Taking full advantage of Lake Como’s stunning beauty, Il Sereno Lago di Como, sits on the edge of the popular Italian lake. The hotel, conceived by globally renowned architect and designer Patricia Urquiola, is a property that capitalizes on the views and relaxed– but very stylish — atmosphere of the area. The contemporary design has been called one of the top 25 hotels to visit in the world by numerous major media.
Beginning right from the magnificent entrance, it’s easy to see how special the design of the hotel is. The lobby features a floating staircase with glass rails by Fontanot, an Italian company that has been making custom staircases since 1947. The stairs are completely custom made from highly select Canaletto Walnut wood. A second Fontanot custom staircase is located next to the elevator that leads to the guest room floors. Both sets of stairs are designed to complement the interior setting and are an artistic element rather than just a utilitarian necessity.
In addition to the substantial but minimalist stairs, the space is dominated by a deliberate arrangement of wooden poles that segment the space without obscuring any of the natural light. The design also provides tantalizing glimpses of the lake from all of the lobby areas. Furnishings are relaxed, neutral and comfortable, which keeps them from taking attention away from the magnificent location.
Across from the leather sofas are additional fabric versions, also designs by Urquiola. Her Husk sofa is deeply tufted — much like a traditional sofa but in a modern fashion — and upholstered in a soft fabric. The structural cushions are plush and the back is the same height as the armrests, so that when a person sinks into the sofa, it receives them like a hug. The higher sides are also meant to help keep a seated person’s attention from wandering — either from the view or from a conversation partner.
The sofa, which comes in two lengths, has supports that can be ordered in a copper or bronze nickel painted finish. Upholstery in wool and linen is made even more inviting with an array of casual throw pillows. Once again the color palette remains neutral so that it doesn’t detract from the views.
The main floor of the hotel includes a restaurant where the design elements carry through into the space. The casual space has a relaxed sensibility that is conducive to conversation and lingering meals. The tall-backed banquets are paired with Urquiola’s Zantilam 2 chairs. The back legs, backrest and the rung that forms the arms of the chair are made from solid, steam-bent ashwood. The seat is plywood, upholstered in a muted forest green.
Another seating area in the hotel is arranged around the architect’s Bend sectional sofa. The irregular shape is unexpected, rounded and a bit imposing, yet comfortable. Contrasting seams help define the design and add a linear sense of movement. It’s a versatile sofa that is large enough to provide ample seating and stand up to heavy use. The side chairs are upholstered in shades of green that mimic the plant life outside the window. Next to the sofa on the neon colored occasional table, a Flos Copycat lamp adds an extra touch of style and mood lighting. The contemporary lighting fixture is made from blown glass and an aluminum sphere coated with 24 karat gold. Designed by Michael Anastassiades, it uses an LED light source and is dimmable.
Situated between Lake Como and the mountains, the architecture of the building fits into the natural setting and is enhanced by the surrounding scenery. In fact, the natural setting was an inspiration for the materials used in creating the hotel: earthy materials like wood and stone are highlighted by copper and natural textiles. The interior spaces, as well as the outdoor areas such as this al fresco dining alcove, offer the ultimate location for relaxing and luxuriating.
The chairs in the alcove are an outdoor version of the Husk chair, which has a hard shell made of Hirek and soft cushions that are extra soft and comfortable. The seat backs are available in a variety of colors — white, black, orange, acid green and sky blue. The upholstery is a techno-material that allows water to pass through without being trapped. The base of these chairs is painted black metal.
Naturally, the hotel property has all the amenities a guest could need, including a lakeside swimming pool. Enjoy the view while paddling in the pool or relax in individual covered cabanas. Next to the pool is a charming Italian garden, perfect for a little stroll and enjoyment of the lake. Even more exciting, guests can arrive at the hotel via boat, landing at the property’s private dock.
In designing the hotel, Urquiola incorporated the same kind of natural elements that surround the property. Here, a walkway is made special by featuring an old, moss-accented stone wall and an entire vertical garden. The greenery brings living texture to a small corridor that could have been a sterile pass-through.
Much like the lobby, the guest suites are equally calming and relaxing, thanks to the colors and the materials used. They are a far cry from the generic layouts and furnishings that tend to populate large hotels at all price points. Separate sleeping and living space makes the suite more restful and the unique furnishings add design interest. This suite’s living area is highlighted by the dining table and modern, comfortable dining chairs. The setting is illuminated by two Chasen Lamps by Flos, which provide diffused lighting and a soft feel, perfect for unwinding.
The bedroom is particularly serene and features plenty of wood, a gentle dose of color and floor-to-ceiling windows. A minimalist headboard allows the paneled artwork above to shine. It’s a dramatic piece that dominates by sheer size, but the muted tones add a soothing note to the rooms design. All the furnishings, including the ottoman at the end of the bed are plush and comfortable. The chairs are again Husk armchairs from B&B Italia, which have a cushy seat and ergonomic lines..
The bedroom includes a writing desk with an exceptionally stylish chair, accented by Vibia’s Mayfair lamp, designed by Diego Fortunato Here the lamp is done in copper, which is highlighted by the warm wood tones, but it is also available in white, black and gold. Lamps by the bed are hung from the wall, freeing up space on the spare, modern bedside tables.
A second style of guest suite is just as calming, but is decorated in only natural neutral tones. The brown and beige palette is very spa-like and tranquil. The same chair sits at the desk, but the blue backrest is replaced with a neutral upholstery. This room shows how a neutral palette does not have to be boring with the addition of a showpiece rug. This Barbes hand-knotted rug is made from bamboo silk and recycled sari silk and was designed by Paolo Zani. The tightly knotted carpet, which is very durable and high quality, was made using an Indo-Tibetan knotting technique and “sumak” knotting, which comes from Persia.
The star of this large corner suite is the windowed corner of the bedroom, providing an unparalleled panorama view of the lake. The same neutral tines and minimalist furniture only serve to highlight the view. The corner reading setting includes the Viccarbe Burin table, a great place to settle in and read, day or night, surrounded by the lake views. The Big Sur wool and viscose dhurrie rug, designed by Paolo Zani, adds texture without color. Dhurrie rugs are similar to kilim carpets that are woven instead of knotted., which limits the types of patterns that can be used.
A similar room also relies on textures and clean lines for serenity and pleasing design, which centers on the rug. The Zani-designed, hand-loomed Orta rug is made from wool and viscose.
Private and perfect, this little balcony is alike a little personal slice of heaven on Lake Como. The covered patio is meant for lounging and relaxing, especially with the ample and casual furnishings. The B&B Italia Outdoor Fat Sofa designed by Urquiola is generously padded and has a metal backrest that is made with a large woven pattern of twisted polyethylene material. The open and lightweight frame is light and transparent, just like the environment.
Not surprisingly, the bathrooms have a spa-like atmosphere, featuring a deep stand-alone tub and an expansive vanity with stone basins. The faucets are the Axor Urquiola 3 hole wall-mounted units, made from chrome-covered brass. The larger, extended shape has an almost natural extension from the wall. With most of the other elements having a low profile, the faucet adds a different dimension to this harmonious setting. The tall window in the bathroom brings in natural light and offers a glimpse into the trees outside.