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With super-tight building restrictions in place to protect its sleepy Alpine villages and centuries-old, garden-flanked villas, Italy’s glamorous Lake Como—a.k.a. the summer stomping ground of George and Amal Clooney—tends to change at a glacial pace. (To wit: the first internationally branded property, a Sheraton, opened here only a few years ago.) But the area is splashier than ever this season, thanks to a spate of buzzy new hotels and revamps. While Hilton is set to arrive in September and the locally owned Vista Palazzo is coming next spring, here are four new additions that you can book now.
Filario Hotel & Residences
Located in the little-known town of Lezzeno, this Design Hotels member is a rare new build right on the lake—and it took five years to come to fruition. Inside the local-stone façade, you’ll find 21 rooms and apartments with modern furnishings custom-made in Cantù, a nearby hub for Italian design. Outside, take your pick between the swimming pool and the private beach; plus, choose from a range of Lombardy-based activities, including private vineyard tours and midnight fishing trips lead by local skippers. Doubles from $255; 96 Bagnana; 39-31/914-035; filario.it.
Grand Hotel Tremezzo
Between the aristocratic elegance of its colorful Art Nouveau décor and the dashes of whimsy all around (see lobby-side candy bar), this family-run, 90-room, 107-year-old palace-hotel could be a Wes Anderson film set. Having recently turned an adjacent villa into its T Spa—a 10,000-square-foot ESPA wellness space, complete with an overnight suite—the owners have now taken over Villa Sola Cabiati, a quick stroll or boat ride from the hotel’s central perch on the lake. Built as the summer residence of the Serbelloni Dukes, the 18th-century landmark has never changed hands nor opened to the public, but its frescoed, art-filled interiors are accessible exclusively to hotel guests as of this season. Doubles from $499; 8 Via Regina; 39/3444-2491; grandhoteltremezzo.com.
Last summer, the group behind St. Barthélemy’s Le Sereno opened a highly anticipated sister hotel on the eastern shore of Lake Como, designed by Patricia Urquiola. From the 30 terraced suites with floor-to-ceiling windows to the freshwater infinity pool hovering above the water, the property is a contemporary departure from its classical surrounds. Two hundred–year-old granite walls have been covered in Patrick Blanc’s vertical gardens, while the centuries-old boathouse has been re-imagined as a Valmont spa. Also new for the season: Aperitivo Hour at the hotel’s 16th-century Villa Pliniana, accessible via custom-built Cantiere Ernesto Riva motorboats. Doubles from $1,053; 10 Via Torrazza; 39-31/547-7800; ilsereno.com.
The noble Lombardi family previously owned this 19th-century hotel, situated on the cliffs above Como, and it still feels like an intimate residence. Expect just nine spacious suites, each with panoramic views of the lake and the mountains beyond, not to mention the infinity pool or the house pontoon. Meanwhile, the new chef, Michele Tamburrino, will teach you how to make fresh pasta as well as regional specialties using ingredients grown in the on-site gardens. Doubles from $690; 25 Via Giacomo Matteotti, Pognana Làrio; 39-31/537-5064; villalario.com.