The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is the stuff of legends. Perched on the sunny side of Italy’s prettiest lake, this art nouveau beauty has been wowing the crowds since 1910. Famously, Greta Garbo’s favourite retreat, she called it “that happy, sunny place” in the film Grand Hotel.
But don’t think for an instant this hotel is stuck in the past or that it’s all stiff upper lip. While it looks like the sort of place that might have inspired Wes Anderson with its classic façade, the hotel balances its glam past with contemporary luxuries and warm seamless service.
Arriving is quite an experience as I climb out of a car, my bags are whisked away and I’m directed into a glass elevator so I can admire the views of Lake Como as I ascend to reception.
The lobby is a classic: parquet floors, period décor and a striking red floral display. The lollipop-coloured armchairs in the sitting room add a touch of whimsy and modernity.
Check-in is efficient and I’m given a real key (how old school), which can be slotted into the key board if I’m venturing out.
Dining is a pleasure here with three main options. T Bar (the bar and terrace) offer mesmerising views across the lake to Bellagio. This is the place to nurse an espresso or indulge in an Aperol spritz with aperitivo. Breakfast – a truly over-the-top indulgent affair – is served on the other terrace, which transforms nightly into La Terrazza Gualtiero Marchesi – a fine diner known for its gold-leaf saffron risotto. I rather like the more informal L’Escale trattoria and wine bar – a sleek spot that could easily have been plucked from nearby Milan.
Of course, the pick of the 90 bedrooms face the lake though the park side is pretty too. My room is restrained elegance with a high ceiling, billowing curtains and gilded bed frame. The bathroom’s speckled marble and custom-made Aqua Como amenities are enticing but the star attraction’s got to be the teeny terracotta-tiled terrace with its picture-postcard views.
There’s no shortage of things to do here. Cross the road to the sunny lido/beach or choose from three pools: the iconic front pool that floats on the lake; the discrete garden pool at the back; and, the cool one at the T Spa. The 18th-century villa next door houses the spa, which offers wellness treatments (my facial using Santa Maria Novella products seemed to work miracles – even if only for a short time). The gym stretches over three floors of another villa.
If you can bear to leave (yes, it is difficult), the hotel has two vintage boats that can be hired. My friends and I channel “La Dolce Vita” for a classic boating experience one day while the next day I catch the traditional ferry, just down the road, close to Villa Carlotta and its lovely gardens. All in all, a magical hotel that continues to evolve.
Rates – including breakfast –start from about €572 (A$930) including taxes in low season.
Find out more: grandhoteltremezzo.com/en/home/