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Old Nov 1, 12, 11:22 am
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DavidO
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Location: Berkeley, CA
Programs: Virtuoso, FSPP, STARS, MO FAN Club, PEN Club, Bellini Club, Dorchester Diamond Club, Travel Leaders
Posts: 1,643
the luxury hotels of Milan

Milan is the largest city in Italy and the center of its fashion industry. Though Milan does not have a reputation as a tourist destination, it does have a lot to offer the leisure traveler. Most outstanding is Leonardo's classic Renaissance fresco, The Last Supper, but also of interest is Milan's Duomo, the Galleria, and La Scala opera house ... not to mention great shopping opportunities.

I made site inspections of five hotels in Milan. All are attractive hotels, but each is quite distinct. Your choice will depend in part upon the purpose of your visit and the location that works best for you. As always, these are my own very subjective opinions; others can and should disagree!


Park Hyatt Milan

This is the hotel most often chosen by my clients. Located by one of the entrances to the Galleria, and just off the Piazza Duomo, Park Hyatt Milan is convenient to the top tourist attractions of the city. It was formerly a neoclassical bank building that has been converted to a new use as a contemporary hotel.

I was struck by the central atrium just off the lobby, the Cupola, which also serves as the hotel’s breakfast restaurant. In a clear architectural allusion to the adjacent Galleria, this sixteen-sided room with glass dome expresses the essence of the hotel, the classical juxtaposed with the contemporary.

A boutique hotel with 106 rooms on six floors, I recommend requesting a room on the highest floor possible in order to have a room that maximizes natural light; there is no open space around the hotel, and rooms on lower floors can be dark. I was able to see a Park Deluxe room; Park Hyatt does prioritize upgrading Virtuoso guests from a Park to a Park Deluxe. Comfortably sized at 42 square meters, the room had Venetian stucco walls, travertine marble accents, and Morano glass fixtures. Typical of Park Hyatt properties, its bathroom was quite large with dual travertine marble vanities, a black marble soaking tub, large step-in rain shower, and a separate WC.


The next two hotels are both “designer” properties in the shopping district. Here is the basic distinction: the Armani is cool contemporary while the Bulgari is warm contemporary. Your choice will depend upon your own aesthetic preferences.


Armani Hotel Milano

If you’re in Milan for fashion shopping and are a fan of Giorgio Armani’s style, this hotel is a great possibility. Mr. Armani had a direct hand in virtually all of the design choices of the hotel, and it is a stunning contemporary creation — cool, sleek, and sophisticated with a metallic color scheme. Rooms are decorated in neutral shades of gold, silver, grey, black, and dark brown.

The seventh floor lobby of the hotel has a commanding, panoramic view of city city; while eating dinner in the Armani Restaurant, my seat had a direct view of the Duomo lit up at night. The hotel has the largest rooms in Milan — and a pillow menu that provided the softest pillows I’ve ever experienced! The bathrooms are likewise spacious with dual vanities, large soaking tub, step-in rain shower, and a separate WC.


Bulgari Milan

The Bulgari Milan is the other designer property in Milan. A boutique property with just 45 guest rooms and 13 suites, it is located midway between Milan's high end shopping district and the historic Brera district that features small shops and galleries. A distinctive feature of the Bulgari is its large garden. Most guest rooms have tall windows that look out over the garden and admit its greenery and natural light into the your accommodation.

If the Armani is cool and sleek, the Bulgari is warm and organic with a more residential feel. Because of high occupancy, I was able to see just a Deluxe guestroom and a specialty suite. The Deluxe room had blond hardwood floors, even lighter wood paneling, and white walls with accents of tan and bronze. Bathrooms use light travertine marble vanities and walls, with floors and soaking tubs of black marble. All bathrooms provide separate step-in showers and a WC.


Four Seasons Milan

The Four Seasons is located a short walk from the Armani on a quiet, mostly pedestrian shopping street. Its development began in 1987 with the intention to convert an 18th century neoclassical building into a hotel. In the course of construction, everyone was surprised when a concealed column was uncovered. In the course of further exploration, a 15th century Renaissance convent was discovered, hidden within the brickwork of the building. The pre-existing convent was preserved and incorporated into the hotel.

The lobby occupies the convent’s former sanctuary, and hotel's central garden and courtyard is the former convent’s cloister. The greenery of the cloister garden brings nature and light into those guestrooms facing the courtyard. Also preserved are some vaulted ceilings as well as some restored frescoes on walls and ceilings (though not as elaborate as at FS Florence).

The Four Seasons is a boutique hotel with 67 guest rooms and 51 suites. While Superior and Deluxe Rooms are roomy and comfortable, their long and somewhat narrow configuration in the category permit only Queen beds. These rooms mostly face the street or the smaller garden behind the private residence of the hotel's residential neighbor and can be dark. Premier Rooms are the room category of choice here. They are larger, with a choice of King or Twin-Twin beds, and they have more natural light as they look out onto the courtyard garden. Bathrooms have step-in showers, separate soaking tub, heated marble floors, but only a single vanity. Most rooms lack a separate WC.

The style is typical of Four Seasons — clean, classic, and informal with a sense of location. Rooms have hardwood floors and tan rugs. The rooms are decorated in one of three different color schemes — yellow, light green, and terra cotta, and there is a simple wallpaper frieze around the top of the walls that hints at the Renaissance heritage of the building.


Principe di Savoia

Principe di Savoia, part of the Dorchester Collection, is a larger hotel than the other four hotels and not as conveniently located (although the hotel does offer a complimentary shuttle service to the shopping areas of Milan). This hotel often has the best pricing of the Virtuoso hotels in Milan.

A major change in the hotel takes place today, November 1, 2012: the hotel will no longer sell rooms in the “Tower Wing,” a separate building connected to the main hotel building by a third floor bridge. The Tower Wing is not owned by the hotel, and Principe di Savioa is terminating its lease on this wing as of January 1, 2013. One consequence is that a 400 room hotel has now become a 300 room hotel. The other consequence is that the very affordable Classic rooms (which had been in the Tower Wing) are no longer available.

All 300 guestrooms were renovated over the course of 2010 - 2012 in a 60 million euro renovation. The renovation also created a lobby lounge, reminiscent of the Promenade at the Dorchester in London.

The Virtuoso contract begins with Deluxe rooms, large, attractive accommodations decorated in an updated classical style, with sumptuous Italian fabric window treatments, silk wall coverings, marble trim, intricate inlaid wooden doors. The original antique furnishings are still being used. Bathrooms are marble, and most (but not all) have dual vanities, separate step-in showers, and separate WC's.

The next room category are the Mosiac Rooms, decorated in shades of reds, yellows, or blues. These rooms had mosaics created over the soaking tubs in course of the renovation and are in the front of the hotel, facing the plaza. There is no particular reason to book a Mosaic room as I found the Deluxe rooms extremely attractive.

The top floor of the hotel offers a spa, indoor pool, and a gym with a view of the city, and among the hotel's services is a complimentary shuttle service to take guests to the shopping areas of Milan.
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