Cradled by snow-capped peaks, with a string of cobbled, wisteria-walled villages dipping their elegant toes in its waters, Lake Como is a byword for dolce vita, North Italian style. Byron wrote about it, Verdi composed beside it, George Clooney and Silvio Berlusconi both fell for it so hard they bought villas on its mountainous shores. Not for nothing an increasing number of you are asking us to arrange holidays here.Hidden away in the Alps, with a fin de siècle elegance and calm, Lake Como may feel a lifetime away from the hustle and bustle of the real world, but amazingly, it is only 30 minutes from Milan. This makes it a fantastically easy place to get to, whether by plane and car, or as many of you are discovering these days, by rail, taking the spectacular Bernina Express across the Swiss Alps into Tirano, then on by local train to the shores of Lake Como itself.And what a welcome awaits. Right at the crux of Lake Como’s inverted Y in the preposterously picture-perfect village of Bellagio, Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is one of the oldest and grandest hotels on the lake; five miles across the water on the lake’s western shores, Grand Hotel Tremezzo is the second of our five-star offerings on Lake Como. A stunning Art Nouveau palazzo, the hotel sits right on the lake shore, surrounded by a century-old, five-acre garden dripping in magnolias and azaleas, tulips and hydrangeas. Steeped in history, with guest lists that reads like a Who’s Who of presidents and playboys, royalty and Hollywood greats, both hotels offer a superb base from which to explore Lake Como’s many attractions.Littered with its lakeside cafes, ancient chapels, winding lanes and peerless Renaissance gardens such as those at Villa Melzi, Bellagio tends to steal the brochure headlines, and rightly so. Dubbed The Pearl of the Lake, Bellagio is one of the most beautiful towns not just in Lombardy, but in Italy itself. From Bellagio, you can even take kayak tours of the lake to gain spectacular views of the Amalfi-like, cliff-hugging villages, as well as the mountains crowning the water.However, all around the lake, Neoclassical villas, belle époque houses and erstwhile fishing villages tumble right down to the water’s edge, with Varenna, Cernobbio and Tremezzo in particular worth as much time as you can spare. As for its towns, the 2,000-year old walled city of Como is often overlooked, but has a superb medieval centre dominated by a magnificent Gothic cathedral. Best of all, car ferries and vaporetti criss-cross the lake throughout summer, so just getting around the lake itself becomes a thrillingly panoramic pleasure cruise. Traversed by a busy network of footpaths and cable cars, the hills above Lake Como are a hillwalker’s Promised Land, with superb regional cuisine in modest trattoria and Michelin-starred restaurants offering rich reward for your efforts. Wonderfully versatile, Lake Como is a stunning destination for a long-weekend or proper summer break, with a car or without. More than two centuries after Wordsworth called it “a treasure which the earth keeps to itself,” Lake Como is still one of our favourite places on the planet. Find out more about luxury holidays to Lake Como.EXPRESSIONS HOLIDAYS' LAKE COMOLake Como is one of the most popular destinations for Expressions’ clients. It has an everlasting appeal and we find that clients visit and revisit, always finding the atmosphere enchanting and rejuvenating. For first-time visitors, you can’t but help be bowled over by the luxuriant vegetation, the sophistication of the cheerful lake-side resorts and by the famous villas and gardens. How you get thereMost clients fly into Milan Linate or Malpsensa and then have a private car transfer arranged by us. Some fly in and hire a car but a car is not necessary for a stay on Lake Como as you can travel around by boat so easily. An increasing number of clients choose to travel by train from London, either via Paris and then the sleeper to Milan or via Switzerland with a night in Zurich and then the magnificent Bernina Express through the Alps. Also, Lake Como can be reached from the UK with just one overnight stop or ideally a couple, so it makes an excellent self-drive destination too.Where to stayWe offer you a choice of five hotels on the shores of Lake Como. Each one has its own character and style and offers a different aspect of the lake. We recommend:Grand Hotel Villa SerbelloniBellagioFamous for three things: favourable position on Lake Como in the picturesque town of Bellagio, at the point where three fingers of the lake meet, its lush gardens of palms and shrubs, and its historic architecture and interior decoration. Magical views, very relaxing and Michelin-starred and Italian cuisine.Prices from about £1,490 per personGrand Hotel TremezzoTremezzoThis is a grand hotel in Liberty style on the part of the lake called the Riviera of Azaleas. A magnificent swimming pool floats on the lake and the restaurant terrace enjoys panoramic views of the lake, from its elevated position.Prices from about £1,490 per personGrand Hotel ImperialeMoltrasioA four star hotel offering excellent value yet in an imposing lakeside location with rooms in the main building, a newer wing and the exclusive villa, very close to the lake. Gardens, lakeside terrace and pool overlooking the lake add to the sense of relaxation here.Prices from about £1,090 per personVilla d’EsteCernobbioThe imposing Villa d’Este is one of the very best hotels in Italy and exudes sophistication and elegance. Once a summer residence of royalty, the hotel has outstanding dining and leisure facilities as well as a famous garden. Prices from about £1870 per personAll above prices are from prices based on low season and include 7 nights’ bed and breakfast, flights from London to Milan and a hire car.
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