The Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola is reminiscent of a historic home and provides you with a unique vacation experience.
The classic style luxury hotel Villa Castagnola is set in a lush sub-tropical garden on the outskirts of the city of Lugano overlooking Lake Lugano and the Monte San Salvatore.
Walking through the common areas of the Villa Castagnola made me think of the historic homes I visited in London for my interior design studies. There are numerous lounges and parlours filled with precious antiques, tapestries and artwork including paintings from old European masters. These impressive spaces are open to guests to use at their leisure to relax, read a book or to get some work done.
Villa Castagnola therefore doesn’t feel like your typical hotel, but rather like an exclusive private residence, which is what it was originally designed for. The villa was built as the private winter residence for the Von Ritters, a noble family from Russia, in 1880.
Five years later the villa was purchased by the family Schnyders Von Wartensees, who with great vision turned the property into a guesthouse and eventually a luxury hotel. The family owned and managed the hotel for three generations spanning across nearly a century until they sold it to the Lugano based family Garzoni, who still owns Villa Castagnola.
When the Garzoni family took over the hotel and its management in 1982, they renovated and extended the hotel by 2 floors. In 2002 they purchased the former Hotel du Midi across the street and converted it into a luxury residence named the Art Residence and a restaurant called Restaurant Galleria Arté al Lago. The latter being a combination of an art gallery and a fine dining restaurant.
The Galleria Arté al Lago with Chef Frank Oerthle has accumulated 16 Gault Millau points and 1 Michelin star over the years. Sitting on the shores of Lake Lugano, one gets to enjoy elevated cuisine in a classic contemporary setting surrounded by art and with views of Lake Lugano. I can’t speak from experience, because the restaurant was closed during my stay, but it does seem like a must-try when in Lugano.
However, I can’t complain, because I got spoiled at the other two restaurants at Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, La Rucola and Le Relais. The latter has been awarded 15 Gault Millau and offers an innovative Mediterranean cuisine. To my delight, both restaurants offer a choice of vegan options and I was treated to a 5-course vegan tasting menu at Le Relais that took my taste buds on a journey.
Outside of their culinary offer, The Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola, member of Small Luxury Hotels, features 72 rooms and suites, several conference rooms of all sizes, a tennis court and a wellness centre with an indoor swimming pool, jacuzzi, saunas, steam rooms and a fitness room. The hotel also boasts with its own sun terrace on the lake aka Lido and of course plenty of space to indulge in some dolce far niente in the beautiful hotel park.
My suite was very generous in size featuring an open plan bedroom and living area as well as two terraces with stunning views of the gardens below and across Lake Lugano and the Monte San Salvatore beyond.
The suite is designed in a classic Mediterranean style featuring shabby chic furniture and a soft colour scheme of beige, sage green, terracotta and gold. I appreciated the classic design in the suite, as it is well suited to the historic building, but I did find the bathrooms a bit outdated.
Mixing 1970’s avocado green tiles with marble is a definite no go in my books and as an interior designer, especially having just completed a large bathroom renovation project, I couldn’t help but re-design the bathrooms in my head.
It goes without saying that my favourite part of my suite were the terraces and the views. I just couldn’t get enough. While I would enjoy my coffee on the terrace fitted out with a small table and two chairs, I enjoyed lounging in the sun before dinner on the other.
As someone with an appreciation for the arts, I would have loved to have more time to truly soak up the ambiance of the various parlours, in particular the Salone del Camino, which literally translates to the ‘fireplace parlour’.
However, the great outdoors and beautiful Ticino sunshine were calling my name. The region of Lugano has lots to offer from leisurely walks alongside the lake to glorious hikes with million-dollar views as well as any imaginable outdoor sport.
Thanks to its enviable location, beautiful historic architecture, museum-worthy artwork, verdant gardens and culinary indulgences, the Villa Castagnola Lugano is a destination in its own right, but also a great base to explore the region from.
It comes therefore as no surprise that Villa Castagnola has attracted many people of rank over the years, including nobility, business moguls and political figures. At the same time, the private and discreet ambiance of this grand hotel make it a great place to get away from it all for any discerning traveler with an appreciation for art, culture and gastronomy.
Happy stylish discoveries,
Photography: Courtesy of the Grand Hotel Villa Castagnola (unless marked otherwise)
Note: This blog post was created in collaboration with the hotel (press stay).