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Francis Bown, Bown's Best

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See below for the latest November 2015 Reviews

Castadiva Resort & Spa, Blevio, Lake Como, Italian Lakes, Italy | Bown's Best


The Castadiva Resort & Spa is quiet, luxurious, exclusive, refined and beautiful. Its heart is a villa which was rebuilt in the Liberty style in the first decade of the 20th Century. Around its grounds are dotted the modern additions, which have been designed to merge into the hillside and therefore do no violence to what is an idyllic spot. Indeed, the entrance on the high lakeside road is so discreet that I almost missed it. I had to manœuvre the hire car to deal with the sharp angle, before trundling down the steep drive towards the Lake. But then I was there, and I was quickly surrounded by friendly members of staff. It was immediately apparent that this was somewhere special.

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Excelsior Palace Hotel, Rapallo, Italy | Bown's Best


Some of the loveliest views on the Ligurian Coast are those over the Gulf of Tigullio. And there, exactly where it should be, is the Excelsior Palace Hotel. It was opened in 1901 as the Kursaal Rapallo, and through its doors strode many of the grandest people in Europe, including the Duke and Duchess of Windsor and King Farouk of Egypt. Part of the original building (which is prettily quaint) has become the current establishment’s health and fitness club. The rest of the building was re-worked and remains impressively large, for it houses 127 rooms. It would certainly not look out of place in Vienna.

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Palace Hotel, Como, Italian Lakes, Italy | Bown's Best


Como is a charming city. Its various claims to fame include its production of fine silk, its remarkable cathedral, its renowned opera house, its preserved historical centre and its important collection of modernist buildings. But, of course, what attracts most visitors is its location on the beautiful lake to which it gives its name. To stay in this charming city, you will need a charming hotel. And I have one for you, looking straight at the lake and within easy walking distance of all the sights. It is the Palace.

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Francis Bown 2003
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