Villa Crespi is much more than just another five-star Italian hotel. It is a unique 19th century Arabic-influenced palatial villa overlooking one of Italy’s secret lakes – Lago d’Orta. The building itself is an architectural marvel, both inside and out, taking guests into a land of fantasy – with handcrafted Arabic-inspired decorative detail and a minaret that reaches high above the villa as well as Florintine mosaics, Moreno chandeliers, four poster beds, silk walls, parquet floorboards and original features that simply could not be recreated today. What’s more, gastronomic connoisseurs come from near and far to experience the manager’s exceptional culinary talents – Antonino Cannavacciuolo manages the hotel and 2-michelin star restaurant with his wife and his fame around Italy on TV shows like Masterchef has led to him being dubbed “the Gordan Ramsay of Italy”. It has been said in connoisseur circles that this is one of the top Relaix & Chateux hotels, but in truth, it really is in a class of its own.
GUEST EXPERIENCE HIGHLIGHTS:
§ Design: Villa Crespi is a creative masterpiece developed by local architect Angelo Colla, who was commissioned by trading pioneer Cristoforo Beningo Crespi in 1879. The ambitious dream to create an ostentatious and authentic Arabic-styled villa was finally realised 30 years later. Held in the hands of the royal family until it first opened as a hotel in 1999. 20 years on, it still retains its unique design charms from Arabic embellished atriums to marble staircases, Florintine mosaics and ornaments befitting the Prince of Persia.
§Accommodation: One of the highlights of Villa Crespi is the intimate nature of the establishment. With only 14 rooms, guests can enjoy up to 51 square metres of privacy in their suites with traditional royal furnishings and inspiring designs. Having stayed in one of the Premier suites, we enjoyed sweeping views of the lake and park, framed by large windows and extravagant silk curtains.
§ Gastronomy: Boasting two Michelin stars, run by celebrity chef Mr. Cannavacciuolo and ranked by Tripadvisor as “Third best restaurant in the world” and “Second best in Europe”, it is fair to say that this is a gastronomy experience of the highest level. The restaurant at Villa Crispi is the crown jewel of the establishment, spread over 4 dining rooms (including a Verandah) and housing a team of talented staff who prepare taste journeys that will inspire the palette throughout the experience. The chef has combined the best tastes of Italy, with pasta and fish from his native Napoli and cheeses, meats and white truffle from the alpine regions. In addition to the regional flavours, the meals are also adorned with herbs from the on-site herb garden and honey from Villa Crispi’s beehive. We were informed how the chef has combined 3 elements in each plate – crunchy, sauce and solids – to ensure the palate remains active throughout the taste journey and we can certainly attest to the fact that it truly is an incredible experience for the palate. Our Carpe Diem menu was paired thoughtfully with wines from the 1,800 labels in the cellar and included:
~ Six welcome tasting plates – each with a delicate taste sensation from local prosciutto adorning a pillow of pastry containing Mozzarella to little macarons glittering in gold leaf. This was served with a Champagne-styled Piemonte DOC Spumante 2013 dedicated exclusively to Cannavacciuolo (20% Chardonnay and 80% Pinot Noir, prepared as per Champagne standards).
~ A chef’s welcome with a fresh sardine treated in salt atop a home-made slice of brioche next to an immaculately prepared Mozzarella ball, paired with an exceptional Pinot Grigio (Lis Neris Gris 2017).
~ An entrée which featured marinated fresh sea bass, with green apple and celeriac served with crunchy sea bass skin and a delightfully surprising taste sensation of tosazu vinegar dressing. This was appropriately paired with a more delicate French Chardonnay (Regnard Reserve 2015).
~ Tagliatelle made from Borlotti beans, accompanied with fresh mussels and chili and presented like a piece of art. This paired with Lapeyre Mantoulan 2012.
~ Roasted baby pork stuffed with chanterelle mushrooms and served with apricots and carrots. Paired with a woody red wine U Neigru from the Cinque Terra.
~ Four cheeses from the trolley of 16 cheeses, including the exceptional Comte cheese (which has a complex flavour and a maturity of over 30 months).
~ Pre-dessert with an apricot sorbet pillow and a creamy vanilla variation.
~ Extravagant profiterole-styled dessert with a layer of chocolate and flavours of almond paired with a German Reisling Spatlese from the Mosel (Kerpen 2003).
§ Wellness: The villa offers a range of beauty treatments (anti-aging and rejuvenation experiences) as well as massages, such as the sound of silence (a full body deep relax including a facial mask) or a couple’s treatment.
§ Make sure to book at the two-Michelin star restaurant during your stay – this is one of the reasons guests visit Villa Crespi.
§ The villa is open all year except for 1 month in January. We recommend visiting in spring to see the whole region bursting with colourful flowers. During the warm months, guests can also enjoy watersports nearby.
§ Stay in the Scheherazade Suite for exceptional opulence – including red silk adorned walls, a four poster bed, an antechamber and a masterfully crafted marble bathroom.
§ We recommend visiting Isola del San Giulio – a romantic island on the lake, as well as The Sacred Mount of Orta (only a few minute’s walk away), which is UNESCO World Heritage and features 21 chapels dedicated to St. Francis with 900 frescos and 366 statues.
§ The minaret above Villa Crespi is an exceptional location for marriage proposals. This can be organised by the hotel and although it hasn’t become a social media sensation yet (as it is a relatively recent offer), it is only a matter of time. In addition, the hotel can be booked out for remarkable wedding experience (accommodating up to 120 guests in the restaurant).