Audi at Lake Como

Modern history


We drive to Italy’s Lake Como in the Audi A1 to visit the ultra-hip, all-suite
Il Sereno hotel, nestling elegantly on the banks of calm, pristine waters

Boats on Lake Como

The Il Sereno Hotel at Lake Como

Like a grande dame draped in pearls and floating through an historic Italian villa in a cloud of Chanel N°5, Lake Como has an old-school, beguiling charm that has lured the likes of George Clooney and Donatella Versace to its steep shores.

This Y-shaped lake in the Lombardy region of northern Italy spans 56 square miles, so it’s an ideal place to carve out some privacy. And what a place to disappear in, with the jagged, snow-capped peaks of the Italian Alps looming above the vast expanse of glassy water.

Close to the water’s edge, elegant houses painted sienna, yellow and ochre cluster on the shore; dotted among them the luxurious villas in which many aspire to holiday – grand, pillared buildings draped in wisteria that date back hundreds of years.

It is this setting that makes the minimalist monolith that is the Il Sereno such a surprise. The hotel, built on the lake’s southeastern shore in the village of Torno, opened in March this year and is a radical departure from Como’s traditional aesthetic.

Il Sereno's Chef picking fresh herbs

Food at the Il Sereno Hotel

Built on top of an existing arched stone boathouse, Il Sereno is the vision of Spanish-born architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, who is famous for her modern, graphic designs. The hotel has just 30 rooms, each with a terrace overlooking the lake.

However, the natural materials of its construction – local grey stone, wood and copper – help to soften the angular geometry of the building, so it feels intriguing rather than imposing. The hotel’s dramatic impact is best sensed from the water – or from the comfort of our Audi A1 when we pull up outside.

Il Sereno looking out onto Lake Como

close up of boat moored on Lake Como

On the banks of Lake Como

We notice a man in white overalls on the grassy verge above the infinity pool, brandishing a pair of silver scissors. It’s executive chef Raffaele Lenzi selecting herbs from the garden for the lunch service.

‘If you have a hotel with 100 rooms, it’s difficult to pay attention to all the details, but here we can,’ he says. Lenzi was also attracted to the lake by the prospect of working with Michelin-starred chef Andrea Berton, who runs Il Sereno’s Ristorante Berton Al Lago.

It’s little wonder Lake Como has long attracted the great and the good – and will continue to do so. Il Sereno will simply provide visitors with a contemporary alternative in this historic hideaway. Written by Helene Dancer. Photographs by Finn Beales

 

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