My Trip to Magical Lake Lugano
Where Switzerland and Italy meet is a place so magical you’ll never want to leave.
Lugano. They call it the “Monte Carlo of Switzerland”, and (unlike Monte Carlo), I absolutely love it. And not just because they film James Bond there. The first thing we noticed about the area is that the views in Lugano are unreal. Lakes and mountains and lusciousness. Everywhere. At the intersection of the Swiss Alps and Italy, Lake Lugano’s scenic beauty attracts adventurers from around the world.
We quickly settled into one of Lugano’s best spots to stay, the super-fab bespoke hotel, the VIEW.
We arrived by way of France, in a car packed up for a two-week road trip. When we pulled up to our hotel, The VIEW Lugano, our personal butler (yes, that’s right — each guest gets a butler to cater to their every whim) greeted us and showed us to our suite.
The first thing I noticed was the impressive view from our oversized terrace overlooking Lake Lugano (known as the magical lake in the mountains).
Our suite was a perfect mixture of sophistication and creativity; the yacht-themed decor and giant windows allowed the suite to showcase the best of nature, mixed with the genius of human design.
The VIEW calls themselves a bespoke hotel for a reason — they’re big on personalization. Give them all your preferences in advance (from reading material, to pillow types, to the mini bar, to room scent, to bath salts and shower gel — even the type of toilet paper!), and they’ll make sure your suite is teed up exactly to your liking in advance of your arrival. And in your room, you have an iPad from which you can control the mood lighting (in about 5 different ways), the blinds, the temperature, music and more.
The VIEW truly is a place after my own heart. I’ve stayed in some nice hotels, but this is unquestionably one of the most luxurious — and the most bespoke. I also appreciated the perfectly-trained hotel and restaurant staff, who would have pleased even the Queen.
While in Lugano, we were treated to several meals at the hotel’s restaurant, and they did not disappoint. True to the bespoke nature of the hotel, they had a five-course vegan meal prepared for us. Each course was incredible. Packed with flavor and created using locally-sourced organic ingredients. Throughout our stay, the restaurant always had freshly picked ingredients for food daily and an abundance of local and international wines. What more could a girl ask for?
The breakfasts served in our suite were similarly delightful. Their vegan lattes and pastries, and fresh fruit hit the spot.
As Michael and I started to explore, we wanted to experience the Lake Lugano area a bit more, so we went for a drive. But not just any drive; we got into a cute little electric Smart car –the hotel provides them– and we went searching for beauty and for trouble. Ok, so I made that last part up; Michael and I have tamed since our dating days (but only a bit!). After we nicknamed our car “Pugsy,” we started to take in the sights of this wonderful Mediterranean climate. Pugsy took us down the windy road the hugs Lake Lugano. It was possibly the most beautiful drive I’ve ever been on. The hilly lake views were stunning, and we passed many beautiful gardens; a lakefront church, the Church of St. Mary of the Angels; and all the way south to Morcote, which took about half an hour.
Morcote has been named the prettiest village in all of Switzerland, is home to a 12th Century castle, and some of the most picturesque architecture anywhere. It also has narrow, medieval alleys unchanged over hundreds of year. But let me explain: these narrow alleys aren’t like the dark, creepy alleys in a big city; they’re alleys that invite you, that tease you, that beg you to explore them. They whisper to your soul and say, “come find out what you’re missing. You never know who–or what–you’ll run into.” So we did. And we were not disappointed at what we discovered. The homes, the foods, the stores, the people. All so unique. All so local. All so welcoming.
We climbed all the way to the top, where we found a tiny church next to a tiny graveyard. This place was definitely one of my faves: to see a place so unencumbered by modern development that allows you to sit, to think, to ponder, and to truly feel happiness…. I kept thinking maybe in man’s rush to build more and acquire more stuff so that he could make himself happier, he was actually doing the opposite: making himself unhappy. #deepthoughts
After doing some restful meditation lakeside in Morcote, Pugsy started to take us back to Lugano. All that wandering and pondering had given us an appetite. We stopped at Ristorante Capo San Martino, a restaurant with a big outdoor patio that’s perched atop a cliff which overhangs the lake below. As we took in the incredible view and indulged in oysters and organic white wine, we daydreamed about making Lugano our regular vacation spot.
As we drove along the edge of Lake Lugano, we noticed the imposing structure of Casino di Campione (the largest casino in Europe which my hubby called “Bellagio in the Alps”) across the water. We eventually made our way to the Giardino Belvedere, a large open-air modern art museum with olive trees, cork oaks, and palm trees. And, of course, lots of art.
The next day we explored the town of Lugano. Full of cute little shops and charming restaurants, you could comfortably explore the entire downtown in a day or two. We had dinner at a waterfront restaurant with one Michelin star, called Ristorante Arté. It’s a can’t-miss experience. The decor changes regularly, with various art installations, but the food is reliably delicious, and the view sublime. They had no problem coming up with an incredible vegan dinner (6 courses!) and all the ingredients were not only local but also organic.
And, of course, every glam girl knows that no trip is complete without a spa day! The VIEW has everything you need to indulge and relax. Their super-modern spa has 2 saunas, 2 Hammams, a Himalayan salt room, 2 chromotherapy showers, 4 Thalassotherapy treatment rooms, a ladies-only Kneipp path, a relax area, a large indoor pool and a Vitality pool with a heated whirlpool, a hydromassage circuit and water jets. Whew! On top of all those goodies, they have a super-long menu of high-tech treatments. Mike and I had massages and body treatments, and spent a long time just hanging out in the pool and hot tub.
There was just so much to do and see in Lugano that it’s hard to put it all into words. But out of all of my globe-trotting adventures, this place is at the top of my list. As a lover of nature and of the less explored things in the world, I feel Lugano is a great trip to relax and unwind. If you get the chance to go, be sure to look out for Pugsy, he’ll make sure your experience there is just that much more fun.
The best time to go is in the late spring and early fall, when the foliage is in bloom but the tourists haven’t come out in full force yet.