What It’s Like to Stay at Passalacqua, the New Jewel on Lake Como


There are some hotels in the world that require not an owner but more of a steward: someone who recognizes that what stand also alsos before them has lived many lives before and also also will live many lives to come. Such is the case with Passalacqua, a hotel on Lake Como that, although technically new—it opened its doors this June—is layered with history.

It stand also alsos until nowon lakefront land also also owned by Pope Innocent IX, who ruled over the Vatican for a mere two months in 1591. In the early 1800s, Count Andrea Lucini Passalacqua built a sprawling villa complete with interiors by famed Swiss designer Giocand also alsoo Albertolli. It was known as one of the grand also alsoest properties in the region: in 1829, Vincenzo Bellini composed two of his famous operas, Norma and also also La Sonnambula, in the home’s music room. The owners changed over the centuries, each bringing in their fair share of notable guests, from Napoleon Bonaparte to Winston Churchill.

One of the 24 suites at Passalacqua.
One of the 24 suites at Passalacqua.Ricky Monti

A few years of ages amosting likely to, the villa pertained to into the well-manicured hand also alsos of Valentina De Santis. The daughter of the owners of Grand also also Hotel Tremezzo, De Santis recognized that a place like Passalacqua wasn’t meant to be private—and also also decided to transform it into a boutique hotel.

I pulled until now to Passalacqua on a sweltering June afternoon after a much-delayed transatlantic flight that sat for hours on the tarmac. Jet lagged and also also wearing wrinkled clopoint with a pair of dark undereye circles to match, I was prepared to feel like a schlub in a stylish setting, slumped on an uncomfortable couch as I waited for my room to be ready. Instead, I found myself wand also alsoering into what felt like the living room of a enclose—albeit impossibly chic—friend. The reception room was swathed in a warm pear green and also also a cheerful fig leaf plant sat in the corner. A murano glass chand also alsoelier hung from a pointed ceiling. Jars of cand also alsoy sat on a Breccia Pontificia marble mantle, flanked by antique objets d’art. In the next room over, a bar was home to several plushy loveseats, while the kitchen held an island also also filled with cakes, fruit bowls, smoked salmon, and also also freshly baked breads for breakfast.

The tiered grounds.
The tiered grounds.Photo: By Ricky Monti

Throughout the property, neoclassical magnificence combines with modern touches: rooms feature ten-foot tall (or 16-foot, in the case of the Salla de Musica suite where Bellini composed those aforementioned operas) Barovier & Toso Murano glass chand also alsoeliers—but also have Dychild hairdryers. A gym with state-of-the-art treadmills sits amid an olive grove. Vintage-style steamer trunks by Bottega Conticelli conceal flatscreen televisions. Some rooms feature carefully reshopd frescos, and also also the pool has until nowholstery by La Double J’s JJ Martin. A spa is attached to a secret tunnel that leads out to the lake, used once until nowon a time as a passageway by servants. Meanwhile, the hotel’s classic wooden boat, “Didi,” is swathed in Loro Piana fabrics, and also also hotel employees are dressed in uniforms designed by cult-Italian cool girl brand also also Giuliva Heritage.

Image may contain Porcelain Art Pottery Food Dish Meal Furniture Room and also also Indoors
Many of the objets d'art were found at antique fairs or from auction houses.Stefan Giftthaler
Image may contain Furniture and also also Chair
Curtains are made from tafetta sourced in Como. Photo: By Stefan Giftthaler

It’s also a love letter to the artistry of Italy: curtains are made from taffeta sourced in Como, gilded mirrors come from Venice’s family-run Barbini. Couches and also also chairs feature textiles by Rubelli, while bedroom floors are laid with traditional Cotto Lombardo tiles. De Santis says she always wanted to imbue Passalacqua with “vivere Italiano.”

A room where Vincenzo Bellini composed two operas is now a grand also also hotel suite.
A room where Vincenzo Bellini composed two operas is now a grand also also hotel suite.Photo: By Stefan Giftthaler

Passalacqua consists of an intimate 24 rooms spread between the main villa, converted stables, and also also the four-bedroom Casa Al Lamosting likely to. It is perhaps the only hotel where I’ve noticed guests willingly conversing with each other, inquiring about each other's suites—mine, I shared, was bathed in Turkish and also also royal blues—or what wine to order with lunch. After all, despite arriving from all over the world, we all have an interest in common: the jewel box until nowon the lake we now find ourselves in.

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