Many of my posts allude to, or often explicitly state, the proximity of Lake Como to Lugano in Switzerland. Lake Lugano and Lugano city do indeed make a very satisfying day trip while you are staying at Lake Como, but when I can, I choose to spend four or five days in Lugano- a combined visit is, for me, the perfect mix. My hotel of choice in Lugano is the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola. However, I have to honestly state here and now, that I have never stayed anywhere else in Lugano. I originally chose this hotel via the internet for the first visit my mother and I made to the area. I must admit that I don’t think I could have chosen better. Built as the Winter residence of the Russian noble family Von Ritter in 1880, it is a villa of outstanding beauty located at the northern end of Lugano bay at the foot of the spectacular Mount Bré, which can be reached by cable car – station ‘Cassarate’ – opposite the side entrance of the hotel.
The photos here are just a small indication of how they spoiled us. Breakfast on the balcony (all the rooms face the park and lake), loungers at the spa, on the lawns and at the lakeside lido; dinner on the terrace at Le Relais. The grounds are exquisite and afford peace and privacy throughout. Sculptures and art work can be found inside and outside. There is always something to amuse your senses. The lido is an unexpected pleasure too; you have to cross the road to reach it but once you are there you feel like you are in your own private club.
Don’t get me started on the food! The first time we visited the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola my mother and I just had room and breakfast. We aren’t generally “big eaters” but sincerely appreciate good food. We considered that a huge breakfast and a late, light lunch would be perfect for us. However, through talking to other guests who clearly returned year after year and who chose the half board option, our second visit included dinner as well. And we could hardly believe how delicious and adventurous the dinner menus were. There were choices for each course so the difficult part was deciding what to order. We ate everything they put in front of us! But that wasn’t the best part; the best part was the service. I cannot state how highly I regard the service, care and attention to detail shown by the staff at the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola. It truly is exceptional! Although we have never actually tried it, the gastronomic restaurant Gallery Arté al Lago celebrated 13 years of fine dining in 2015 and has been awarded one Michelin star. Perhaps something for the next visit……
So there you have it – stunning location on the shores of Lake Lugano; beautiful, classic hotel in exotic gardens; extraordinary cuisine; impressive service; fascinating history; magnificent art. What more could you ask for?