Passalacqua winner of the World's 50 Best Hotels list. Showing the view of Lake Como from the pool

Italy dominates World’s 50 Best Hotels list

News Travel & Tourism

On 19th September, the World’s 50 Best Hotels list was revealed. Topping the list was the luxury Lake Como hotel, Passalacqua.

The World’s 50 Best Hotels list is based on votes received from 580 international experts within the hotel and travel industry. There is a 50/50 gender balance.

Twenty-one of the award-winning properties can be found in Europe. The luxury 18th-century villa hotel, Passalacqua, situated on Lake Como was named the best hotel in the world for 2023.

Tim Brooke-Webb, Managing Director for The World’s Best Hotels said, “Huge congratulations to Passalacqua for the achievement of making it to number 1, just two years after opening.”

As the awards’ website states, Passalacqua “has just 24 rooms, overlooks Italy’s Lake Como. It is owned by the De Santis family, local hoteliers for whom hospitality is a lifelong mission. Indeed, the family’s 41-year-old daughter, Valentina, conceived and masterfully curated every aspect of the award-winning villa.”

“Grazie, grazie. You can hear from my voice that I’m very emotional,” said owner Valentina De Santis in an exclusive interview with 50 Best. “Passalacqua has been a love story since the very first moment. I give all credit to my parents, who had this dream together with me.”

Passalacqua’s general manager, Silvio Vettorello, adds: “What makes Passalacqua special is the people who work here, who work with us. It’s special because every one of our colleagues is special.”

“Silvio taught us ten years ago to believe in what we dreamt, saying that ‘if you can dream it, you can do it’,” continues De Santis. “And now we made this dream come true. To our colleagues back home, I want to say: you are the heroes. As a big family, nothing is impossible.”

Exploring Passalacqua

50 best Hotels Instagram account shows Passalacqua – winner

The villa was built in the 18th century on land once owned by Pope Innocent XI, it was also once the residence of one of Italy’s most famous opera composers, Vincenzo Bellini. The venue has hosted many historical figures including Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill.  The De Santis family – already owners of Lake Como’s Grand Hotel Tremezzo – acquired it in 2018.

Passalacqua has 24 suites, each individually designed, melding grand Italian baroque style with a sense of understated sophistication. Three separate buildings make up the property. The 12-room main villa features Bellini’s own balustraded music room and piano. There is also the eight-room converted stables characterised by ancient exposed beams, plus the four-room villa by the lake including a beautiful private dining area and fireplace.

The seven acres of terraced gardens are dotted with 15 different water fountains. There are also a bocce court, al-fresco gym, olive grove and tennis court. The converted stables also serve as the location for the spa. It extends into the ancient tunnels excavated under the property in the 18th century.

Other Italian hotels on the list

The Four Seasons Firenze in Florence made number nine on the list. The Best Hotels site describes it as “an oasis of Italian tranquil luxury. Step through the doors of the 15th-century renovated Medici palace to be greeted by grand floral displays and frescoes, before being shown to one of its 116 bedrooms adorned in antique furnishings.”

Aman Venice took 14th spot, being described as “seductive opulence and slick understatement, accented by Italian aristocratic touches and mesmerising ceiling artwork.”

“Each generation has honed its offering, perfecting its all-white, ceramic-filled luxury to match its million dollar-view”, says Best Hotels about 19th on the list – Le Sirenuse in Positano.

A “film-set-worthy hotel is a make-believe fantasy. It is a recently built, pastoral Italian settlement complete with fortifications, prettily paved alleyways, a bell-towered church and central piazza.” The award site is describing no. 20 on the list, Borgo Egnazia in Savelletri.

Italian hotels on the World’s Best 50 Hotels list

  • Passalacqua, Lake Como – Winner
  • Four Seasons Firenze, Florence – 9th
  • Aman Venice, Venice – 14th
  • Le Sirenuse in Positano, 19th
  • Borgo Egnazia in Savelletri, 20th

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