Who looked at their feed last summer and thought How is everyone in Italy now? Overwhelmed and anxious, I decided it was time to take part in the faraway escape game. On my personal travel bucket list: romantic landscapes, Italian grandeur, fresh drizzle, and (most importantly) plenty of carbs. The perfect place to tick all the boxes: Lake Como. My home base for three nights will be the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, a family-owned hotel in a former mansion in the bustling old town of Bellagio. It’s an area characterized by pedestrian-only alleyways, winding stone staircases, and family-owned wine bars. Lake Como is shaped like an inverted Y, and GHVS sits in the middle of that Y, meaning unparalleled views of the Italian Alps to the north and pretty towns dotting the shoreline before disappearing into the mountains to the east and west. Book here.
Getting to Lake Como is actually very easy from Milan Airport. Public transport will take about 2 hours by train to Como, and then it’s easy to get to buses, ferries or taxis from there. A big advantage of staying at GHVS is that it is easy to get to via mass transit from Milan via high-speed train to a ferry or bus. My accommodations even connected me with a taxi to the airport on the way back which was only 1.5 hours, but fair warning – private cars are heavily discounted in dollars.
(JSYK: The author and her friend received free hotel accommodations, meals, and activities in exchange for her review.)
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Since Lake Como was such a bucket list spot for me, I wanted to recline everyone Way through stay in a place that bestows Italian grandeur and cinematic luxury. GHVS delivered in full. A historic mansion dating back to 1873, the hotel has been in the care of the Bucher family for over 100 years. What does that mean for me? One hundred years of practice makes hospitality perfect – aka you’re in for a world-class holiday. Imagine gold leaf ceilings, stone balconies, and ornate antique furniture in the lobby and ballrooms.
Upon entering my suite, I stooped to my private balcony to take in the view, which overlooked the meticulously landscaped gardens. A few yards away from that distance was the lake itself and the gigantic mountains covered with trees, the bottom of which were dotted with the villas of the rich and famous.
First things first, a balcony photo session:
Taking it with a sigh and beginning to believe I was actually in the middle of a postcard, I scanned my suite, which contained a Versaille-worthy sitting area, marble bathroom, and giant soaking tub.
If you can’t choose between direct lake access and a relaxed downtown setting, you won’t find a better location than GHVS. The villa is located on the periphery of Bellagio, which is the city’s largest, making it easy to spend a few hours shopping the quaint, family-owned storefronts. Take a short walk to the nearby villa and botanical garden, I Giardini di Villa Melzi, or spend the afternoon sipping wine in a local shop.
Well, back to the private beach – very few properties on the entire lake can boast that they have direct access to the lake via the beach and the enchanting pool. Since I didn’t have to choose between the two, I spent several hours each day moving between bodies of water. I swam to the wharf to enjoy the stunning view of the snow-capped Italian Alps almost illusory behind the glistening icy lake. After a few minutes of asking myself, Is this place real? I swam back to the pool area to get one of the hotel’s signature treats.
Have you even been to LC (Lake Como, ofc) if you didn’t go for a boat ride? The hotel treated my boyfriend and I to a cruise on the lake in an antique Venetian boat. Seeing the LC from the water is the best way to enjoy the lake – we drifted past iconic villas once used as movie sets and glimpsed old world towns set against the mountain range.
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni offers to book a special dinner called the Mistral Experience. My boyfriend and I were treated to the most romantic meal of our lives on our first night, which just so happened to be the most perfect sunset. Our table was placed on the edge of the outdoor terrace overlooking the lake. While I think (?) we chatted during that meal, I’m not entirely sure because we were both so fond of our surroundings.
Mistral chef, Ettore Bocchia – known for bringing to life molecular cuisine (read: the van-cy) to Italy in 2000 – won the restaurant a Michelin star in 2004. We had a tasting menu that included freshly caught LC fish, caviar and ice cream, all brilliantly paired with Italian wines.
As for the other memorable meals? I ate my midday meals at La Goletta by the pool or on my terrace. Basically, the week was a haze of lobster tagliatelle and summer truffles.
Remember those drinks I mentioned earlier? Despite the internet’s recent discovery of sbagliato (amazing), GHVS has been serving up aperitifs as their signature cocktail for ages. And JFYI, Italian bevs are the perfect accessory to any outfit: sbagliatos in a bikini, Negronis for a sexy pre-dinner dress, and bellinis for a dressy-yet-casual-and-maybe-slightly brunch suit. And let me introduce you to my new favorite drink: Limoncello Spritz. And if I learned anything on my trip, it’s that the pairing of citrus sap and Italian landscapes makes sense.
Katie is the Director of Digital Art at Cosmo Where she creates photos for the site and sometimes writes about travel, wine, and even why a portable bidet changed her life. She has a detailed Google map of the best bars and restaurants in each city, she firmly believes BSC She is the greatest sport of all, and is constantly redecorating her New York City apartment. Follow her on Instagram and TikTok.