Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni
“I’d not been to the Como area for 12 years... we decided on this classic hotel at the referral of an old family friend and are sure to someday return! What a special place, marked by lakeside glamour and old world charm. What was a more attractive feature than the famed (and wonderful, I can attest!) Villa D’Este, is that this property sits at the edge of the charming town of Bellagio. I loved that we never had to get in a car to get to dinner, to enjoy a gellato, to stroll. Recommend a minimum three-day stay and do be sure to make time for the bits & pieces I extracted for you in this review – some wonderful places to see, visit and eat. La Dolce Vita lives here...”
(Date experienced: June 2012)
A true holiday with lake and mountain views that literally take your breath away.
That special someone. Good for the family as well – one of the few hotels in the area that are.
Cocktail hour on the Veranda, hands down. Sipping rosé and looking out onto the lake while a trio played classic Italian melodies, felt right out of a Fellini film. Luciano, the head concierge for 25+ years here is our most memorable person from the trip – extremely knowledgeable, very kind and gracious.
Best time to go
Early Summer: wear white, take a dip in the lake, laps in the pool and enjoy long warm nights listening to music on the terrace. May & September are very pretty months here too. NB: the hotel is closed December through April.
You’re paying for location here – not updated style and technology. Old-fashioned charm and substance are the Serbelloni’s markers.
Most rooms take spectacular advantage of the lake views, and the few that don’t feature views of the property’s lovely park. (Choose lake of course when booking.) Room types are straight-forward: Double, Deluxe Double, Executive Double and a Senior Suite all adorned with period furnishings, rich in color and antiques. (and again: traditional)
Service & vibe
Professional and discretely friendly service. Staff tends to wait to be asked rather than trying to guess guest’s needs.
Buffet breakfast in a grand, ornate hall every morning is quite something. The hotel has two restaurants, La Goletta (informal) and Mistral (formal), which serve up traditional Italian fare and Mediterranean molecular cuisine. But with the town of Bellagio just out your front door, I’d suggest leaving the hotel for meals and exploring the yummy local eats. (Mistral is gastronomic which leaves much to be desired in a place where simple food is simply the best!)
Price per night
From $310 to $1,415 depending on room and season.
To Do & See
The truth is, as “touristy” as it may sound, the hot-list is the hit-list as follows – best done by private boat for 300 Euros, which the hotel concierge will arrange: Balbianello (gardens, views and do hire a guide for the interior), boat past Villa Casinella (Richard Branson owns it; should you like to rent it, contact Laura at firstname.lastname@example.org - along with several other gorgeous area villas), Villa Carlotta (exquisite gardens and palace), hotel Tremezzo (drink on the lake terrace). NB: People say the town of Varenna is charming and worthwhile - we disagreed! And of course, wandering the town of Bellagio (where the Serbelloni is) is very much lovely.
Sport & Activity
Tons to do should you opt to spend more time here – golfing, fishing, horse riding, boating, biking, hiking, squash, tennis, swimming (indoor and outdoor). There’s also a tennis court, and fitness center which offers pilates classes. Lap swimming in their gorgeous large pool, or of course, the lake! Was my preferred daily work-out. Plenty to stave off the pounds whilst enjoying every minute.
Spa & Grooming
‘The Beauty Farm’, the hotel’s spa, is simple and old-world in feel with very good treatments from facials to purifying body treatments. Guests may use the sauna and turkish bath without having any other services.
I do not recommend either of the Serbelloni’s restaurants, nor the poolside bar very highly...the prior is too chi chi, the second, nothing great in the quality department except for the salads which are very good. However! A 2 minute walk-away are the following: Bilacus (overlooking town steps) and Hotel Florence (romantic lakeside terrace brimming with bougainvillea). Pasticceria Castelli and Gellateria Borgo, both in Bellagio, are the sweet treats not to be missed! Darsene is a 5-minute taxi away, and Al Veluu is a 10 min ferry and 5 min taxi ride - one of the most exquisite lake views I've seen anywhere, among other special attributes. Il Gato Nero is similar in feel, but on the other side, closer to Como itself.
Drive or private boat to Como for great shopping, stopping at the famous and glorious Villa D'Este for a cocktail or lunch, and Il Gato Nero for dinner.
Although a small town, Bellagio has a number of boutiques to shop around. The area is famous for manufacturing silk fabrics, so make sure you get yourself a silk scarf or tie – Bellagioseta on Via Garibaldi (good shopping street) offers a wide variety of silk and leather goods. Salita Serbelloni is also lined with little shops selling wine, art, and shoes.