting out of bed for

You could happily while away your time here in the 18th century, with the villa’s Murano chandeliers, frescoes, winter garden and grand staircases for authentic company – swimming in the pool, walking in the woods, playing tennis or bocce, or practising yoga under the magnolia trees. But lakeside towns worth leaving the grounds for include Como, a 20-minute drive south, and Bellagio, a little further north and best reached by boat. Rent a Riva to cruise the lake or, for less glamour, catch the ferry. Guests can also head over to sister property Grand Hotel Tremezzo for a treatment in its T Spa Suite, which has its own hot tub, sauna and steam bath; or, back at Passalacqua, pick something in the garden and cook it with the chef.

Local restaurants

For a lakeside setting rivalling Passalacqua’s, book a table on the terrace at Aquadolce in the western-shore town of Carate Urio, or at Al Veluu in the comune of Tremezzina. The theme continues at Trattoria del Glicine, which has tables on a terrace above the lake. Stop by family-run Ristorante Trattoria del Glicine for an authentic Italian gourmet meal without the ostentation. Sip a sommelier-selected wine while sampling the porcini mushroom risotto under 100-year-old vines. If you’re looking for a more laid-back choice, Trattoria La Moltrasina is ideal. Go classic with a diavola pizza, or branch out and try the catalan-style shrimp tails. We recommend asking for a table on the terrace for the best views.

Local bars

Cernobbio has its own Harry’s Bar, so you can toast Passalacqua’s former landlord and his namesake peachy fizz (even if the cocktail was inspired by another Signor Bellini altogether). And more ridiculously romantic views of the water await at Una Finestra sul Lago (literally: a window on the lake). 


Photos Passalacqua reviews
Hannah Dace

Anonymous review

By Hannah Dace, Smith scribe

Let's rewind to last week, if I may. It’s breakfast time, but I’m all business. My glasses are on, my coffee is ordered, and my trusty notebook is ajar. Yet my pen, like a Parisian faire la bise, doesn’t quite make contact with the page. Because how the hell am I going to put Passalacqua into words?

They say to try and evoke the senses, and so it’s on the senses I shall lean. But my sixth tells me that you’re already opening a new tab and clicking ‘Get a room’ because, well, look at the pool.

First and foremost: you’ll see the opulence. It’s overt. There’s nothing cloak-and-dagger about the hand-blown Murano chandeliers, the Breccia Pontificia marble and not one, not two, but three (or four? I lost count) salones simply for lounging in – the most memorable of the lot furnished in shades of royal and baby blue.

In fact, no part of this villa is clandestine. Float through the open kitchen as chefs bake cakes and cure hams; or take the alternative route to the water via the network of tunnels. Watch the lake sparkle, shimmer and shine – lighting up at dusk like a candlelit chapel.

You’ll hear the grandeur, too. Given its Como-cuddling location, water runs through Passalacqua’s very veins – hell, it’s even in the name. Take a morning coffee down to the private marina, where genteel waves lap Giumello and Didi, the two vintage boats lovingly tended to by Beppe the boatman.

And you’ll be hard pressed to find anywhere on the estate without a soundtrack of water, given the 15 ornate fountains dotted through the grounds. Retire to your room and pick from three curated playlists – most notably featuring the composer Vincenzo Bellini, who was so taken by the villa that he resided here to compose many of his best-known works (something we have in common, I jest).

The smells at Passalacqua – bespoke Aqua Como 1787 scents from diffusers, and in bath products and eau de parfums, aside – come from the outdoors. Freshly cut grass, apple orchards, olive groves and roses en masse fragrance the estate.

Pick fruits from the trees and eggs from the coop, then take them to the copper-toned kitchen, where a white-hatted chef will cheerfully whip them into an apple pie – an aroma so well adored that you can buy candles scented after it.

What about touch? Well, you’ll want to get tactile with the Beltrami wood-fibre bed linens. They are, without a shadow of a doubt, the best bed sheets I’ve ever starfished in. I’ve taken to mentioning them at least once a day since checking out in the hope of manifesting them onto my own slightly less palatial bed.

Oh, and the JJ Martin-designed pool umbrellas, pillows and table settings, certainly. And the in-room towels and robes are the cosiest in the land (I realise I’m succumbing to hyperbole, but that’s because everything really is the loveliest, softest, finest, fanciest…).

I’ve saved the best until last: taste. Chefs put provenance first – ingredients are picked daily from the gardens and groves, and local farmers and fishermen provide the rest. The tiramisu is so good, even the most dairy-intolerant might be tempted to risk it all (don’t – I’d rather not be held accountable). The free minibars will leave you feeling only-child special. Join the gelato-making class that takes place every Tuesday (one of a weekly roster of daily activities) and hefty salted-pistachio scoops can be devoured at pace.

Come breakfast, multi-tiered stands of lovingly prepared local delights arrive beside every guest – an unexpected addition to the plump pastries, fresh fruits and glassy smoked salmon laid out on the feast-size dining table.

Passalacqua, I realise, gently nudges you – with a bocce toss, not a bowling strike – into a life of very Italian excess; the kind comprised of slow mornings and simple pleasures.

It felt like the perfect time to be putting this into practice, too, given the inextricable link to reset and renewal that September has brought ever since our first days at school. And then I heard a description that would make any teacher proud. So, studious ones, pick up a notebook, grab a pen and make a note as I did:

Italianity (noun): the quality, state or art of being Italian.

From here, you can confidently call it an art.

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Price per night from $2,712.15