Nothing really exemplifies the height of European chicness than swanning around Italy’s picturesque Lake Como in a speedboat. With the pastel villas gracefully hugging the shores of the narrow lake, this is the domain of James Bond, of George Clooney both in real life and in Ocean’s Twelve, and of numerous Italian film masterpieces. Just in time for the height of summer, a new hotel appears! and opened its doors August 1 – Il Sereno Lago di Como.
A spinoff of the exclusive Le Sereno in Saint Barthélemy, the hotel is a gleaming expanse of modernity perched right at the water’s edge. Instead of neoclassical facades, crushed velvet and priceless antiques, the aesthetics is decidedly modern. Spanish wunderdesigner Patricia Urquiola was tapped by owner Luis Contreras and given free reign to splash her personality, with two mandates: an open concept and using as many local artisans as possible.
Therefore, nearly all the furniture comes from Italian designers – from the top-end of the spectrum, including B&B Italia, Cassina and Molteni – mixing together with custom designs by Milan-based Urquiola. Most are manufactured locally, with the wooden tables built in Bostwana being a notable exception. The lobby is dominated by a 7 metre walnut wood staircase designed to appear suspended in mid-air, anchoring a space free of pillars and walls that has a wonderfully airy feel. The vibe is vaguely retro – slightly 60s Mad Men, slightly 70s Italian arthouse film – but filtered through a lens of modern sophistication, across Il Sereno’s 37 suites and villas.
This is Lake Como though, and time spent indoors is time not spent lakeside. Plush couches and nest chairs in ivory and wood tones line the main terrace, with perfect panoramic views of the lake backdropped with a vertical garden created by Patrick Blanc, Le Mirroir Vert du Lac (The Lake’s Green Mirror), made of 2,000 plants of 130 species. At the water’s edge, Il Sereno’s two motorboats await those fancying zipping on the water, designed by Urquiola and crafted by the boatbuilding experts at the 250-year-old Cantiere Ernesto Riva. Speed up and down the lake with the wind in your hair, just as all the other glitterati are. Is there a better way to enjoy a European summer? We think not.