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Il Sereno, Lake Como - hotel review

Laidback luxury on the lake

T

he first new hotel to be built on the shores of exclusive Lake Como in decades, Il Sereno is a modern masterpiece.

Sitting alongside grand 18th-century Italian villas, Patricia Urquiola's ultra-modern design has brought cool to Como.

Where is it?

Nestled round the corner from the pretty little village of Torno and a 20 minute boat ride from Como city which is packed with boutiques and restaurants. With direct lake access, Il Sereno takes up a prime patch of Lago di Como real estate. In good company, across the water sits superstar neighbour George Clooney’s 25-room villa and Gianni Versace’s former home, Villa Fontanelle.

Style

A showy neoclassical Italian villa this is not. Architect Patricia Urquiola’s modern design blends into the shoreline so well it feels as though it’s camouflaged. World-famous botanist Patrick Blanc’s luscious vertical garden adds to the general zen-like feel. Urquiola’s touch is everywhere: from the interiors of the hotel’s private, custom-built Riva boats to the chic staff uniform. Rooms are cosy and contemporary with walnut wood, bronze and dotted with pieces from Urquiola’s previous furniture collections. Giant floor to ceiling windows welcome in the sparkling lake while an inspired stacked, winding staircase made from walnut wood links the open lobby and restaurant. While some of other iconic hotels in the area feel Sunday best formal, the vibe at Il Sereno is understated and relaxed.

People. Fashion. Power. Delivered weekly.

Design details in the Il Sereno lobby (Patricia Parinejad)

Which room?

An all-suite hotel, there are no bad rooms at Il Sereno. All 30 overlook the lake and floor to ceiling windows make the most of glistening water outside. Extra wide balconies come with chic sofas and chairs perfect for sitting and staring slack-jawed at one of the best views in the world. The impressive Darsena suite on the ground floor is worth splurging on if you can for private and direct access to the lake.

Food & drink

Milanese chef Andrea Berton heads up the hotel’s Berton Al Lago, which won a Michelin star within twelve months of opening. The tasting menus take classic Italian dishes and reinterpret them with a modern twist. Think eggplant millefeuille with sweet tomatoes and creamy mozzarella or risotto served with perch fresh from the lake. The pistachio mousse with wild strawberries and salted pistachios has become a must-try for those in the know. Vegetarians will eat well here. Berton’s seven-course veggie tasting menu is inventive and makes use of local ingredients, including the hotel’s own herb garden. Lunch can be a more casual affair with hearty burgers and perfectly-cooked bowls of pasta served in the restaurant or by the pool. Aperitivo on the hotel’s wrap-around terrace as the sun cools and the lake quietens is a must.

Lunch with a view at Berton al Lago (Patricia Parinejad)

Facilities

The heated freshwater infinity pool is where it’s at. Grab a cabana or sun lounger and the charming pool attendants will keep you hydrated with water and minty ice lollies. There’s a gym and Valmont spa with a spectacular relaxation room in the old boathouse. Really though, the best thing to do is rent one of the hotel’s Riva boats, order the decadent Larusmiani picnic hamper and head out on the lake. Sip on champagne, feast on creamy burrata or lobster and, when you can’t resist any longer, kill the engine and jump in.

Il Sereno's Aperitivo spot (Patricia Parinejad)

Extracurricular

No doubt you’ll find it hard to peel yourself off your exceedingly comfortable sun bed, but plenty of lake-based fun awaits those who do. Paddle boarding, jet skiing, water skiing, sailing and row boats are all available. Lake Como is dotted with pretty little towns including the touristy but beautiful Bellagio. Five minutes from Il Sereno is the tiny village of Torno and a lake-side meal on the picture-perfect terrace at local restaurant Il Vapore is worth the short walk. For 2020, ll Sereno has teamed up with luxury hotel The Chedi Andermatt in the Swiss Alps for a special four-night Gourmet Getaway package. Details here.

Best for

Chic couples. Though families are very much welcome and a few of the suites can sleep four.

All 30 rooms have lake views (Patricia Parinejad)

How to get there

The nearest airport is Milan Malpensa with regular flights from all London airports. From there it’s a 45-minute drive. Il Sereno can arrange transfers for €160. Room start from around £714 per night.