I Recently Stayed at a Villa That Was Voted ‘Best Hotel in the World'
Lake Como, Italy with its operatic stage and dramatic setting of villas, sprawling gardens and Renaissance architecture is already a bucket list trip in itself. Add on top of it a boutique hotel that overlooks the famous cerulean blue...
by Alessandra Brontsema

Lake Como, Italy with its operatic stage and dramatic setting of villas, sprawling gardens and Renaissance architecture is already a bucket list trip in itself. Add on top of it a boutique hotel that overlooks the famous cerulean blue waters and has just earned the prized spot of 'Best Hotel in the World' by World’s 50 Best Organization, and we now have ourselves a doubly dreamy destination to drool over. Say that five times fast.

Not only was Passalacqua recently named the best hotel in the world,  a huge accolade for any property—but this smashing award is especially sweet for a boutique villa that just opened in June 2022. The property perfectly embodies the famous Italian phrase “La Dolce Far Niente” (The sweetness of doing nothing). In fact, every aspect of this property is designed to transport you to a place unlike any other and create a feeling that will transcend beyond your stay.

My husband and I had a chance to stay at the ever so magical Passalaqua at the beginning of October. The boutique hotel and villa is a place where time moves slow and happiness is cultivated by the beauty around every corner.  Built in 1787, this private villa has since been transformed into an elegant and luxurious 24 Suite hotel with a “la villeggiatura” vision. La villeggiatura is an annual ritual for Italian families; an eagerly anticipated seasonal move from city house to country abode. It brings more than a change of scenery; it’s an opportunity to recharge the body, enrich the soul and expand the mind.


The History

Nestled above the village of Moltrasio, the property sits on three acres of terraced gardens meandering all the way down to one of the worlds most famous lake shorelines. It has played host to some of the world’s most well know musicians, writers, artists, and politicians. From Napoleon Bonparte to Bellini to Winston Churchill. The land was originally owned by Pope Innocent XI and is now owned by the De Santis family. One of Italy’s most well-known families, Paolo, Antonella and Valentine are more famously known for owning the ever so iconic Grand Hotel Tremezzo. Being just a third of the size of Grand Hotel Tremezzo, Passalaqua offers an even more private stay on another gorgeous part of Lake Como. 


Pictured Above:  La Double J Lounge


The Experience 

From the moment the gates opened we felt the Passalaqua magic. Upon first entering the Villa we got a wiff of the boutique hotels signature scent. This beautiful aroma is carried throughout the property in an understated and elegant way.

We first explored the ground floor of the Villa, featuring an intimate bar, a functioning library, a walk in kitchen and two dining rooms. It felt as though we had just been welcomed into a opulent private Italian Villa which is not suprising as the hotel states on their website that they are "reviving the Italian tradition of villeggiatura. As much a state of mind as a vacation, la villeggiatura was an annual ritual for Italian families, an eagerly anticipated seasonal move from city house to country abode. It brought more than a change of scenery."

As we were handed our room key, we grabbed some chocolates from the lobby candy bar, and then were led to our room. Classic Italian music played as we entered our suite setting the tone for us to feel like we had been welcomed to stay at a the home of a royal friend. We spent our time playing tennis, lounging by the pool and exploring to make sure we experienced every nook and cranny they have to offer. From the thoughtful gifts left in our room, to special treats brought to the table at breakfast, the incredible experience does not stop. More important than just the experience, is that indescribable feeling that you aim for on every vacation, but only get it at those really special places. 


The Property 

Passalacqua’s lake view pool stopped us dead in our tracks. The pool is just below the main villa with gorgeous lake como views of vintage speedboats bobbing on the water. Surrounding the pool are green loungers and striped parasol umbrellas with a hidden pops of floral patterns peeking out from underneath. Just behind the pool sits the Winter Garden, a former greenhouse that has been transformed into a colorful and playful bar. Designed by Milan based designer JJ Martin of La DoubleJ, the space features  fun mix of patterns and colors making the sun dappled Winter Garden both joyful and vibrant.  

Below the main Villa stretching all the way down to the lake are four different levels of gardens and terraces split by a spiral driveway and surrounded by breathtaking water features. From the lake level you can look back and see the iconic Villa framed by cypress trees and pristine landscaping. Starting back up from the Villa level there are two terraces for dining. The Bar Terrace that looks over the pool and the Restaurant Terrance that looks over the beautiful garden which feature, quaint seating areas and lots of water fountains, crafting a feeling of being plunked down into a bygone era. 

The next level down features the “Rose garden” and the “ancient fruit garden” which is also home to the chickens. Guests are encouraged to explore and interact with the chickens and pick fresh produce from the trees. 


Pictured Above: Junior Suite in the Villa 


The Rooms 

None of the 24 suites are similar. Everything has been hand picked to make you feel as though you are staying in an elegant Italian Villa and not one detail was missed. The Suites are spread between the historic main Villa, The Palazz and the four bedroom Casa Al Lago. You feel truly submerged in Italian culture and luxury as every detail is made and sourced by the best of the best throughout Italy. The suites feature marble, Venetian terrazzo flooring, silk curtains, impeccable stucco work, antique furniture pieces with intricate patterns and many show stopping Murano chandeliers.

At the bottom of each bed is a beautiful custom crafted bespoke leather trunk,  by leather artisan Bottega Conticelli, from which flat-screen TVs elegantly emerge. To top the elegant touches, each room also comes chock full of custom branded Passalaqua, Dyson hair tools.  We were left fully in awe of all the fabulous details. Around every corner, behind each door, within in each decorative box, something to be amazed by. 


Pictured above: Grand Junior Suite Villa Bathroom 


The Spa 

Step into the Spa located in the Palazz. As you walk in, the lobby sets the tone for what is to come.  Featuring romantic stone columns, intricately designed vaulted ceilings which can be enjoyed on large loungers. Next, change into your robe and head down below the property and into the Sottoterra: a vaulted stone chamber with a sauna and steam bath. The Sottoterra also leads to a secret passageway tunnel that goes underneath the hotel and all the way to the lake. I suggest the private 45 minute session for a relaxing afternoon going from the sauna to the steam bath as this portion is included in your stay. You can also book an appointment for a massage or facial featuring products exclusively from Dr.Barbara Strum.

The hotel also offers a variety of complimentary activities from morning yoga to flower arranging courses, gelato making and pasta making. Always something to do at Passalaqua whether it’s relaxation or diving into Italian culture. 



“Casa al Lago” provides two larger suits a bit closer to the lake. These suits sit adjacent to our favorite clay tennis court and outdoor cinema space. Since there are only 24 rooms on property, you may not see another guest while exploring these unique areas. No outside guests are allowed on property, so you really feel like you have the whole place to yourself! There is always a seat at the pool, plenty of spaces to relax to read a book, take a nap or take in the view and endless property to explore

The Food and Drink 

Echoing the country home feel, Passalaqua has an open style kitchen, encouraging guests to wander in, grab a snack and chat with the chef. Breakfast at Passalaqua might just make the trip worth it by itself. You’re drawn into the big Italian kitchen from the smells of hot coffee and warm pastries just removed from the oven. As you walk in, you will have an abundant variety of options to fill your plate (or two…or in my husband’s case 4). A chef is ready to hand prepare whatever you fancy. Eggs laid fresh from the hens that morning prepared however you like… the possibilities are endless. Every meal can be enjoyed at the open air restaurant terrace overlooking glistening Lake Como. 


Pictured above: Interior of Restaurant 


For lunch, we opted for a classic Margherita Pizza at the Bar Terrace above the pool and let me tell you, it was the BEST pizza we have ever had. After gabbing to the waiter with how obsessed we were, he shared that the Chef is from Naples and it’s his famous 20% flour and 80% water recipe that makes the pizza dough melt in your mouth delicous. 



Inside Scoop 

Located back in the main Villa is the cozy bar, perfect for an aperitivo before dinner.  As the sun sets, guests retreat to their rooms to freshen up for dinner, the candles are lit in preparation for guests to come as they please and enjoy another delicious meal.  The menu stays true to its roots, offering fresh seasonal and classic Northern Italian dishes, many sourced with ingredients from the Villa’s very own garden. 


Good for Groups

The only regret we had about our stay at Passalaqua, was not experiencing it with our friends and family. The villa is perfectly designed for romantic vacations, but is also an idyllic place to embark on a group adventure, retreat or corporate outing.

The dreamy hotels website says it all:

"Passalacqua pastimes can be as simple as a family board game played in the snug embrace of the library, as invigorating as a game of tennis on our clay court or a round of bocce within sight of the vegetable and herb garden, as absorbing as a cooking lesson with the chef, who likes nothing better than to share his culinary expertise with guests in the Villa’s open kitchen. We are especially proud of our open-air cinema evenings, where Italian and international classic movies play out under a canopy of stars.  Whether you decide to tour the lake’s historic towns and gardens, catch waterborne glimpses of Hollywood royalty’s Como boltholes, enjoy an enticing chef-prepared ‘chic-nic’ or a romantic Champagne cruise, nothing beats messing about in boats on a lake that has inspired generations of lovers, poets and dreamers."


Venue | Passalacqua

Photography Credits | Photos by Ruben Ortiz provided by Passalaqua Hotel  /

Photos  + Report by Venue Reporter Alessandra Brontsema 

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