Reed Travel Features
LUGANO, Switzerland -- Asked to conjure up the perfect spot from
which to experience the delights of this Italianate harbor city, a
person couldn't do better than the Villa Prin-cipe Leopoldo.
Built by a prince and fit for a king, the 37-room, five-star
hideaway is tucked neatly into the slope of the Collina d'Oro, the
so-called hill of gold, overlooking Lake Lugano.
Few monarchs ever had a more majestic aerie from which to ponder
their elevated station in life.
Less than a five-minute car ride up from the town of Lugano on a
twisting road cut precariously into the hillside, the villa is a
glorious old-world mansion that combines the ease and grace of an
elegant past with the modern comforts that make upscale vacationing
so enriching to the soul.
Built in 1868 as the home of Prince Leopoldo von Hohenzollern
and a private residence until as late as 1957, the villa was turned
into a hotel in 1986 and refurbished in January 1996.
Guests approach the low-slung property by way of a circular
driveway that leads to a gently concave, red-ocher structure
fronted by a neatly terraced, sweeping entrance.
Inside, the amply windowed lobby is all lightness and space,
with the hotel desk off to one side and entrances to the villa's
gourmet restaurant and Piano Bar directly ahead but discreetly
veiled from direct view.
Meeting rooms, which come equipped with the usual accoutrements,
such as projectors and laser pointers, branch off a balcony that
extends above the rear of the lobby.
The guest rooms are downstairs, on two levels, and they range
from ample standard units to deluxe suites.
All of the tastefully appointed and richly furnished rooms
feature king-size beds; a private terrace overlooking Lake Lugano
or the hotel's gardens and grounds; satellite television; robes and
slippers; heating and air-conditioning controls; a minibar; a desk
and a table; nightstands with reading lamps, and direct-dial
An upgraded telephone system, including voice mail, was
scheduled to be installed by mid-January.
The doors to the accommodations' twin bathrooms are
mirror-covered, as are nearby twin clothes closets, and the
ramifying images within images that result when all of the
reflecting doors are ajar can be a bit disorienting to a client
looking for his shoes and not the shower.
The villa offers a fitness room, and two of the suites come with
Jacuzzis. In addition, guests can swim in the hotel's heated
outdoor pool in spring, summer and early fall or play tennis on two
Management at the villa is particularly proud of the property's
Although the hotel itself might have rooms to spare in winter's
low season, on one frosty December evening, the 80-seat Restaurant
Leopoldo did not appear to lack for diners lured from the city and
environs by an intriguing continental menu and a large wine
The restaurant, with three well-appointed dining rooms, opens
out to terrace dining in gazebos during the summer.
The Limonaia, the villa's lunch and breakfast venue, affords a
splendid view of the hotel's pool.
Room rates at the Villa Principe Leopoldo range from $316 to
$416 a night, single or double occupancy, November through March.
In April, July and August, the midseason, the rates range from $350
Rates in the high season, May, June, September and October, as
well as Easter, Christmas and New Year's, range from $400 to $559 a
The four largest suites cost from $750 to $1,166 a night.
Included in the tariff is a room-service continental breakfast
or buffet breakfast in the Limonaia, VAT and tips, transfers from
Lugano-Agno Airport and, perhaps most important, expert and
Available through 1997 is a promotion that offers guests one
free room night with every two booked.
For more information or to book the Villa Principe Leopoldo,
which is a member of Relais & Chateux, call the Gor-ham New
York (a sister hotel of the Leopoldo) at (800) 737-0710 or (212)