Boutique Hotel Relais Castello di Morcote: a gem above Lake Lugano

Switzerland, Hotel Interior Design

Experience the beauty of simplicity with a touch of luxury at the boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote.


On my quest in finding some of the most unique and most beautiful hotels in Switzerland, I came across the charming boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote.

The Relais Castello di Morcote is a small boutique hotel hidden away in the quaint medieval village Vico Morcote, which sits above one of the most photographed villages in Ticino; Morcote. Both villages are defined by narrow cobbled streets and arcades and of course stunning views across Lake Lugano.

Boutique Hotel Relais Castello di Morcote

The boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote stands proudly at the entrance to the idyllic hillside village Vico Morcote.

The boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote invites you to slow down

Already as we were driving up the winding road to the hotel, it felt a bit like entering a parallel world. A place where time stood still and everything moves a bit slower. Almost like an open invitation for some proverbial ‘Dolce Far Niente’ (sweetness of doing nothing)…

Rustic, yet refined. In other words, the beauty of simplicity.

Architecture and interior design in harmony

The boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote is named after the nearby medieval castle and disposes of 12 rooms, each with a unique floor plan and slightly different interiors. Some even come with a balcony, others with a private garden. Both architecture and interior design play a vital role in the ambiance of this unique luxury boutique hotel.

views across Lake Lugano from boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote

Sipping a coffee on the balcony whilst gazing into the distance, sure is a great way to start the day…

400 years of history

As always when visiting historic hotels and hotels housed in historic buildings, I can’t help but wonder ‘What if the walls could talk’? More so in this particular case, as most of the history of the Relais Castello di Morcote and the castle itself for that matter are down to myths and legends.

It is known, however, that the building was originally a convent during the 17th century and later on became the residence of patrician families such as the Duchy of Milan. In more recent years it was home to the South California Institute of Architecture, where then young Swiss star architect Mario Botta was a tutor.

Whilst the original architectural features, such as the ancient cement floor tiles and the painted coffered ceilings have been salvaged, the antique lime plaster walls and frescoes were restored to emphasize the historic relevance of the building.

unique combination of classic architecture and rustic contemporary interiors at boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote

Century old architecture and contemporary interior design in perfect balance.

Timeless interior design

As a professional interior designer, I applaud the architect Francesca Neri Antonella for achieving the perfect balance between patina and contemporary interior design. Based on the owners love for Asian culture and travel, the architect also infused some Asian and Japanese design elements. If I had to describe the interior design style in one sentence, I’d say: ‘Wabi-sabi (a Japanese aesthetic of perfect imperfection) with a Mediterranean touch.

Natural materials like wood, metal and linen were combined with a neutral colour scheme. Taupe soft furnishing is set against dark wooden floors and black metal furniture resulting in timeless interiors with a somewhat moody, yet soothing ambiance.

The common areas of this small luxury boutique hotel create a ‘Sense of Home’. When combined with the personable approach of hotel manager Signore Orlando Stefani, it almost makes you feel as if staying with friends.

living lounge at boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote featuring a massive marble fireplace

The impressive original marble fireplace is not only an eye-catcher, but surely also a great way to create coziness during the cooler months.

A modern extension in the shape of a cube made of steel and concrete add additional rooms as well as a secluded covered outdoor patio overlooking the hotel’s Mediterranean garden, also referred to as the secret garden of Boutique Hotel Relais Castello di Morcote.

A true Ticino experience

As always, I started my mornings with some yoga. Doing so in the lovely garden overlooking the church of Vico Morcote and the lake was true bliss. Being able to indulge in a healthy breakfast under the vine-covered pergola of the Restaurant la Sorgente (only open for breakfast at the time of writing) thereafter, was the cherry on the cake. I’d say if that holiday feeling hasn’t kicked in yet by then, the long stone tables on gravel so typical for Ticino and the views of Lake Lugano, should do the trick.

Now add a vineyard, featuring a Medieval castle, to the mix and you got yourself the perfect romantic getaway.

Morcote Castle vineyard

Most of Morcote Castle’s history remains a mystery, but it contains elements that date all the way back to the 12th century.

In vino veritas

It goes without saying that a tour of the vineyard Tenuta Castello di Morcote followed by a wine tasting is a must when staying at the Relais Castello di Morcote. The Morcote Castle vineyard, which is under the same ownership as the hotel, features a converted barn that also caters to events. The views across the terraced vineyards with Lake Lugano and the Alps as a backdrop are simply breathtaking.

views across vineyards and Lake Lugano

The views are just as magical as the Castello di Morcote itself.

Legend has it that even during Medieval times they used to produce wine on the hills around Morcote Castle. The vineyard has been in the hands of the Gianini family for 4 generations now. Gaby Gianini, who grew up in urban Milan and originally studied art and literature, eventually decided to pursue her family’s tradition and returned to her first love: the Ticino. Together with her husband, hard work and lots of passion, she’s now made her mark in the male dominated wine world and is considered one of Switzerland’s most renowned winemakers.

She’s not only passionate about winemaking, but also about caring for the land. The Castello di Morcote wines are all organic and the land is cultivated according to biodynamic principles, allowing the soil to fully regenerate. La Tenuta Castello di Morcote produces a variety of white wines including the typical Ticino white Merlot, an award-winning rosé wine and a selection of red wines.

sunset in the hills

The serene surroundings of the Restaurant Vicania, especially at sunset, create a sense of magic.

Wine and dine far away from the crowds

For dinner the hotel took us to the Restaurant Vicania, which is located higher up on the estate. The restaurant consists of an antique stone house and a large garden area overlooking alpine pastures and forests. A vast variety of herbs are grown on the premises and add a special touch. The unique setting creates a very relaxed and intimate ambiance.

Essentially, this is what the boutique hotel Relais Castello di Morcote is all about – relaxation and intimacy. It’s the ideal place, if you’re looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Yet again you’re only a short drive away from countless activities as well as the Lugano nightlife, once you’ve recharged your batteries…

Happy stylish discoveries!

Simone xx

P.S. To all the Ticino lovers out there, please also check out the elegant Villa Orselina near Locarno and the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola in Lugano!

Courtesy of Relais Castello di Morcote
Simone Aïda Baur | Global Inspirations Design

Note: This blog post was created in collaboration with the hotel (press stay).


About the Author

Interior Designer and Blogger

Welcome to Global Inspirations Design’s Blog!

I’m Simone Aïda Baur and I invite you to embark on a design journey with me. My blog is your passport to global inspirations and where I share my passion and discoveries from the world of interior design.

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