Well, this place had a lot to live up to. Its reputation is huge and having been fortunate enough over the years to stay in some pretty nice places, I wondered if we would think it was worth the hype and the (considerably) more money that it costs to stay there.
Based on our 48 hours I would say "yes!" We had booked a corner room with views of both the lake and the gardens, but were upgraded to a top junior suite with full lake view - no idea why, but it was a nice surprise. It was in the Queen's building, which I can say is perfectly good - no special need to be in the main building that I can think of, apart from maybe the thrill of walking down its staircase to dinner - rather grand, to say the least.
The food and drink were superb. We dressed up for the first night to eat in the restaurant (laid up outside since the weather was good) and the second night we ate at The Grill, still great food but no need for jacket and tie. Service was the best I have ever received, and there is a huge number of staff to guests. All seem very attentive and very much on the ball. Being a Brit perhaps, I was a little uncomfortable with the tipping culture. I saw an American guy walk ten paces to a sunbed with a pool attendant carrying his two towels. He gave a 10 Euro tip for that 10 seconds of "work". Not untypical from what I saw. The guy took the tip, but to their credit the staff did not hang around looking for tips. The majority of guests seemed to be American, and of course their tipping culture is huge. (I am more comfortable with the policy of, say, Chewton Glen, which costs a fortune but the staff are not allowed to accept tips).
Just how expensive is Villa D'Este? Well, bottled water is 9 Euros, a club sandwich is 30 Euros, and a Gin and Tonic is 19 Euros. Even after the free upgrade our bill for two nights was over 3,000 Euros, but that did include a two hour boat hire on the lake for 170 Euros (rent one of their boats and drive yourself around, it's great fun). We didn't hit the wine either!
The gardens are stunning, the pool remarkable, the main building like a palace inside, and the service exceptional. Our only gripes related to the small number of parents who exert absolutely no control over their young children. I felt sad seeing whining 8 year old brats with their feet up on the beautiful sofas in the main building, crying when they didn't get what they wanted, disinterested mums filing their nails and texting on their BlackBerrys. Honestly, why take young kids to a place like this? Of course they're going to be bored - they'd prefer a water park or Disneyworld. Luckily we were able to escape the majority of the brat incidents!
We felt sad to leave even after just 2 days, and that is probably the best endorsement we can give. It really is a fabulous place and I hope we are blessed enough in life to be able to afford to go back soon!
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Experience the splendor, the grandeur, the intrigue and the magic of Villa d'Este- an opulent hotel overlooking glorious Lake Como. Hailed as one of the best hotels in the world by Travel & Leisure, Condé Nast Traveler and Forbes Traveler, this famous resort destination has been widely praised for its beautiful gardens, exquisite cuisine, gala celebrations, impeccable décor and extraordinary hospitality. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Villa d`Este Hotel Cernobbio
- Hotel d Este
- d Este Hotel Cernobbio
- Villa Deste Lake Como
- Villa D'Este Lake Como/Cernobbio, Italy