Villa d’Este, Lago di Como

A crown jewel of Lake Como

Tucked away in a natural, private cove on Lake Como, Villa d’Este, Lago di Como embraces the vibrant scenery and the calm, cool waters that have been so suitably dubbed “the looking glass of Venus.”

Originally built in the 16th century as a summer residence for a wealthy cardinal, the grand property changed hands among various nobility until 1815, when it was purchased by Caroline of Brunswick, princess of Wales. The lavish foyers and 152 rooms of Villa d’Este are adorned with the artwork and antiquities of its many previous owners.

In 1873 it was opened as a luxury hotel and remains a favorite retreat for modern royalty. Privacy and discretion are of utmost importance, but it’s not unusual to see loyal patrons such as Queen Beatrix of Holland, Bruce Springsteen, Barbra Streisand, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, Robert De Niro and, of course, neighbor George Clooney strolling through the gardens or sunbathing by the stunning pool that floats in the midst of Lake Como.

Our Inspector's Highlights

  • Villa d’Este’s 25-acre imperial garden and unique mosaic wall are signature icons that have been named a national monument by the Italian National Trust and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Don’t miss a chance to stroll through these historic grounds — you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time.
  • Art lovers can request a guided tour to admire the paintings, sculptures and antiques that have been collected over the centuries by past owners. Ask to visit the Column Room to see a 19th-century fresco ceiling that was accidentally discovered just 15 years ago.
  • After a morning of sailing or tennis, soothe your sunburned skin with a Hydrasilk facial and Mud Mask body treatment at Villa d’Este Beauty Center.
  • You’ll feel like visiting royalty at this historic waterfront hideaway. All rooms open to views of Lake Como or the Italian gardens, have large wardrobes or walk-in closets and carry exclusive Villa d’Este bath products in marble-laid bathrooms.
  • Making the most of Villa d’Este’s prime Lake Como location, almost all of the luxury hotel's dining venues offer alfresco seating. Sup on the incredibly fresh creations of executive chef Michele Zambanini while soaking up vistas of the gorgeous gardens and sparkling waters.

Things to Know

  • Villa d’Este is closed from mid-November to early March for upkeep and maintenance — not even Brad Pitt was able to book a January party here.
  • Arrive in luxury by helicopter or yacht at the private helipad or marina.
  • Tour the property vegetable garden with chef Zambanini and learn how to choose fresh herbs and produce. Occasionally, he provides cooking demonstrations for food aficionados.
  • Families are welcome. Take advantage of babysitting services for a parents' night out or take the tots for a splash in the kid’s pool.
  • In April, the jasmine-swathed columns of the terrace archways exude fragrance throughout the entire Lake Como hotel.

The Rooms

  • Villa d’Este’s 152 accommodations are spread between the main Cardinal Building with 125 rooms and suites, and the Queen’s Pavilion housing 27 stylish spaces.
  • While no two rooms are exactly alike, the décor is lavishly comfortable, featuring old-world touches like thick drapes, dark woods and classic chandeliers.
  • For prime luxury, ask for the Cardinal Suite. Named for the villa’s original owner, this sumptuous 1,162-square-foot space comes with a lake panorama and an equally majestic terrace.
  • All rooms and suites in the Queen’s Pavilion afford vast views of Lake Como and are set away from the main house, offering quiet and serenity.
  • There are also four private villas on the property, one of which is a hidden love nest within the garden’s striking mosaic wall.

The Restaurants

  • Chef Zambanini oversees all culinary preparation at Villa d’Este and is known for his talent of transforming traditional dishes into gourmet meals.
  • Try his risotto con zincarlin e lucioperca mantecato, an elegant variant of a local rice dish made with fresh fish from Lake Como.
  • The more casual Grill and Il Platano at the luxury hotel are open only in the evening, whereas the Veranda is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Villa d’Este’s restaurants are popular with the neighbors, so book in advance.
  • A formal dress code of jacket is observed by gentlemen at Veranda in the evenings. Sought-after tables like Nos. 1, 2 and 20 afford vistas of both the lake and garden.
  • If you’re looking for a drink, stop by the poolside Sundeck for an alfresco sip or the regal Canova Bar, where morning coffee, afternoon tea and evening aperitif are served in opulent blue surroundings.

24-hour room service
Babysitting services
Indoor pool
Meeting rooms
Outdoor pool
Getting There
Via Regina, 40 22012 Cernobbio, Italy
MXP (40-50 min)   LIN (50 min-1 h 5 min)   LUG (35 min)  
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