With only two suites, the romantic new Il Delfino, on the magical island of Isola Bella on Lake Maggiore, finally gives Lake Como a run for her money.

Once upon a time, in the middle of a fairy-tale lake, was a fairy-tale island, complete with unicorns and a principessa. And on this island was a little village. Until recent times, it was inhabited by the servants, fishermen, and gardeners who looked after the noble family who lived in the palazzo next door.

But when the current prince married his principessa, who also happened to study political science, the need for an army of servants dwindled, and their homes were left abandoned and began to crumble.

One of these buildings was the Albergo Delfino. The onetime guesthouse had been empty and unloved for the previous decade until Marina Borromeo (the aforementioned student and principessa) decided something must be done and set about restoring it. The structure was remade, officially, as a restaurant with rooms, and the entire second floor has been split into two generous suites. One of which, Ortensia, overlooks the lake with four flower-filled balconies, ideal for reading, drawing, or simply stopping by for a moment.

Top, the sort of views that only an island can provide; above, architectural details to savor.

Come here with someone you love very deeply—or fancy the pants off of—because, during the day, the island is overrun with visitors, and you must remain in your bedroom.

You certainly won’t be the first lovers to visit these fabled shores; the Borromean Islands were the setting for one of the most intense and romantic love affairs of the 20th century when the revolutionary Futurist painter Umberto Boccioni met Princess Vittoria Colonna on the neighboring island of Isolino, which is still the summer residence of the Borromeo family. They conducted a short but passionate affair, famously recorded in a series of sensuous letters that have since been turned into a book, The Light in Between, by Marella Caracciolo Chia.

It is only as dusk falls that Isola Bella comes into her own, when the last ferry leaves the island, along with the final Birkenstocks-with-socks-wearing visitors. (Lest we forget, the northern part of the lake is in Switzerland.) The tourist souvenir stands selling hot dogs and synthetic lavender bags rattle down their shutters for the night.

The newly renovated interiors are spacious, airy, and comfortable.

At last, the island is yours. Until dawn breaks, your only companions are the musters of albino peacocks, who rule the roost in the gardens of Isola Bella and would give Liberace a run for his money. The swallows and swifts that nest in the eaves of Il Delfino largely keep to themselves.

If you smile sweetly to the staff of Il Delfino, they might even bring you through the labyrinth of cobbled alleyways up stone steps to the unassuming exit gate of the formal gardens. A rusty key will appear out of a pocket, and “Eccola”—you are invited to fare la passeggiata through the most majestic gardens in Europe.

Princess Marina aims to slowly restore all the abandoned cottages and breathe life back into the little island. As I talk to her on the phone, I imagine her lying resplendent on a chaise longue while popping violet creams into her mouth. But she is in fact hard at work on the other projects she oversees for the family, including an upcoming archaeological museum on a neighboring island. (They own a few.)

Top, the Palazzo Borromeo, as seen at sunrise; above, a ristorante with a view.

The restoration of Il Delfino involved bidding for plates on eBay, scouring flea markets (I told you she was cool), and sourcing a factory that could replicate the original 1930s tiles and painstakingly repair the chandeliers and wooden beams that had sat gathering dust behind closed shutters for the last decade. “Everything I did was to make it cozy—somewhere you’d want to spend time,” she says.

Lago Maggiore is for those in the know, a world away from the polished glitz of next-door Lake Como, yet just over an hour by fast train from Milano Centrale, and less than an hour from Malpensa Airport. An oasis of peace and quiet away from the madness of the Salone del Mobile and Fashion Week. But you need to be quick, as those two very special bedrooms won’t remain empty for long.

Emily FitzRoy is a London-based writer. She is also the founder of Bellini Travel, an advisory service that focuses exclusively on Italy

Rates for the suites at Il Delfino begin at $450 per night; more information can be found at isoleborromee.it