But as soon as you go through from the new glassed-in entrance, you can tell that you’re in a very different place. CastaDiva celebrated its former resident with vividly theatrical décor—heavy velvet drapes and chairs in deep jewel tones. But Mandarin Oriental’s designers have changed all of that, brightening things up with neutral colors and marble to show off the beauty of the rooms’ details, the intricacy of the plasterwork, the subtle gilding. Most of all, it opened the rooms up to the view. And what a view it is: an unobstructed panorama of Lake Como from the eastern shore. Don’t be surprised if you witness a wedding while gawking at these vistas—this setting is pure romance.
The spa has added signature Mandarin treatments such as the rebalancing Oriental Qi massage, plus rituals such as the multi-step Power of Water, ostensibly inspired by the lake itself. The physical look of the spa remains the same for the time being with a renovation scheduled for next year. One unique feature that has been retained from the original and isn’t likely to change: the floating pool and sundeck bobbing gently on the lake in front of the hotel—pure Instagram bait if ever we’ve seen it.
Under Mandarin’s banner, the restaurants have also been elevated. L’Aria serves surprising, modern takes on classical flavors, though we actually preferred the simpler, vividly-flavored dishes in the all-day dining Bar & Bistrot—an eggy spaghetti a la chitarra with ripe cherry tomatoes, basil and smoked ricotta, and baby chicken served whole, juicy and full of herbs. There’s also an outdoor terrace for al fresco dining. Time it right and you can tuck into that spaghetti while watching the sun set behind the hills on the other side of the lake. And maybe another wedding, too.