Il Sereno, Lake Como, Italy

Il Sereno, Lake Como, Italy

far cry from old-school Lombardian hotels, Il Sereno is pioneering a new
way to stay in Lake Como. With enormous windows blending into the
hillside, this 30-room minimalist boutique property could easily
accommodate a Bond villain or Queen Bey.

It’s the second hotel in the Contreras family and one in which
Spanish architect and designer Patricia Urquiola has paid homage to
the surroundings with natural materials including glass, copper,
stone and wood. Her vision is complemented by a series of verticle
gardens and plant installations by botanist Patrick Blanc, creating
an overall feeling of warmth that’s often lacking in modern

Guests and well-dressed locals fill the space. There’s a
come-as-you-are mentality – in the Michelin-starred restaurant you
could as easily be seated next to someone who shares a stylist with
Lady Gaga as someone wearing jeans and a t-shirt.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to drive one of the hotel’s
three custom-built Cantiere Ernesto Riva boats – there’s no better
way to soak up the serenity of Lake Como.


Each room has a view of the lake (albeit some better than
others) and most have a terrace, with enormous floor-to-ceiling
windows on which you’ll never want to draw the curtains. Patricia
Urquiola’s design has even the smallest details carefully tuned.
Expect a well-lit vanity mirror and area to do make-up as well as
spacious walk-in closets. Roomy bathrooms are equipped with rather
intense Japanese loos. Rumour has it that several guests loved
their bathtubs so much that they’ve ordered ones for their own
homes – the ultimate souvenir. The Lario suite is also wheelchair

The minibar is all-inclusive, except alcohol.

What’s for breakfast?

Breakfast fare is of the standard variety – juices, pastries,
avocado on toast, eggs any way you like – but done exceptionally
well. We recommend the ricotta with berries, honey and roasted
almonds. The lakeside Ristorante Berton Al Lago is beautiful with
indoor and (often heated) outdoor spaces, but it’s no problem if
you’re unable to tear yourself away from your room. With room
service available at no additional cost, there’s little better than
starting the day dining on your private terrace.

How about lunch and dinner?

Lunch is a relaxed affair taken either by the heated swimming
pool on a lounger or in the restaurant. There’s food to satisfy a
range of palates with sautéed salmon, club sandwiches and homemade
ice cream making appearances on the menu.

Berton Al Lago comes to life at night, when locals pull up in
their custom-built Riva boats for chef Andrea Berton’s
Michelin-starred creations. Opt for a nine-course tasting menu with
wine pairing or go à la carte. While dishes offer the best
haute-cuisine, portion sizes remain generous. Ingredients are
seasonal and regional – arctic char, for instance, is fished
directly from Lake Como. We recommend lining your stomach with all
the vegetarian amuse-bouche before ordering the saffron rice with

Is there are bar?

There’s an indoor bar on the ground floor, but cocktail hour can
be enjoyed across the hotel. The mocktails aren’t just for
tee-totallers; the Allegra concoction made with rooibos comes with
our seal of approval.


Take a dip in Il Sereno’s outdoor heated swimming pool which
overlooks the lake. Alternatively hit the gym (we’d be very
impressed if you do) or chill out in the Valmont Spa.

If you do one activity during your trip, make sure it’s renting
one of hotel’s boats. You don’t need a boating license in Italy, so cruising along Lake
Como is a glorious way to see some of the nearby villages. Top tip:
bring a picnic.

Things you should know

The hotel is both dog- (an extra €200) and kid-friendly (cots
are free and an extra child’s bed in a room is €150). That being
said, the hotel is more suited to couples than families due to lack
of connecting rooms and the Zen vibe of the property.

A short boat ride away, Il Sereno’s older sister property, Villa
Pliniana, was once visited by the likes of Napoleon, Byron and
Liszt. Now available for private hire, it could be yours – albeit
for a hefty price tag.

Within a short walk you will find…

Many guests are so satisfied with the property, the don’t
venture beyond its walls. If you do, you’ll find yourself in the
middle of the Renaissance town of Torno. Head to the port and catch
a ferry to one of the small towns nearby. We recommend going
travelling away from Como towards charming towns such as