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Our Editors’ Choice Awards celebrate the exceptional hotels and resorts that, of the more than 100 we reviewed this year, stood out the most. Properties considered for our annual Editors’ Choice Awards tend to be relatively small, but we also relish grand hotels and boutique brands that consistently exceed expectations. While our selections may vary in size, style and locale, each possesses a strong personality, a sense of place and a devotion to superior service. It’s all in the details.
Moltrasio, Lake Como, Italy
Even amid this year’s refreshingly stiff competition, Passalacqua stood out. Opened in June 2022 by the owners of the nearby Grand Hotel Tremezzo, this gorgeously refurbished 18th-century palace in the unspoiled town of Moltrasio crowns a set of manicured gardens that are terraced down to Lake Como. The huge main villa contains just 12 sumptuous accommodations. Eight additional rooms are in the Palazz building above the Moroccan-inspired spa, which is itself above an atmospheric grotto. And four Casa al Lago guest rooms form a little enclave of their own down in the gardens.
The small room count and highly professional but good-humored staff foster a convivial house-party atmosphere. Our first night, we ended up having aperitifs with the manager and several other guests, joining them for a lively dinner as well. Yet it is also easy to find quiet private space, whether in one of the opulent lounges and salons lined up on the ground floor like jewels on a necklace, or beside the Como-view pool appointed with cushioned loungers and whimsical umbrellas. Mild weather enabled us to take most meals on the patio, shaded by striped tents. Leisurely breakfasts and unhurried lunches facing the deep-blue lake dotted with white sailboats engendered a sense of deep contentment.
Like the palace’s lounges and dining rooms, accommodations managed to balance unabashed opulence, historic character and contemporary comfort. The modern technology was all cleverly disguised: Easy-to-use brass switches controlled the lights and Bluetooth-enabled sound system; a mirror-clad secretary contained the minibar; and the wall-mounted television looked like a gilt-framed mirror. The gleaming bath further added to the room’s plush luster.