Hotel Review: Lake Como, Italy – Villa d’Este vs. Grand Hotel Tremezzo

(Villa d’Este with view of Lake Como)

We were torn about where to stay during our visit to Lake Como, Italy.  There are so many gorgeous options, we simply couldn’t choose. Major flip-floppiness!  So we split our time between the Grand Hotel Tremezzo, and the famous Villa d’Este. Boy, am I glad we experienced both. We got to taste two very different styles of accommodation.

Here are the pros and cons of Villa d’Este, compared to the Grand Hotel Tremezzo:


  • If you go during the shoulder season (we were there in October 2016), you may be able to score a complimentary upgrade. We got upgraded into a large suite with a view of the lake. The Tremezzo, by comparison, was pretty packed though it was the shoulder season. So at the Tremezzo, we’d already booked a room with a lake view, but it was small-ish if you compare the room size to the Villa d’Este. At the Tremezzo, there were definitely moments when we bumped into each other in the narrow path between the bed and the desk. Not so at the Villa d’Este.
  • The Villa d’Este has sumptuous rooms with silk drapery, take-home worthy bath products and a huge soak tub. In other words, WOW. The Villa d’Este has old world glamour oozing from every room detail, down to their plush slippers engraved with the hotel’s name. The Tremezzo also had beautiful details, but I think that hotel is going for a younger/fresher feel (for instance, they had “Alice in Wonderland”-esque velvet chairs in Technicolor hues in their café). The Villa d’Este is old world glamour, through and through.
  • The Villa d’Este is breathtakingly beautiful. Their grounds, with the uphill garden, is so majestic. You can see chefs picking herbs from the small vegetable garden on one of the terraces. It’s like you’re staying at a palace completely fit for a king. The Tremezzo is also beautiful and also has a private garden, but the Villa d’Este just takes it to another notch.  I think it must be one of the most beautiful hotel gardens I’ve ever seen.

(Climbing uphill to the private garden of Villa d’Este)

(Cafe at the Grand Hotel Tremezzo – definitely a lively color palette)


  • The surrounding city of Cernobbio is charming but expensive. To me, the restaurant choices nearby seemed a little tired. On the other hand, the Tremezzo is surrounded by fabulous dining options, and our favorite place for pizza and pasta was an unpretentious neighborhood café called Red & White. The waiters there were fun and gregarious.
  • The Villa d’Este is further away from Bellagio and some of the other Lake Como villages and sites, so you’ll likely have to take the ferry for long rides a few times. The Grand Tremezzo, on the other hand, is located within walking distance to the Villa Carlotta and just across the lake from Bellagio. It’s also very close to Villa del Balbienello (the stunning spot where Star Wars was shot).
  • Unlike the Tremezzo, which is well updated, the Villa d’Este has some crumbling parts. That’s part of the charm, but the old gym may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Also, the Tremezzo has an amazing modern spa that is open to all guests. You don’t need a spa appointment to use the warm indoor pool. I loved soaking in the pool and jacuzzi after a full day of trekking up nearby hills.
  • The Villa d’Este tends to attract an older crowd, compared to the Grand Tremezzo. We were probably the youngest couple there, and we’re not that young! So in other words, the Villa d’Este can feel a little quiet and stuffy, whereas the Grand Tremezzo was full of activity – you will routinely see people getting their wedding photos taken at the hotel, honeymooners lounging by the pool, girlfriends out on a group trip.  Lots of Americans were at the Tremezzo, whereas the Villa d’Este had an older European clientele.

(Pizza at Red & White — thin, crispy, hot, gooey. Get in my belly!)

All in all, if/when I go back to the lake region of Italy, I think I’ll visit Lake Garda, with perhaps a night at the Villa d’Este, just to walk around their beautiful grounds again. Though the Tremezzo had a really lively and friendly ambience, as well as an unbeatable location, the Villa d’Este transports you to another era.

(Part of the grounds of Villa d’Este. It makes me think of Italian poetry and stolen kisses. Swoon!)

(Kicking it at the Villa del Balbienello — located in Lenno, a village close to Tremezzo)