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Our little black book of enchanting places

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Five gems on the Italian lakes

Posted in HOTELS + VILLAS By Maggie O' Sullivan

When the mayor of Laglio threatened to fine anyone caught annoying George Clooney and his wife a couple of years ago, we felt sorry for the glamorous couple. What price fame if you can’t enjoy Lake Como in peace and quiet? It's at its best in September, when the water is warmer and the crowds have gone home. Here’s where to stay.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Lake Como

Greta Garbo called Grand Hotel Tremezzo a ‘happy sunny place’ and it certainly has one of the best positions on the lake, nextdoor to Villa Carlotta, with panoramic views of Bellagio, the Riviera delle Azalee and the Grigne Mountains. Opened in 1910, it’s the oldest hotel on Lake Como and still family run. A multi-million pound renovation project has recently spruced up existing rooms, added romantic new suites and a vast new spa. But what we love most is the hotel’s hip T Beach with a floating swimming pool and its own Champagne bar. Very Dolce Vita. From £425 plus taxes per night.Filario Hotel & Residences, Lake Como

From the oldest to one of the newest: the Filario, a stunning, family-owned contemporary hotel and a member of Design Hotels, on the site of an old wire factory. Each of the 21 rooms and apartments has been lovingly created by Italian designer Alessandra Agrati, and has its own private terrace from which to enjoy views of Bellagio, Villa Balbaianello and Comacina Island. Guests are encouraged to experience the ‘real Lombardy’, from moonlit fishing trips to private vineyard tours. From around £202 per night.Lefay Resort & Spa, Lake Garda

Lefay Resort is set in the Alto Garda National Park, overlooking Lake Garda. It has a great programme of activities and excursions, including a private visit to one of the last surviving lemon houses in the region, sailing lessons on the lake and trekking in the National Park. But what Lefay is famous for is its water-based wellness treatments and therapies, including five different types of sauna and flotation therapies. From around £208 per night.Relais Villa Vittoria, Lake Como

Relais Villa Vittoria is another relative newcomer on Lake Como. Opened in 2011, this is a smart little boutique hotel with just 12 rooms, an infinity pool, Moroccan-style spa and gourmet restaurant serving regional dishes. Décor is neutral and uncluttered, with vast windows overlooking the lake and gardens (note that not all the rooms have lake views). A glass of prosecco on the terrace as the sun sets: that will do for us. From £190-£230 per night.Villa Feltrinelli, Lake Garda

The enchanting pink and white, neo-Gothic lakeside villa was built by the Feltrinelli family in 1892 and though it has been a hotel since the 1990s, it still feels like a family home, albeit one with marble stairways, antique Venetian mirrors, and a kitchen presided over by a chef who trained at elBulli. Favourite things to do here include lazy afternoons aboard Feltrinelli’s pleasure boat, La Contessa; breakfast in the garden overlooking the lake; and tucking into homemade ice cream by the pool. From around £992 per night.

BY MAGGIE O'SULLIVAN

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