Il Sereno Lago di Como, in the sleepy lakeside town of Torno, Italy.

photography patricia parinejad | ©patriciaparinejad

Lake Como is synonymous with glamour: luminaries such as Madonna, John Kerry, and George Clooney have all owned villas here. But for all its shimmer and sophistication, it lacked a truly stylish place for visitors to stay.

Enter Il Sereno Lago di Como, designed by renowned Milan-based architect Patricia Urquiola on the edge of a cliff in the quiet lakeside town of Torno. The first new luxury hotel to open on the lake in decades, Il Sereno is a sleek and contemporary alternative to the historic grande dames that dot the shore.

Dominating the airy, residential-style lobby is a staircase surrounded by elegant mesh copper walls, with each wood step appearing to be suspended in midair. The 30 lakefront suites—which start at 700 square feet—are clad in natural materials, such as ceppo di Gré stone, walnut wood, and bronze. All have floor-to-ceiling windows and terraces with unobstructed views over the water and the mountains beyond. Refinement carries over into the details, too: Custom silk scarves are left for guests as pillow gifts.

photography patricia parinejad | ©patriciaparinejad

No expense was spared on the 18-acre grounds, either. Noted botanist Patrick Blanc designed two vertical gardens as high as 35 feet, along with a green sculpture made up of close to 3,000 plant species. Amid the immaculate gardens are pedestrian pathways and a 60-foot lakefront swimming pool; a small beach nearby offers direct access to the lake. Three custom Cantiere Ernesto Riva wood motorboats—from the namesake family that has been building them by hand in the nearby town of Laglio since 1771—are available for jaunts to villages around the lake. There’s no more glamorous way to get to Bellagio for dinner.

Then again, why bother? Chef Andrea Berton, whose three Milan restaurants have four Michelin stars among them, oversees the kitchen at the relaxed, indoor-outdoor Ristorante Berton Al Lago. The menu reflects the distinct regions nearby: fish and aromatic herbs from the lake, and wines, cheeses, and meats from the mountains of Valtellina.

photography patricia parinejad | ©patriciaparinejad

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Ann Abel Ann Abel was born in New Mexico, lives and works in New York, and is always looking forward to her next trip.

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