Kind of on the spur of the moment, we had decided to take in a bit of the Locarno Film Festival and since all hotels in that area were fully booked, we stayed here.
When we arrived we were OFFERED an upgrade to a junior suite and having been shown the room we accepted it with thanks. While looking out from one of our two balconies we happened to notice that the waiters in the open-air terrace restaurant were very formally dressed and it dawned on us that one of us had only brought dressy shorts, so to be on the safe side we inquired about the dress code. The restaurant said all was okay as long as all guests wore long trousers (it was 89 degrees F). So, we called reception and they seemed surprised and promised to investigate. After ten minutes or so, the verdict was in: one of us could appear in shorts, but "it would be preferred" if we both wore proper trousers.
We spent a bit of time thinking the whole thing through and decided we didn't want to be a nuisance and to walk a mile or so into town to have dinner with regular people. We were somewhat annoyed because the website talked a lot about relaxation and a family feeling and we hadn't quite grasped that they had a dress code.
We nearly left it at that, but later that night, our internet connection dropped (first mine, then my partner's) and it was impossible to reconnect using the original password and user ID which had been handed to us. Having exhausted the possibilities for further work/entertainment (they had two cute miniature TV sets), we decided to make it an early night. Well, getting into bed, our mattresses (two twin beds pushed together which drifted apart as we climbed into bed) made annoying squeaking sounds. A squeaking mattress in this most noble hotel -- it was the first such mattress we had encountered since boarding school.
The following morning we had breakfast in the open-air restaurant (shorts were okay) and we were served properly but without a smile and greeting. It started to grate. When we walked to the buffet a second time and found that the parma ham had run out and been substituted with (for us) unidentifiable cold cuts, I asked the captain what it might be and he replied in two syllables "tur-key" , seemingly disappointed at our failure to recognize this "haute cuisine" item.
Still, we were going to let things be, but when we were checked out and no one bothered to ask how our stay had been, the camel's back was broken. After a brief run down to the very kind and friendly receptionist (probably a hotel school student), she referred us to HH The General Manager who ushered me into an official-looking room.
As I repeated the run-down, he very elegantly stated that the hotel wished to maintain "a certain standard", offering no apology. As I continued with my list, the squeaking mattress raised an eyebrow and then the GM continued to fold his hands in front of his suit, smiling condescendingly and all-knowingly. After some time, he opened the door of the meeting room, indicating that the "audience" was over. I could not resist telling him that it was now clear why the waiters at the restaurant behaved the way they did.
I suppose that we should have anticipated that one needed a pair of trousers to eat in what resembles a poolside restaurant in the Swiss tropics in the evening heat of 89 degrees. Fine, mea culpa, BUT the way the GM dealt with the complaints was totally off.
The property is manicured and fastidious. The bathrooms are immaculate. Everything except the Wi-Fi connection and the squeaking mattresses is as deliberate, purposeful, elegant and posh as the clientele to whom we may have done irreparable harm with our lowly presence.
So, if you would like to enjoy this earthly paradise, please be serious, whisper and for goodness' sake make sure you dressed to the hilt to partake of an evening meal in the pristine terraced restaurant. It's okay to smoke at the table though -- it is an open-air place after all.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- The Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, member of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, is the only five star superior Hotel in Lugano and enjoys a privileged position inside a large sub-tropical park and with a beautiful view towards the lake. The elegant villa, built in 1860, combines the charm of a former era with the comfort and the care of a modern luxury hotel. The hotel offers 78 rooms, of exceptional charm, individually styled, provided with every modern comfort and with stunning park and/or lake views, balcony, terrace or loggia. All rooms, of which 28 are Junior Suites and Suites, have individual air-conditioning, and provide the most modern comforts. Restaurant Le Relais – 14 points GaultMillau-: In an elegant setting, our Executive Chef Bertogna, suggests a light and innovative Mediterranean cuisine, a balance between colours and delicate flavours that you won’t forget. In season lunch and dinner are served on the outdoor terrace, overlooking the garden and the lake. Restaurant Gallery Arté al Lago -1 Michelin Star, 16 points GaulMillau - :A theme restaurant inside an art gallery. Restaurant renewed and embellished through artworks and sculptures of contemporary artists of international stature who alternate every six months. Right on the shore of the lake, the Restaurant Gallery Arté al Lago offers a magnificent and unique view over the gulf of Lugano. Signature dishes are entirely new and original from our Executive Chef Frank Oerthle. Top notch are the facilities offered for meeting and events: any event assumes a special distinction - a grand banquet or less formal luncheon, business meeting or conference, private party, dinner or wedding up to 120 people. A large and impressive venue is the Sala delle Palme, set to recall an oriental atmosphere with its Indian Rajastan panoplies and Afganistan doors dated XIX century. All our venues are appreciated for the day light and the unique ornamentation and for the unclenching rooms, private sitting-rooms, conference halls of different sizes such as Le Pavillon connected to the park trough the outdoor veranda, La Sala Delle Colonne, Sala Letizia, Sala Carlotta and Sala Ottavia, the Biblioteca and Sala Kwium.Villa Castagnola has a spectacular indoor swimming-pool with panoramic views over the gardens, a Wellness Corner, a Clarins Beauty Corner, a Danilo Hairstyling, a table-tennis room, outdoor hard court tennis fields and a private lake terrace. The Hotel is well connected to Lugano’s railway station and Airport (only 7Km to the Lugano-Agno Airport), and has easy access to the Motorway. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Grand Hotel Castagnola
- Grand Hotel Lugano