This is where we would go to escape the stress of modern life. The appeal of this 160-year-old summer villa is the sense of seclusion, perhaps a throwback to the convent which once stood on the site. Throughout, old beams and exposed brickwork contrast with the owner's private collection of contemporary Swiss paintings and sculpture.
   Brigitte Piazzoli runs the hotel with her husband, Silvano, whose menus of French and Italian classics have made a name for the small Racco restaurant. Our breakfast was one of the best we had in Switzerland: truly fresh orange juice, delicious breads, cut-your-own cheese, and a fruit salad full of strawberries. In the main house, four panorama rooms on the top floor boast conservatories. All bedrooms are large, with chic Italian furniture and unusual colour schemes such as plum and grey or mango and dark gold; but beware the nightmare inducing Franz Falch painting in number 36. Rooms in the Casa Azzurra annexe are smaller but have private patios for sunbathing and direct access to the garden, full of potted gardenias and shaded by two enormous paulownia trees.