Photo: Booking

Lake Como's Hotel Royal Victoria Is A Must-Stay In Northern Italy

Italy Epic Stays
by Hannah D. Cooper Apr 18, 2024

An idyllic setting on the shores of Lake Como is enough to kindle wanderlust but why not push the boat out and stay in the hotel where a British monarch once spent the night? Queen Victoria slept at what later was rechristened the Hotel Royal Victoria the year after her coronation. Before being reimagined as a hotel fit for royalty, the building had humble origins as a mill. One thing that hasn’t changed is the spectacular views of Northern Italy’s cherished lake.

The Hotel Royal Victoria by R Collection Hotels is located on the southern edge of Varenna. Direct trains take just over an hour from Milan, making this small resort town on the eastern side of Lake Como an ideal contender if you’re traveling without a car. Whether, like the monarch, you’re celebrating a recent career milestone or are looking to experience the Dolce Vita lifestyle, here’s what to expect from this historic luxury hotel in Northern Italy.

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Rooms with a view on Lake Como

Photo: Booking
Photo: Booking
Photo: Booking

This four-star hotel is composed of 39 elegant guest rooms and four refined junior suites. Classic rooms overlooking the main square in Varenna are kept simple with premium satin linens and plum or Champagne paintwork. Deluxe rooms peer over the lake while the top-tier prestige rooms go one step further with a furnished balcony. Go on, order an aperitif, and drink up those views – the boat tour can wait.

Suites at the Hotel Royal Victoria are ideal if you appreciate extra living room while on the road or plan on returning to basecamp for regular siestas. All junior suites have a seating area while bathrooms come with a tub and a separate chromotherapy shower. In terms of views, these are comparable to the prestige rooms so the main gain in upgrading is the additional space.

Spa and pool facilities

The outdoor pool is the star of this coveted Lake Como hotel. You’ll enjoy an eyeful of the famous lake and the surrounding mountains from both the water and the poolside where refreshments are served.

Meander your way through the grounds and you’ll soon wind up at the Hotel Royal Victoria’s spa suite. Hotel guests are invited to reserve a private pampering session and claim exclusive use of the oak sauna, eucalyptus steam bath, and relaxation zone. These facilities feature customizable lighting and an audio kit to set your own spa soundtrack.

Casual and fine dining at the Hotel Royal Victoria

Hotel Royal Victoria by R Collection Hotels gives guests the choice of three restaurants. Ristorante Visteria has a panoramic dining room plus a verandah granting views of the lake towards Bellagio. It’s hard to tear your eyes away from the water but do take the time to admire the artful food – particularly if you opt for the tasting menu. The chef is known to pop out of the kitchen from time to time to hear the verdict on his latest creations. This and the à la carte is a fusion of Italian and Mediterranean styles and all desserts and pastries are made in-house.

The Victoria Grill is a laid-back affair where pizza and tiramisu are served with a view of Varenna’s Old Town. Alfresco appetizers and spritzes are best enjoyed under the vines in the waterfront Bar Giardino.

Around the hotel

Photo: Booking
Photo: Booking
Photo: Booking

Varenna has all the charm of bustling Bellagio (a 15-minute hop on the ferry) while benefiting from a calmer experience in the evening. The town does tend to fill up during the day as day trippers arrive to marvel at the waterside gardens and savor views across the lake. Come nightfall, it’s noticeably quieter and you can enjoy a handheld stroll along the Passeggiata degli Innamorati – the Lover’s Promenade.

Wake up early and idle through the hotel gardens to the sister property. Hotel Villa Cipressi by R Collection is another heritage manor on a separate plot of land. This garden is open to the public and you’ll appreciate a head start as spring tips into the summer high season.

Villa Monastero stands right next door to Villa Cipressi. The House Museum at Villa Monastero comprises 13 rooms furnished with 19th-century art and carpentry and a sumptuous neo-Pompeian bathroom. Cypress trees, yuccas, citrus fruits, and rare botanical species bring a bounty of color to the gardens and terraces. It’s no surprise that these two garden villas are the destinations for wedding photoshoots in Northern Italy.

Journey back further in time at Castello di Vezio. It’s a 40-minute climb to reach this 12th-century defensive castle and the views over Lake Como justify every step.

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