Seven years ago, while living in New York, my husband brought me to Switzerland on vacation to show off his beautiful country. One of the cities he was most excited about flaunting was Lugano, in Ticino, the Italian part of Switzerland.
We drove directly to Villa Principe Leopoldo where we had a table for lunch. The drive there, the majestic entrance and the view sufficed to make me want to move! I immediately fell in love with the spirit of the place, the language, the architecture, the landscape and of course the cuisine! It was so interesting to witness such diversity in culture and language in one single country. In only two hours we were transported to an entirely different place (even easier travels with the new Gotthard Base tunnel). Nothing about Ticino reminded me of Zurich, except for the flag, the currency, the safety and the obvious opulence 🙂
Seven years later, we now live in Zurich and Ticino is our Go-To when chasing the sun and in need of a mini vacation, hassle-free. We love it because the climate reminds us of Los Angeles where we both lived for many years. Seeing the blue sky and the palm trees, even for a weekend, somehow makes the winter easier to bare. While the rest of Switzerland endures extreme temperatures and a lack of sun, Ticino relishes in its plentiful supply of Vitamin D!
I’m just surprised that a place like Lugano, Switzerland’s third largest financial city, surrounded by magnificent mountains and standing on glacial Lake Lugano with all the beauty that they have to offer, does not attract foreign tourists as much as it should. It seems like Ticino is not known to the world as a holiday destination. Not sure why but I hope it will change soon.
Luckily, over the years I have been fortunate enough to experience different facets of Lugano and stay at different types of hotels. Before describing my top three from the Ticino Hotel Group, I will say that all of them have room for amelioration (as does any business) but what they all have in common is a team of people who are passionate, eager and open to change. Thinking back to my experience, I will certainly remember each establishment and all that it had to offer but what I will not forget for sure is the impression that the top managers and staff left with me. Mistakes and lack of attention to certain details can be amended but the spirit of people cannot (at least not easily). Not only was the management team generous, kind, open-minded but also fun to be around – they take their business very seriously but not themselves and can enjoy a good joke which is so important in my opinion. (maybe it’s the Italian in them)
So without any further ado, let’s begin our Lugano hotel tour!
Villa Sassa is a 19th-century villa best known for its grand terrace, its magnificent views and its 14 Gault Millau points restaurant Ai Giardini di Sassa. The bedrooms are spacious with lots of natural light. The flower garden is magnificent, especially as the flowers begin to bloom. Plenty opportunities to be active between the spa, the gym and the in-door / out-door pools. And being minutes away from the city center makes it a perfect location for business meetings.
Villa Sassa was once considered THE hotel where to be. Unfortunately today, it has lost a little of its luster but it is fighting hard to gain it back. As mentioned before, details can be easily remedied as long as the management is on board and open.
For over a century, since 1914, Kurhaus Cademario is known to be a wellness paradise – at 850 meters above sea level, it overlooks the lake Lugano as well as the Malcantone mountains. It is mostly sunny, free from fog, and protected from cold winds. What more to ask for?
La Cucina restaurant
One can get very hungry after a nice morning and afternoon of pampering! 14 Gault & Millau points La Cucina offers a delicious menu, filling and guilt-free! Not to mention the fabulous view! Best part, I discovered White Merlot! Lugano is known to produce one of the few real white Merlots in the world.
There is a good reason why the Kurhaus has been devoted to well-being for over a century – DOT Spa is located at a strategic point of extraordinary energy intensity and strength.
To amplify these influences, the area was designed to leverage and integrate the 5 geomantic elements that rule the Earth: water, wood, fire, earth, and metal. A MUST try!
But if you don’t like to be naked in the sauna and hamam, or see others naked, then it may not be the perfect spa for you!
Have you ever wondered what a prince’s house might look like? A stay at Villa Principe Leopoldo will give you a taste of it! The former private home of German Emperor Wilhelm’s brother in law, located on picturesque peninsula Collina d’Oro (Golden Hill) is the best kept secret in town. Its beautiful landscape and views are matched by its exquisite service, amenities, on site winery and 17 Gault & Millau points restaurant led by Chef and legend Dario Ranza for the past 27 years. If you want a special experience, indulge in style at Villa Principe Leopoldo, even for one evening.
Beyond hotel hopping, there is so much to see and do in the region. Ticino is undeniably a destination to consider when planning your holidays. Don’t wait to book a weekend!
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