Leaving a place that you fell in love with is never going to be easy but it is made ever so slightly easier with a final treat at the end.
We would be ending our time in Lake Como with a slight detour enroute back Milan Linate airport and stop for lunch at beautiful new hotel, Il Sereno. Like a work of modern art, Il Sereno sits suspended on the banks of Lake Como and despite it’s contemporary cool appearance still blends perfectly into the surroundings. With a facade of bronze, stone, walnut and glass this gorgeous hotel has an organic look that is perfectly in keeping with the natural beauty of it location in the breath-taking town of Torno.
Before heading to the hotel via a suspended bridge we took a moment to breathe in the beautiful gardens but this is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to greenery at Il Sereno…
The beautiful lake-top pool is one of the central features of the hotel and the surrounding sundeck with loungers and gazebos provide the perfect perch for enjoying the view.
Next to the pool, two (of the hotel’s three) vintage Riva boats bob up and down waiting for hotel guests to hire them for an adventure across the lakes. They’ve been custom made especially by the finest craftsman and the Riva family has been hand-crafting boats since 1771 in the local town of Laglio.
What sets Il Sereno apart is that it is the first new hotel in Lake Como for 100 years and the only modern design hotel in the area. Inside is as contemporary cool as the exterior but the theme of natural, organic material continues with a relatively understated design that allows Il Sereno to remain authentic to it’s location and for the incredible views to take centre stage. The space has been designed with huge glass windows facing the lake so there’s no escaping the beautiful view.
The lobby is clad in bronze with a suspended walnut staircase with copper piping as the centre piece, it minimalist but all absolutely striking at the same time. This gorgeous creation is the work of Milan-based architect Patricia Urquiola, Wallpaper* Magazine Designer of The Year 2015, who designed the space with absolute minute attention to detail. She even specified the uniforms for the staff!
Where possible local materials and craftsman have been employed – once again adding to the authenticity of the place and making use of some of the world’s best furniture makers.
Il Sereno is the sister property of Le Sereno in St Barths and owner Luis Contreras tasked Patricia with making the Como hotel as special as it’s Caribbean predecessor.
Upstairs the lounge area had those floor to ceiling views and slouchy sofa in neutral tones and bronzes which bring the outside in for a seamless connection with the landscape. A spa is set to open imminently, and I imagine like the rest of the hotel it will epitomise relaxed and stylish luxury.
The wrap around terrace is ideal for those lakeside cocktails…honestly somewhere I could stay all day. Just pass me a Bellini please! Also on the terrace is Le Mirroir Vert du Lac, one of the two vertical gardens designed by Patrick Blanc, a botanist commissioned for his skill in creating such feature gardens. This living wall is actually made up of 2,000 individual plants, elsewhere is the other vertical garden, Le Canyon and plant sculpture Les Racines Echassees. Il Sereno is also the only place where Patrick Blanc has created three different pieces, each one inspired by the colours and movement of the lake. Patrick Blanc is someone that truly blends the science of botany with the art of design for these beautiful creations.
This exclusive hotel has just thirty suites and every single one has an outdoor terrace with a view of the lake. We were lucky enough to get a sneak peek at the penthouse on the sixth floor!
Natural colours and fabric make this space an utter sanctuary and echo the colours of the lake. Luxury really is in the subtle details here from the sheets from D. Porthault, Paris to the Ex Voto Paris toiletries and the floors inlaid with Venetian terrazzo…
I mean, that’s quite a view to wake up to! Walls are wooden and white, glass and granite accents once again enhance the view rather than detract from it. And out on the terrace there’s even a private garden and pool.
Bathroom lovers will fall in love with the stone panelled room with free standing bath and floating sink. There’s even a sky light so that the room is flooded with bright natural light.
We headed back down to Berton al Lago restaurant keen to try the food of Michelin star chef Andrea Berton. You can eat indoors or take a seat right on the water in the restaurant’s outdoor terrace…
As we did…
The perfect place to enjoy a glass of rose with a view!
There’s the choice of a casual menu of sandwiches and salads but we were keen to try the more refined menu inspired by the lake which has been designed by renowned Milan restauranteur Milan Andrea Berton. Berton has four Michelin stars across his three restaurants in Milan and over twenty seven years of experience. Executive chef Raffaele Lenzi, has twenty years himself all starting in his family’s bakery and training in London, New York and Rome with award-winning chefs.
A beautifully presented lattice of white and green asparagus with a poached egg was my starter and the vegetables had that perfect combination of soft tips and firm stems. An absolute winner of a dish!
Mr S loved his Fassona beef tartare which was innovatively combined with garlic cream, tapioca and caviar which gave delicious contrasting textures. Local sourcing is so important at Il Sereno and at the restaurant the fish comes straight from lake, the mountainous area of Valtellina is a great source of meat, cheese and wine and nearby Pianura Padana is well-known for its risotto. Speaking of which, our waiter highly recommended that we try it so we went ahead and ordered it as a intermediate course.
On my last day in Italy, there was no way I wasn’t having pasta – I just don’t think you can get it the same out of Italy – so ordered the buckwheat tagliatelle with rabbit ragout and black cabbage. I honestly didn’t regret my double helping of carbs as this was utterly perfect. The addition of buckwheat to the pasta giving it a slightly nutty finish that was the ideal combination with the light flavours of rabbit.
The waiter warned us that Mr S’s choice of Veal Milanese, was a deconstructed dish and not the traditional form. But Mr S loved this twist of a classic that was beautifully cooked and not overly filling, combined with almonds and turnip tops.
We tried several wonderful restaurants in Lake Como but I can safely say the food was the best at Berton al Lago at Il Sereno. You can imagine my devastation that due to time restraints and our impending flight, we couldn’t order dessert which I imagine would have been as beautiful and delicious as the preceding courses…damn my insistence on the risotto course! Had I time the apple pie and black tea ice cream was calling my name, or perhaps the restaurant’s signature tiramisu.
There really is nothing quite like Il Sereno, it is truly a modern jewel of contemporary cool in Lake Como!
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We were invited to Il Sereno for a tour and complimentary lunch.
Il Sereno Hotel
Via Torrazza 10