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Italy, Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como

Hardeep Singh Kohli
18 November 2016

Over 100 years since it opened as the first purpose-built hotel on the shores of Lake Como, Grand Hotel Tremezzo continues to innovate. Hardeep Singh Kohli is dazzled

THE LOWDOWN:
‘When you write the story of two happy lovers, let the story be set on the banks of Lake Como,’ said Franz Liszt. Clearly the Hungarian virtuoso knew a thing or two about beauty. Myriad mentions in art and literature leave you in no doubt about the momentous majesty of Lake Como, so one imagines there must have been no small amount of pressure on the first purpose-built hotel to appear on the side of such an object of outstanding beauty. Grand Hotel Tremezzo achieved the momentous majesty required to match the milieu.

Opened in 1910, this authentically art nouveau building is almost more beautiful than the luscious Lombardy landscape. Almost. There is an inescapable romance about the open, airy communal spaces, keeping you constantly connected to the Lake. Its the sort of place memories are made (Greta Garbo used to come here to dine in consummate elegance), vows renewed and genuflected proposals of life-long love uttered. Walking back after dinner, I spotted a handsome guest kneeling down over dinner; I assumed a contact lens or mobile phone had been dropped. But, no, his vision was clear as he proposed to his beloved.

While Grand Tremezzo holds its history dear – the hotel now in the hands of only its third owners, each an Italian family – it embraces modernity without compromising, class, as evidenced by the seamless integration of an opulent new spa. You feel each and every one of the five stars bestowed upon it but without that dreaded sense of the stuffy and over-bearing.

The 90 rooms range from the luxurious entry level Park View through to the lake-facing balconied suites (reminiscent of Noel Coward’s Private Lives) to newly added extravagant rooftop suites sensitively built into the Tremezzo’s parapet. A remarkable place in a remarkable location. It’s the most grand of hotels.

THE GOOD:
Brand new, the hotel’s gloriously appointed spa has already won multiple awards – worth the trip alone.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:
Given its size, the hotel somewhat shadows and dwarfs any of the nearby local cafes, bars and restaurants. A post-prandial stroll garnered almost universal disappointment, so you really do need a car to get about (should your chauffeur be busy on the school run…).

THE VERDICT:
Five star hotels often overbear, somewhat stuffed with their own self importance. There is a laid back attentiveness here, as if the quiet confidence of Lake Como has inveigled its way into the ambience. If you like opulence that isn’t over the top, this is the place for you.

BOOK IT:
From €450 (plus 10% VAT) per night. Via Provinciale Regina, 8, 22016 Tremezzo (+39 0344 42491; grandhoteltremezzo.com)