Postcards from Italy

First Friday Favorite: Hotel Cristallo (Cortina d’Ampezzo)

The Hotel Cristallo has been Cortina d’Ampezzo’s premier 5 star since 1901. It is a beautiful fin de siècle resort just outside Cortina’s center, its Art Nouveau architecture framed by the dramatic Tofane mountain peaks, and has been the preferred retreat of the world’s celebrities and royalty for more than a century. Glance through the hotel’s historic registry to see the signatures of famous guests from Leo Tolstoy to Frank Sinatra.


(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)


The Cristallo began as a family hotel and, after a brief run as part of a large hotel group, was purchased by the Gualandi family in 1998 and underwent a dramatic renovation. The elegant original architecture was preserved, but the historic tennis courts (which were used as ice skating rinks in the winter) were replaced by an immense luxury spa, pool, and fitness area.

Cristallo tennis

 (Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Cristallo skating

(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

From its reopening in 2001, the Cristallo has quickly returned to its former glory and prestige, being repeatedly voted as one of Europe and Italy’s best ski resorts.

The hotel is located just outside the city center of Cortina, which is the perfect spot to both enjoy the breathtaking mountain views and walk the easy 5 minutes into town to explore Cortina’s shops and restaurants. There is also an on-call hotel shuttle, which we like to take back after our walk into the center.

The on-site Veranda restaurant is excellent (not always the case in luxury hotels), and the traditional Italian menu is priced by course not by dish. The resort also has The Gazebo, with more modern and inventive cuisine, The Stube, a small space with local dishes, and the Chef’s Private Table in a separate room for small groups. All this means guests can dine in-house more often during their stay with a bit of variety.
The lobby offers complimentary guest amenities such as fresh fruit and a “corner for gluttons”, which is well stocked with favorite candies and sweets.

The hotel has two seasons: in the summer, it’s open from July to the beginning of September, and in the winter from the week before Christmas through the end of March.


(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)


There about 75 rooms, of which 22 are suites, which are spacious and elegantly decorated in an Alpine style with a light touch. The marble bathrooms are lovely, but, Maria Gabriella points out, “could use an update to get rid of the somewhat kludgy jacuzzi that was very much in style years ago.” Also, getting into and out of the high tub requires a bit of care.


 (Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

Why we love it

The main calling card of the hotel is the staff – ever-present and ready to assist with the most basic or complex requests. Perhaps that is why the celebrity clientele, many of whom are younger and might prefer a more contemporary setting, return again and again.

Travel Specialists

Maria Landers

Brian Dore