Switzerland’s lowest lying town (196 metres above sea level) sits beside Lake Maggiore and has a distinctly Mediterranean feel. Italian is the native language here. Indeed, it’s close to the border and picture-postcard pretty, with a relatively warm climate – in comparison to the higher altitude areas of the country. The vehicle-free Borgo Old Town is captivating, not least for couples in search of a romantic alternative getaway. There are buildings dating back to the 12th century and some fascinating boutiques dotted around the maze of cobbled streets. Ascona is a year-round destination for the discerning traveller and these are the choicest places to stay.
Hotel Eden Roc
In a prime position overlooking the water, this hotel is spread across three buildings, each with its own personality. Native architectural designer Carlo Rampazzi has created a decor reflecting the retro vibes of Eden Roc’s forty-year history. There’s no shortage of things to do onsite: the hotel has its own watersports school, a kids’ club, four restaurants (including French and Italian fare), an alfresco terrace bar, a private stretch of lake beach, a marina, three pools, a gym and a spa. All of the bedrooms come with balconies and indulgent Molton Brown toiletries.
This member of Design Hotels takes on the appearance of an exclusive Italian villa. A huge koi filled pond joins the main buildings with a bridge and dining terrace running over it. Guests can wander the perfectly manicured Tuscan style grounds, with bubbling fountains, immaculate topiaries and semi-tropical flora and fauna. Giardino Ascona’s interiors take on a modern, feminine feel and both the service and ambience throughout, endorses its five-star rating. There are two restaurants, Hide & Seek and Ecco Ascona, the former explores Ayurvedic influences, while the latter holds two Michelin stars. Giardino also caters well for kids — there’s a playground and the spa even has a children’s menu for those aged six to 12.
Castello del Sole Beach Resort & SPA
This low-rise 16th-century hotel is akin to a luxury manor home, with 78 accommodations. Guests can explore courtyards filled with roses, a bird sanctuary, vineyard and its exclusive stretch of beach, as well as playing tennis and swimming — all within the hotel’s perimeter. Castello del Sole is a Relais and Chateaux property, specialising in warm, personalised service and cuisine par excellence (which can be taken by candlelight on the terrace). Don’t miss the theatrical opera-themed bar and the Castello Spa, which incorporates ingredients grown on-site into the pampering treatments. Kids are very well catered for during the summer break, with a range of activities.