Mandarin Oriental Lake Como Review: A Pristine Snapshot Of La Dolce Vita (2023)

Grand and beautifully postured at the height of luxury travel, Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como (AKA Mandarin Oriental Lake Como) sits on the southeast banks of sparkling Lake Como, one of the world’s foremost symbols of affluence. It’s here the common Italian phrase dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing) rings true a thousand times over, but before you book a trip take note of our Mandarin Oriental Lake Como review so you know what to expect.

Located just outside of the tiny village of Blevio, this imposing, almost cinematic 19th-century villa is one of the most notable houses on Lake Como, perfectly placed against the water’s edge. The lake-side views from the property’s luscious gardens reiterate just how romantic and cinematic this accommodation is, reiterating the Hong Kong-based hotel group’s penchant for procuring these enviable locations.

Opened in April 2019 after an extensive restoration of the heritage villa, the hotel marks the second Italian property for the group after Mandarin Oriental Milan, which opened in 2015. I’m also told the group is planning some more hotels for the country – most excitingly, Mandarin Oriental is taking over the historic Hotel Cristallo in The Dolomites.

Yet, it’s hard to think of any other property, let alone any plans beyond the current moment, when you’re walking through the grounds. For myself, who has never been to Lake Como before, my quick tour of the property was more than just a revelation, performing the essential – and arduous – task of planting my mind firmly in the present moment. This is living.

Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como

Exceptional

90/100

SCORE

PROS

  • Perfect location on Lake Como
  • L’Aria is an excellent restaurant
  • Plenty of social spaces for guests to mingle
  • Fleet of boats for guests to cruise the lake
  • An interesting spa with many hidden nooks

CONS

  • Room decor can feel dated at times
  • Small poolside bar feels like a missed opportunity
Mandarin Oriental Lake Como Review: A Pristine Snapshot Of La Dolce Vita (1)

Mandarin Oriental Lake Como Review – Table Of Contents

  1. Location
  2. Rooms
  3. Service

Location

Mandarin Oriental Lake Como Review: A Pristine Snapshot Of La Dolce Vita (2)

As above, this Mandarin Oriental stands proudly on the southeast banks of Lake Como, directly facing the hillside and its colourful heritage homes that shadow the eternally glistening lake. Considered part of Blevio, the property is about a 15-minute drive from the town of Como so it’s very easy to get to the hotel from somewhere like Milan, which is about a 50-minute train trip away.

I was coming from The Dolomites, so I had to first catch a train to Milan from Bolzano via Porta Nuova. The trip was easy, made even more satisfying when a sleek black Tesla bearing the Mandarin Oriental logo picked me up directly outside of the station and drove me through the stylish, narrow streets of Como. This is the hotel’s car and it’s available to all guests who want to hop between the town and the hotel.

Design & Features

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The main 19th-century Villa Roccabruna is steeped in high society and feels appropriately grand as you walk through those Neoclassical hallways, all lined by handmade wallpaper and given opulent touches throughout the common areas. From the beautiful reception with large windows looking out to the lake, to the slick late-night lounge bar to the side, it’s hard to not want to be in every space at once.

Up the winding marble staircase is a few of the prime guestrooms, including the brilliant Duplex Suite, which is the only room of its kind in the building and boasts access to a large terrace offering the perfect view. This was my room and it was a swift expression of just how charming Mandarin Oriental’s Asian influence sketched onto quintessential Italia can be.

Other standout features include the retro-looking L’Aria, the property’s signature restaurant led by Chef Massimiliano Blasone who clearly enjoys using Japanese nuances to add layers to traditional Italian food.

Then you’ve got the spa underneath all the action, hidden and exceptionally quiet with access to an indoor pool, saunas and a relaxation area that feels like an underground Bond lair. That’s not a throwaway reference either; the entire place feels cinematic, even more so when you step out into the resort’s pool, which is part of a spacious sundeck floating on the lake.

There’s a pool bar here as well, although it only really serves a few drinks and juices, feeling like a bit of a missed opportunity as some grazing platters could go very far here. Furthermore, the pool would be much more tempting if it was temperature controlled as it can be a bit overcast outside of the peak seasons.

Rooms

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My Duplex Suite pops with pure elegance, from the lounge to the upstairs bedroom and marble bathroom. Every space throughout this 66-square-metre suite feels like a true extension of the property’s common areas. Which is rare, really.

Too often, luxury hotels in Europe are thoroughly impressive when it comes to the common areas but tend to fall short in the guest rooms. The Mandarin Oriental Lake Como is an easy exception, although much of the praise I’m heaping onto the Duplex Suite should be credited to the generously sized 26-square-metre terrace, which pops out of the building and edges closer to the lake’s edge, offering the ideal scene when you wake up in the morning and the private boats are already zipping around the water.

Food & Drink

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There’s no doubt that L’Aria’s solid reputation is well-earned. Chef Massimiliano has turned in a stunning, creative menu that manages to add impressive flourishes without taking any attention away from natural flavours. He hits hard earlier in the meal with an incredibly rich medley of red prawns on carasou bread and keeps stepping it up as the meal progresses.

The tagliatelle with lobster and almond pesto is faultless, but somehow isn’t the star of the meal. That award goes to chilled Chileon sea bass that sits swimming in a moreish sauce. The full-flavoured fish is fatty and perfectly cooked.

Breakfast is another beast entirely. Decadent a la carte options are available, best served at any of the several tables closest to the edge so you can peer down from the balcony and watch the property’s fleet of boats being washed and polished for the day.

Service

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There’s a real sense that no request is too much for the team at Mandarin Oriental. I would assume as much, anyway, given the brand has a distinct reputation for always going that inch further to completely blanket guests in a harmonious, unintrusive luxury stay.

Although staff can only do so much given the type of (most likely demanding) guests you’d find at this property. It’s best to book well in advance if you want to take one of the property’s boats out on the lake. Most guests would have the same idea and desire to make the most of their stay, so it pays to get in early.

Verdict & Value

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Prices for a stay at Lake Como Mandarin Oriental would typically start at around AU$1,337 on most booking websites. And I would have expected as much for such a standout hotel situated in one of the world’s most coveted luxury vacation spots.

There are plenty of features throughout the property that make up this value, from the genuinely refreshing gardens, essential for a morning read, to L’Aria’s movie-like quality perched over the property’s dock. It’s postcard Lake Como at its finest.

Mandarin Oriental Lake Como

Address: Via E. Caronti, 69, 22020 Blevio CO, Italy
Contact: +39 031 32511

Rates at Mandarin Oriental start from around $1,337 per night.

The author, Chris Singh, stayed at Mandarin Oriental Lake Como as a guest of Mandarin Oriental.

Enjoyed our Mandarin Oriental Lake Como review? Check out our other hotel reviews around Italy:

  • Belmond Villa San Michele, Florence
  • COMO Castello Del Nero, Tuscany
  • Sofitel Rome Villa Borghese, Rome
  • Forestis, The Dolomites
  • Monastero Santa Rosa, Amalfi Coast
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