A wishboned shape Lake where dreams really do come true…
Airport & transfer
Flying into Malpensa airport in Milan was straight forward and once through we were ready to get our sea plane up to the Lakes (if we’d won the lottery), taxi (if we wanted to waste money) so train it was!
Train details: The airport has train stations at terminal one and two and signs are clear though the ticket process wasn’t. Luckily someone was on hand to help or there is a desk. It was just 3 stops to Sorrano and then 11 to Como Nord Lago (we were staying in Como at the bottom of the lake, you will need the station closest to you as don’t underestimate how HUGE the lake is and how expensive taxis are round it. If doing this trip you will also need two separate tickets as the train from Sorrano is a regional train but both can be bought at the airport. It’s about an hour in total on the train but allow for 20 minutes change of platforms at Sorrano and note at Sorrano theres a screen with the train times below the platform, so don’t do what we did and get very confused just go down the stairs to find your next platform and remember to validate your ticket prior to boarding.
When we arrived in Como we were greeted with these wow views so decided to walk rather than taxi to the hotel. It’s a good 20-30 minutes but as we just had hand luggage it was worth it to take in how amazing it was to be away in the summer of 2020! But anytime these are magical views.
I would suggest taking the lake path to the hotel if you walk and turning left up to the hotel when you get to the village Olmo as the main road pathways are narrow and bumpy and less scenic.
I had booked the Hilton for a few reasons it was reasonably priced, their Covid information was clear, the location was perfect and of course…. it had a rooftop! On arrival it looks pretty standard and not a wow entrance but don’t let that fool you. Wait till you get on that roof!
The rooms were lovely and super clean – we hadn’t opted for a view or fancy room as we wouldn’t be there much. USB plugs by the beds and coffee machine! Two of my hotel must haves. Happy me.
The bathroom was cleverly separated so that steamy shower didn’t affect the ability to see in the mirror! Two sinks and loads of space!
We did have key cards but they also have a Hilton app where once you have checked in you can operate the lifts and unlock your room from your phone so no losing the cards or worse when you get all the way back to your room and they don’t work!
The hotel is quite small but airy and open so feels bigger – it’s the perfect base for Como and exploring the Lakes.
The Rooftop Pool
Located on the rooftop – 6th floor (note there’s one random lift that goes there or use the back stairs) other lifts stop at level 5. Stepping out you will not be disappointed. The hotel is set back over a street but it didn’t make a jot of difference to the views. Wow!
There is one thing to note about this pool. Its popularity. There’s no rushing to get your towels out at stupid o’clock and leaving them there and then cheekily reappearing 5 hours later, no this is a fair but tricky system. Doors open at 9am and I mean on the dot. The super bean tanners are there ready and waiting as space is limited.
There are approx 12-15 loungers on the deck overlooking the pool – the prime spot. Then either side are a variety of sunbeds, sofas and deck chairs (also double up for the bar at night). All have umbrellas for shade – weirdly hardly anyone used them. You are assigned your spot on a first come first served basis then you can bask there till 6pm when it turns into the place for sunset drinks and dinner.
By the pool there are tables with buttons to call for Prosecco and pizza, this was dangerously fabulous! And as we are in Covid times all staff wore masks but actually no restrictions on numbers in the pool.
If you arrive much later than 9.45 you may miss out on anywhere to sit and have the option of going on a waiting list as the sun moves so do the sun worshipers so more availability later on. So if you want a pool day don’t have that lie in! (Besides 9am is the best time for that perfect shot as no one is yet in the water!)
Breakfast is sadly not served upstairs but down in an small restaurant which if it rains they can’t coup with capacity (as outdoor seating is a wash out) and again a wait list will appear but they are quick and really kind.
Just wow. Same views as from the pool but something about putting on a dress and sitting looking out over the lakes. We had lunch and a dinner sat up here just taking in the awesome views. The food happily matched the view – with equally incredible food.
Lunch was elegant and chilled with pool activity behind us. Whereas dinner setting was even more breathtaking with soft music and vibes. (Same menu for both.) Oh and they have fun novelties like candy floss over your strawberries they burn off! Just makes it all more quirky and fabulous!
Visiting areas around the Lake
Known for its silk, Como is the most famous area, with the lake named after it but not always the most popular destination. Bellagio and Varenna seeming to be the go to towns. However sitting at the bottom of the wishbones shaped lake it was a gorgeous little town to be based in. And only 15-20 minutes stroll from the hotel. So I’d fully recommend it.
The Palace Hotel faces the lake and is prime place for watching the world go by at their terrace or even for alfresco dinner.
The Cathedral of Como Duomo di towers over the winding streets with the magnificent mountainous as a backdrop. There’s a string of restaurants to admire this different view from. The Pietro Resturant had excellent service and food and not as overpriced as feared for its more tourist location (the tuna and tiramisu was incredible!)
Oh and in Como, there’s a famous gelato ice cream shop … Gelateria Lariana – but be prepared to queue!
This village is opposite the hotel. ‘Village’ is probably a bit of a strong word but it has a stunning Villa – free to enter (like a stately home) and gardens. There is also a lido for those in hotels without pools (where you can jump in the lake) with a cafe and then a gorgeous little restaurant that felt more like Greece than Como. A must for lunch, if not dinner too if you are staying locally.
We took a ferry up to Bellagio to see why Vegas named its hotel after this place and to spot the infamous Mr Clooneys home! Would have loved the private boat but it was literally hundreds of pounds and as much as I love a boat I’d rather splash on one I can jump into the ocean from. So ferry it was but it’s still not super cheap.
Note there are two types- slow (batallo) or a fast boat (hydrofoil) The slow takes 2 hrs up to Bellagio, fast just 40 minutes but there’s only a few a day so do plan! (And don’t go buy your ticket, get your seat withoit checking you are on the right one Tickets are bought at the ferry (get there 15 mins before due to the queue and Covid means less people allowed on and temperature checks). However if you want to take the seanic slow route then there’s a little bar and open deck to take it all in on. The fast ferry is all inside and no bar oh and don’t go with a hangover!!
Belligo known as the pearl of the lake and the third largest town and is charming and more bustly than Como – for shopping head up to Via Giuseppe Garibaldi. We decamped at the Hotel Du Lac opposite the ferry terminal – all that ferrying was thirsty work oh and it just so happened to have a rooftop! 😉
Lunch over looking the ferry port was really reasonable and delicious and a drink upstairs that’s usually for hotel guests in the day was utterly stunning. It opens to everyone late afternoon with a bar, DJ for sunset drinks. Full details of rooftop can be found here.
One night weventured up the left hand side of the lake to Villa d’Este for a pre dinner drink (worth noting at this point how expensive taxis are – £25 for a 10 minute journey) But worth every penny as this place was this was elegance on speed. I felt like I was in a movie. Opulent and overwhelming it was just beautiful.
It also has a pool that floats on the lake, gardens and the most expensive drinks ever but amazing how you stretch one out to enjoy the atmosphere and view. The place is like a village in itself with all the amenities you could wish for, definitely a flop and relax no need to go anywhere hotel. One for when I win the lottery!
We however were exploring so then hopped back in another over priced cab up to Una Finestra sul Lago for dinner. What wonderful little hideaway over looking the lake… it felt like a rooftop! Reasonably priced and super lovely staff could honestly could have stayed drinking till sunrise!
If you are thinking of Lake Como – do it! It has a calm and serenity (and George Clooney!) to escape that everyday noise.
For details of the 3 rooftops in Lake Como I visited click here
(What I didn’t have time for that was recommended… next time!
- Crotto dei Platani
- La Vista restaurant at Albergo Milano (hotel) in Varenna)