In every image you see of Lake Como, Northern Italy’s most luxurious spot, it looks like the destination was plucked from a mood board made to depict heaven itself: deep blue water hemmed in by the snow-capped Alps, colourful houses dotting the water, and elegant Riva boats that zip across from side to side.
It’s no wonder George and Amal Clooney not only chose Lake Como to marry in, but live in, with the family spending most of their time in Clooney’s 18th century Italian villa. Of course, it’s not just the Clooney’s who can’t get enough of Lake Como. The area has long been a beloved holiday spot for the rich and famous, poets and artists, due to the plethora of stunning hotels dotting the waterfront, one of which is Hotel Villa Cipressi.
Hotel Villa Cipressi is located in Varenna, one of Lake Como’s most romantic towns, complete with steep narrow cobbled streets which are dotted with cafes and restaurants along the water. The historic hotel is made up of three stunning buildings: the oldest dates back to the 1400s, the second was built in the 1600s, and the third was constructed in the 1800s. Recent renovations have enhanced the three villas’ original features, keeping its elaborate marble Corinthian columns, intricately decorated coffered ceilings, and a beautiful marble and wrought-iron staircase, which many a bride has walked down.
The rooms are spread out over each three site with most having picturesque views looking out over to the lake, and high ceilings creating a feeling of space and relaxation—the perfect place to have a pennichella (the Italian version of a siesta) once you’ve spent the morning exploring the lakeside town.
Though the inside is undoubtedly stunning, Hotel Villa Cipressi’s most beautiful asset is found in its backyard, with its famed botanical garden harbouring endemic plants as well as rare species from all over the world. Though it’s open to the public to explore during the day—and therefore can get quite busy in the high season—the garden is all yours to enjoy once gates close, complete with gorgeous benches overlooking the water. Interestingly, the garden is the only one in the region to house cactuses and succulents due to the peculiar location of Varenna: the surrounding mountains together with the Lake has generated the perfect microclimate for the plant species to come to life.
In lieu of a pool, guests have VIP access to the lake via a set of huge cast-iron gate doors which open to the water through the property’s famed botanical garden. Swimming, even in winter, is heavenly.
If it’s a spa experience you’re after, an elevated pathway leads across to sister hotel Hotel Royal Victoria, which has a private spa with sauna, steam room and multi-sensory showers that guests can rent out.
Though there isn’t a designated restaurant within Hotel Villa Cipressi, guests can again easily pop over to Hotel Royal Victoria for a table at Victoria Grill—a lovely and refreshingly informal place to eat lunch or dinner. Meanwhile, drinks at sunset—Aperol Spritz’s, of course!—can be enjoyed on one of the panoramic terraces of the hotel.
If there’s one place worth adding to your bucket list, it’s Lake Como. Even better if it’s to stay at Hotel Villa Cipressi. And better yet, if you’re arriving by private boat in true Clooney style. There’s even a private dock at the hotel for that. Bellissimo!