Villa D’Este

This is a jewel in Lake Como’s hotel scene and frankly quite out of my budget, but I couldn’t resist popping in for lunch to explore. I’m so glad I did because it’s a destination in and of itself.  It’s an absolute must-see!

The Welcome

Sitting prettily like precious stones on a necklace, grand hotels dotted along Lake Como take us back in time. Many are renovated private villas with sprawling, manicured gardens. Villa D’Este is a grand estate in Cernobbio that served as a female convent in the 15th century and summer palace to the British Queen Caroline of Brunswick in the 1800’s.

It can’t simply be described as a hotel: it’s a destination in and of itself. The former queen’s legacy includes anglicised sections in the 25 acres of landscaped Renaissance gardens that remain intact today.

Sweet Suite

No two rooms are alike at Villa D’Este and each one has a unique touch: from period furnishings and silk-brocade drapes to oil paintings that take up entire walls. This image was taken from an online source – I didn’t get a chance to personally visit the bedrooms. Gotta save something for next time!

Time to Relax

Even the quality of service seems to come from another era, with attendants ready to fluff your towel as you lay at the floating pool that juts out into the lake.

Despite the sheer scale and luxury of the place, it is still somehow intimate, creating the illusion that a guest is staying at the home of a (very wealthy), dear friend. Case in point: over lunch, a waiter brings over a bottle of chilled prosecco and plate of grapes that wasn’t consumed at another table for us to enjoy free of charge.

The menus are funny – the ones given to the ladies don’t have prices on them 😀

Can’t wait to come back and experience a stay here someday! It’s the stuff made of hotel dreams…


Enjoy a long, lazy afternoon lunch and embrace the dolce far niente mentality in this laid back, chic ensemble:



Villa D'Este



White swing dress
81 AED –

Vince Camuto wedge heel sandals
435 AED –

Betsey Johnson handbag purse
325 AED –

BaubleBar daisy jewelry
120 AED –

Steve Madden straw beach hat
84 AED –

Yves Saint Laurent moisturizing lipstick
125 AED –


Guest Post by Rupert Wright of Ashbright
Paris holds no terrors for well-heeled travellers, who can check into one of the city’s eleven palaces such as ­ the Georges V, Plaza Athénée, Le Bristol or my favourite, Le Meurice. But for those on any kind of budget, finding a decent place to stay in the French capital can be a challenge. Bedrooms smaller than a bathroom, bathrooms smaller than a bidet, we’ve all stayed at one of them and lived to regret it. So, it’s with great pleasure that I have found almost the perfect Parisian hotel – and you don’t need to be a tech billionaire to afford it. The Bedford has been family owned and run for more than a hundred years, combining Swiss roots, French flair and English tradition. It benefits from strong leadership, attention to detail, and a staff eager to look after you. With just 140 rooms, it is large enough to intimate, but not so large that you are anonymous. It’s a 4 star, but deserves more.
The rooms
Parquet flooring; high ceilings; comfortable beds and pillows; keys rather than plastic cards; and best of all, real switches, that turn the lights on and off. The Bedford has sensibly ignored many of the technical traps that can make staying in a hotel room more challenging than setting up your own satellite transmission site. The result is a place that combines understated elegance with modern touches and old school service. Some rooms overlook the rue de l’Arcade, others look over a courtyard, but all are a decent size and a muted colour. There is air-conditioning too, which is a relief when the summer strikes.
Breakfast is a buffet in a glorious belle époque room, boasting stucco reliefs and a glass roof. Dinner happens here too, French cuisine and fairly formal. There’s also a relaxed bistro/bar that serves meals and cocktails.
A stone’s throw from the Place de la Madeleine, the Place de la Concorde and the Tuileries Gardens, and the Opera, this is one of the best areas to stay in Paris. (Marcel Proust used to live just around the corner). It is a lively area, with great boutiques, wine bars and an eclectic mix of restaurants, Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Korean, Lebanese and French too.
Don’t miss
The Bedford knows that many people like to travel with their pets, so they are allowed to stay too.
HOTEL BEDFORD, 17, RUE DE L’ARCADE 75008 PARIS Tel. : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 77 Fax : +33 (0)1 44 94 77 97 More information at
Rooms from €250; Suites from €450


Sign up for our newsletter

Sara Hamdan

Welcome to a magazine editor’s guide to luxury hotels and what to wear when you’re there! My work has appeared in: The International New York Times, Rolling Stone, Variety and CNN Travel. I’ve held editorial roles at VIVA Magazine, Dubai Magazine and Stylist Arabia.  Now, I freelance for the likes of Google, CNN and Savoir Flair!

Editing travel pages was always my favourite part of working for lifestyle magazines. I started this blog out of a love of beautiful hotels that provide the fairytale escape of a day as a princess where breakfast is a buffet and chocolates appear on my pillow.

PR queries, feedback and compliments? Email!