Lady Of The Lake: Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como
Located on the shores of one most Italy’s most picturesque stretches of water, Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como blends Italian and Asian elegance in a breathtaking historic location. We explore the property…
When George Clooney bought the historic Villa L’Oleandra on Lake Como in 2001, the area and its surroundings garnered renewed global attention. Pictures of Hollywood stars arriving on retro Riva speedboats to attend lavish parties cemented the reputation of the lakeside community and its shore as one of Europe’s most sought-after destinations.
The popularity and exclusivity of the area, however, date back to Roman times, when its green lakeshore was frequented by aristocrats and artists. Surrounded by impressive scenery and overlooking the distant Rhaetian Alps, it’s no surprise that more recently, many of the area’s sumptuous villas, mostly built between the 16th and 19th centuries, have been transformed into upscale hotels and holiday homes.
Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como
Housed in the 18th-century Villa Roccabruna, and surrounded by dreamlike botanical gardens, Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como is one of the latest additions to the area’s array of ultra-luxury hotels. Located in the village of Blevio, just five minutes by car from the centre of Como town, the property combines elegant buildings in exquisitely tended gardens with panoramic views across the lake, with hiking trails in close proximity.
When the Hong Kong-based group took over the property, locals greeted the news enthusiastically. In its previous life as CastaDiva Hotel, the resort’s interiors resembled the life and career of one of its original owners, celebrated Italian soprano Giuditta Pasta, with pompous furniture and details inspired by baroque architecture dominating the atmosphere. But when the extensively renovated property opened in the spring of 2019, it was clear that a breath of fresh air had come to the lake.
While celebrating and accentuating the original features of the historic building, famed designer Eric Egan and his studio focused on light and contemporary interiors and opened up the building to breathtaking lake views with imposing floor-to-ceiling windows.
Egan, who’s originally from Chicago but has worked and lived in Italy for years, gave the majestic property a new life by integrating nostalgic components from the Italian economic boom of the 1950s, as well as classic terrazzo floors, Murano glass and Asian touches.
Throughout the 21 guestrooms, 52 suites, two private villas and communal spaces of Villa Roccabruna, details such as paintings on Japanese cotton by Milan-based Japanese artist Shuhei Matsuyama, reproductions of antique Chinese screens and vintage Chinese wallpapers stylishly honour Mandarin Oriental’s heritage.
All these elements are in perfect harmony with the dramatic scenery of Lake Como and its longstanding reputation as a symbol of subtle elegance and exude a contemporary sensibility that reflects both Italy’s eclectic architectural history and the cosmopolitan evolution of the area as a global destination.
Nestled within an extensive garden, the accommodations, which consist of nine separate structures with Villa Roccabruna as the centrepiece, provide guests with plenty of peace and privacy. Some renovations of the private villas and suites were commissioned to different international architects, a choice that contributes to the hotel’s diverse range of offerings and experiences.
On the outside, not much has changed since Giuditta Pasta was singing, living and spending time at the villa with fellow intellectuals, including composer Gioacchino Rossini, the writer Alessandro Manzoni and the French novelist Stendhal. A stroll through the park, in fact, underlines the fact that the gardens and the building’s facade have been preserved for more than two centuries according to the neoclassical standards that characterise the area’s uninterrupted views.
New additions to the botanical park include a luxurious and highly photogenic floating swimming pool, the trendy Pool Bar and the one-Michelin-star restaurant L’Aria, housed in a lakefront building behind floor-to-ceiling windows. Once again, the contemporary design of these facilities coexists with traditional architectural features and natural elements, such as a 200-year-old Lebanese cedar tree.
As a quintessential feature of the group’s properties around the world, the hotel’s spa has already garnered Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como a spot on the global wellness map. Combining treatments inspired by the lake’s pristine waters with a blend of Asian therapies, the spa has been awarded World’s Best New Hotel Spa in 2020 and Italy’s Best Hotel Spa in 2021 respectively, by the World Spa Awards.
Whether it’s for a stay, a meal, a spa day or a sunset aperitivo, Mandarin Oriental, Lago di Como is a must-visit spot for anyone exploring the Lombardy region. Much like its location, it’s already synonymous with impeccable taste and timeless elegance. Most importantly, it’s a symbol of the enduring efforts to preserve and elevate the aesthetic that makes Lake Como one of the most charming places in the world.