Winston Churchill and Al Pacino have been guests of the historic grand hotel, which offers a serene lakeside setting and proximity to architectural marvels—and is set to celebrate its 150th anniversary next year.
Hear "Lake Como" and you may picture well-heeled jetsetters alighting from private planes with barrages of designer trunks, set for a star-studded holiday (or, for a certain HBO-loyal contingent, a descending helicopter carrying members of a media dynasty). And, indeed, the famed Italian lago welcomes its fair share of Hollywood insiders and global impresarios. But there’s also plenty of history, serenity, and jaw-dropping design to be found—if you know where to look.
Across the lake from the busier town of Como, Bellagio is home to one of the area’s oldest hotels: The

Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni first opened its doors in 1873. Now, its headed into its 150th year in business with a refreshed design sensibility and eye to modern travel—all while drawing on a storied past on the shores of the lake (as in, directly on the lake, one of the few luxury hotels with such access). This just may be your sign to book your dream vacation.
Though the hotel dates back to 1873, the history of its building begins in 1850, when a count from Bergamo enlisted a group of Northern Italian architects to design a lakeside villa for his wife. Designed in the Neoclassical style with vaulted ceilings, marble floors, and intricate carving, the building also reflected some of the stylistic elements of the Art Nouveau movement, which was beginning to take off in Europe. The resulting structure was presented to her for her birthday in 1854.
Nearly two decades later, the building opened its doors as the Grand Hotel Bellagio and quickly became a favored spot for European tourists. Following the first world war, the hotel was purchased by the Swiss Bucher family, which owns and manages it to this day. Over the decades under the Bucher stewardship, the hotel has welcomed guests including John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Winston Churchill, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Clark Gable, and Al Pacino.
It’s not hard to see why the hotel attracts such discerning clientele: Tucked into the town of Bellagio, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni is accessible at once to its town area and to the lake—a rarity on Lake Como, where most hotels are separated from the water by a roadway. This makes jaunts to surrounding attractions (more on those below) easy, but the property still feels like a secluded getaway. That is thanks, in large part, to a 65,000 square-foot garden surrounding the hotel, whose paths wind from guest suites down to the water, along the lake to the pool area, and up the hill behind the hotel towards the original Villa Serbelloni, the Grand Hotel’s namesake, which is now owned by the Rockefeller Foundation.
While much of the Grand Hotel’s design is, well, grand, it’s some of the smallest details that make as big an impact as soaring painted ceilings, Murano chandeliers, and trompe l’oeil millwork. The Bucher family has extended the design history of the hotel and its region to every last inch of the property: the hotel has an in-house seamstress, who handcrafted the guest rooms’ coverlets in the style of 19th-century Italian bedding; the family worked with Etro to devise a custom motif for the hotel toiletries; slippers, robes, pool towels, and table linens were all given equal attention to detail.
In many of the public rooms, like the grand dining room and the lounge shown above, history has largely been preserved, with the regular restoration of gilt work, molding, and other details to keep them in their original splendor. Elsewhere, though, the hotel has gotten its fair share of design-forward modern updates (in 2004, it was the first hotel in Europe to build an enclosed glass veranda, extending the season for outdoor dining).
Take, for example, the bathrooms, where heavy original wood doors swing open to reveal tasteful floors and counters of Carrara marble, porcelain soaking tubs, and polished chrome fittings and fixtures. The modernization is thoughtful, without feeling out of place. After all, not even the most ardent antiquarian wants rusty, 1800s pipes, or the shower pressure of the 1910s.

The Details:

Book Your Stay at Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni

Outside the hotel grounds, there’s plenty more great design nearby. Just a short walk (on the lakefront!) away is one of Lake Como’s most famous properties, Villa Melzi, comprised of rolling fields of lakeside gardens dotted with architectural follies, sculpture, and other structures surrounding a Villa, Chapel, and Greenhouse. Conceived in 1810 by Neoclassical master Giocondo Albertolli for Duke Francesco Melzi d’Eril, the complex remains one of the most breathtaking examples of Italian Neoclassical design in the world.

Can’t get enough majestic houses? Pop on a boat across the lake to Villa del Balbianello, a one-time Franciscan monastery, which was purchased and painstakingly renovated by outdoorsman, explorer, and art collector Guido Monzino (leader of Italy’s first expedition to summit Mount Everest).
The Villa, which he donated to Italy’s National Trust on his death, plays host to Monzino’s many collections and art sourced around the world. The Villa’s 13th-century architecture and unique gardens—built into the lakeside cliff—may well look familiar to film buffs: It’s featured in Casino Royale and Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones among other films.
Suffice it to say, the area is camera-ready.
Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.

Chrishell Stause Shares Her Latest Essentials
How to Get Deals on Flights This Black Friday
What to Do in Greenville, South Carolina
The Best Luggage Brands for Every Type of Traveler Has 30% Off Getaways This Black Friday
Why Hotel Miramalfi Has Unparalleled Views
The Home Depot and VRBO Redesign a Rental
24 Scary Real-Life Haunted House Stories
The Most Beautiful Places to See Fall Foliage
The Citizenry Has Redesigned This Hotel’s Rooms
The Best Small Towns for Halloween
The Best Hotel Spas Around the World
A Part of Hearst Digital Media
Every item on this page was hand-picked by a House Beautiful editor. We may earn commission on some of the items you choose to buy.
©Hearst Magazine Media, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Shop Sephari