'Above it all, literally and figuratively' was our reporter's reaction to this former holiday home of Leopold of Hapsburg, which offers a prince's seclusion and a prince's view of Lugano, ferries criss-crossing the lake and Mont Bru and Monte San Salvatore. On the curved terrace, colour is provided by lavender and azaleas, the perfume by jasmine, which climbs the 14 columns and hangs from the long balcony above.
A hotel only since 1986, the original building has been preserved, with parquet floors, heavy chandeliers and trompe-l'oeil paintings. The hillside under the terrace was dug away to build the bedrooms. All are junior suites, with picture windows, walk-in closets, electronic shutters, huge mirrors and furnishings of green or pink with gold creating a rich but uncluttered look. Dramatic was the verdict on the lemon-print fabric and black rattan chairs of the breakfast-room, which looks out on the fan-shaped swimming-pool. Everywhere are portraits of nobility, busts of Roman emperors and English sporting prints. The restaurant serves imaginative Italian dishes as well as caviar and lobster. This is luxury without overwhelming formality. Since our last edition, the hotel has recently opened KISO, a luxurous and exclusive spa, which they call the 'Jewel of the hotel'. Reports on this would be welcome.