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.
This small boutique hotel is 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.
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)…
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
P.S. To all theTicino lovers out there, please also check out the elegant Villa Orselina near Locarno!
Courtesy of Relais Castello di Morcote
Simone Aïda Baur | Global Inspirations Design