Casually mention that you’re traveling to Lake Como for a work-related trip and someone will inevitable mention the Clooneys. You know them, right? The power couple that’s impossibly attractive — and recently procreated a pair of twins. Unless you’ve been living under a rock the past decade or don’t horde US Weekly magazines, you’d know that George and Amal own a summer home on the Lake: an 18th-century mansion by the name of Villa Oleandra.
My work trip was not to find George and Amal, but instead to visit a hotel that’s fit for such a couple.
I flew into Milan and made the one-hour drive to Lake Como. It’s no secret when you arrive. Everything feels fancier. More beautiful. It drips in wealth. It’s fit for royalty and celebrities — but accessible to the commoner like myself. Isn’t that what we’re all searching for in a getaway?
Spoiler alert: I did not find the Clooneys. I did, however, vacation like one. Here’s how:
Stay in an Ultra-Luxury Hotel
If there were ever a hotel fit for stars, it’s the Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Built in 1910, the hotel is now owned by a third-generation family member and famed for its position on the lake — in addition to being the finest property on the water. (Rates from $525 per night.)
Upon arrival, I dropped my bags, picked my jaw up from upon the floor, and headed to the spa.
I’m no stranger to this whole travel thing — it’s my job, after all. And, if there’s one thing that counteracts a long-haul flight in coach and helps to nearly eliminate jet-lag, it’s a post-flight spa treatment. T Spa, at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, offers a heat experience in the basement, with steam rooms, and lake-view sauna. I would soon learn that everything on the property has a view of the Lake Como, including the indoor infinity pool, bar, and breakfast area.
Rooms here are each unique and feature antique furnishings that feel unfussy and elegant (I believe that the Clooneys and their twins would appreciate a rooftop suite with a large outdoor terrace, Jacuzzi, and discreet private butler). My Lakeview Prestige Room was complete with a marble bathroom and terrace overlooking a swimming pool that floats upon the lake. There’s a man-made beach and swanky little lake bar below, too.
The hotel’s restaurant L’Escale Trattoria & Wine Bar surely feels like something one of those friendly I’m-okay-going-gray celebrities would love. It’s elegant but completely relaxed with Italian hospitality for days. Imagine aperitifs in the bar and homemade pasta in the restaurant. Naturally, there are fine wines.
Buzz Around on a Boat
The following day I was picked up by one of the two wooden speedboats owned by the hotel—it’s impossible not to imagine a celeb driving the same sort. Purchase an Italian silk scarf, tie it around your head, and get the perfect Instagram photo on the lake.
Or do as a local and hop upon a sailboat. Bellagio Sailing offers easy daytime spins around the waters navigated by Captain Carlo, which includes an aperitif and wine. The Stai Serena is a Philippe Stark-designed yacht equipped with three handsome cabins. The cockpit is ideal for lounging and drinking Champagne.
For equally elegant land transportation, the hotel has its very own Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider that guests can rent.
Finally, Villa Hop.
One could spend an entire trip at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo — there’s really no reason to leave with the myriad dining, drinking, and spa-ing. But, to get a true sense of wealth upon Lake Como, one would be remiss not to tour a couple of villas, which offers an opportunity to travel back in time to experience the life of the Italian elite.
Directly next door to the hotel lies Villa Carlotta. Built at the end of 17th century by the Milanese marquis Giorgio Clerici, the villa is now home to a museum and botanical garden with a variety of camellias, century-old cedars and sequoias, and over 150 varieties of rhododendrons and azaleas.
Constructed by Franciscan monks (a portion of the monastery remains), Villa Balbianello was most famously owned by Count Guido Monzino, an eccentric explorer with an affinity for art, adventure, and secret passage ways. Today, it’s a popular site for movies and weddings.
Guests of Grand Hotel Tremezzo can arrange a tour of the Villa Sola Cabiati and the Villa Passalacqua, if not occupied by guests at the time. The Belle Époque villas feature palatial room upon room of impressive art collections and stunning gardens that overlook Lake Como — with plenty of space for your new celeb friends.