A Weekend in Lake Como: Grand Hotel Imperiale

Food, fashion, and long summer holidays are just a few of the reasons I’m jealous of the Italians. It seems that they all, come summer, disappear off into the mountains or to the beach to escape the daily grind.

Read on to find out how I channeled my inner Italian…

Working in corporate North America, I’m not entitled to the same minimum 4-weeks vacation. So my trip to Lake Como had to be much shorter. But even in the short span of two nights, Lake Como stole my heart.

Getting There

Despite it’s reputation as being a remote, hidden retreat for Europe’s elite (and George Clooney), Lake Como is actually quite accessible. We were surprised to discover that it actually makes for the perfect long weekend destination. 

We took the red eye on a Thursday night and arrived to Milan on Friday morning. From Milan–Malpensa Airport (MXP), we took a quick regional train to Saronno and then connected on the next train to Lago Como Nord station.

The journey to the town of Como itself takes just over an hour and then another 30 minutes or more by bus or boat depending on where you are staying. 

Where to Stay 

The town of Como itself is charming, but nothing compared the the hidden gems that await further up the lake.

Lake Como is home to tens of little Italian villages – Bellagio, Tremezzo and Moltrasio to name a few. As soon as your boat leaves the main ferry dock, the landscape transforms becoming more dreamy by the minute. 

With so many classic hotels and villas for rent, it was tricky navigating the Internet to find the best accommodation.

I am intensely visual, so I pick most of my hotels based on pictures that inspire me. It didn’t take much searching to come across stunning images of the Grand Hotel Imperiale in the tiny town of Moltrasio.

Basically one of the best decisions I made this summer.

As our ferry approached the town of Moltrasio, the Grand Hotel Imperiale was visible right away.

Guests lounged on the pool deck at the water’s edge drinking Lambrusco, children jumped off diving boards at the adjacent park, and guests lazily read the newspaper on the lawn. It seemed like the pinnacle of old-world leisure.

No wonder Winston Churchill loved this town so much.

After the hectic summer I’ve had, the relaxed but opulent vibe of the hotel with the backdrop of the Alps was just what I needed. I couldn’t wait to settle in and call this place “home” for two nights. I couldn’t wait to find boredom again.

Where to Eat

Finding food in Italy seems simple enough. But is it? I let the concierge recommended and book us in at Imperialino, a stunning restaurant perched on the water’s edge.

When we arrived, it was the most heavenly view. The Alps had a soft glow as the sun started to set, and the colourful villas across the lake lit up vibrantly. The sun’s last rays shimmered in the water making for the most spectacular backdrop for a dinner. 

If the food had been terrible (which it wasn’t), it would have still been the most beautiful evening of my summer. 

We ordered the 10-course Italian tasting menu with wine pairing. It was a flavourful journey through northern Italian cuisine (specifically food made in the Lombard and Piedmontese tradition). Dinner left me feeling both stuffed and grateful to be alive. 

I wasn’t surprised to learn that Imperialino, lead by Chef Sebastiano Adobatih, has three red forks in the Michelin Guide. 

What to Do

Im a big fan of packing it all in on a short vacation, but the relaxed vibe at the hotel made me want to slow the f— down and chill on the pool deck all day. Thats just what we did.

We drank wine, played Briscola and went for the occasional dip to cool off.

In Summary

Heading to Lake Como? If you are looking for a beautiful, classic hotel at which you can lounge at the pool by day and eat incredible food by night, look no further. The Grand Hotel Imperiale is the place to stay.

I’m hoping to make this a recurrent summer trip, if even just for a long weekend.

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