Around halfway through lockdown, at about the same time that Dominic Cummings was bombing through County Durham testing his eyesight, my partner and I decided that it was high time we planned a break abroad.
It didn’t matter that we didn’t know, at that point, whether we were going to be able to travel by the time we actually wanted to set off, but flights were cheap, airlines needed our cash and just the thought of being able to go somewhere other than the Dog Kennel Hill Sainsbury’s was enough to lift us through the final months of interment.
The location we ultimately decided on was Lake Como. The main reason being that neither of us had ever been, but also due to the fact that George Clooney lives there (can’t argue with the big GC), it was a very short flight and Italy, having been hit hardest at the beginning of the pandemic, seemed like it might actually be the safest place to head.
In another bid to stay safe we decided to book ourselves into the most luxurious accommodation Como had to offer, just for a few nights – our collective rationale being that the wealthy tend to be more neurotic and, consequently, more likely to keep their distance. We weren’t wrong.
The Grand Hotel Tremezzo is perched directly on the hip of Como’s left leg, and it’s a candy-hued confection straight out of a Wes Anderson film. Part stretched-out Mittel-European skiing chalet, part gothic Medici mansion; the family-owned hotel’s bar – which boasts one of the best views on Como – serves a mean negroni sbagliato, there’s a floating swimming pool which juts straight out into the lake, and the whole 90-room property is full to bursting with olde world charm (not to mention some of the most fantastically reworked faces this side of Milan).
Given the fact that we were on the hunt for peak pandemic relaxation during our trip, however, the most important destination for our (my) purposes was the Grand Hotel Tremezzo’s recently refurbished spa – where social distancing was being emphatically enforced (ahhhh).
Located just next door to the main hotel building in the 18th century Villa Emilia, the Tremezzo’s T-Spa features all the wellness trappings you’d expect from one of the most exclusive hotels in the world. There’s an infinity pool overlooking the lake, there’s a heat experience – Turkish bath, Mediterranean steam room, sauna ’emotional showers’, ice fountain etc – also overlooking the lake (at this point it’s best to assume that everything at the GHT overlooks the lake), and, additionally, there’s a standalone spa suite which comes complete with a private whirlpool tub, sauna, steam bath and, of course, couples massage beds.
My partner, being of a more active persuasion, chose to go canoeing on the lake while I went for a treatment (a decision which meant I was unable to take advantage of the suite. Selfish) so instead I went to one of the regular rooms and tried the 110-minute-long T Spa Haven massage and facial. Which, aside from being excellently relaxing and energising, also involved the unexpected use of products from one of my favourite grooming brands, Officina Santa Maria Novella.
Founded by Dominican monks in Florence in 1221, Santa Maria Novella is by far the oldest pharmacy in the world, and the company’s products are a deliciously-scented legacy of that fact. Made from the highest quality natural raw materials following the artisanal procedures established by the aforementioned clergymen, none of the family-run company’s products are tested on animals and everything is manufactured within the Tuscan capital and environs.
Indeed, the Grand Hotel Tremezzo is one of only very few spas permitted to carry Santa Maria Novella’s products, meaning that the quality maniac in me was instantly sold. Refreshed, revitalised and smelling as good as a freshly scrubbed altar boy on a Sunday morning I headed back into the world and onto Lake Como for a paddle.
It didn’t matter that the moment I got into the canoe and lay down to sunbathe I overturned. I’d come, I’d relaxed and I’d seen one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world (all the while staying and spa-ing at one of the best hotels in the world), and there was nothing capsizing, Cummings or his sketchy corneas could do to make me feel down about it.
© Photographer:Roberto Bonardi
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