Excelsior Gallia Milan: Amazing high design luxury hotel with service issues

100   Recommended

Atelier Suite
October 15, 2016 by EXPERT
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Atelier Suite

Liked:
Location
Service
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Atelier Suite

I just returned from 3 nights at the Excelsior Hotel Gallia in Milan, after having spent 4 nights at the amazing Gritti Palace in Venice. I was meeting my mother and 2 friends in Milan, and we chose the Excelsior Gallia partly because I could use SPG points and partly because it's slightly less central location allowed our friends to stay at a less expensive Hotel Bernina nearby. 

The hotel is spectacularly gorgeous...with Art Deco high design done VERY well throughout. It is a very impressive hotel, from the lobby to the restaurant to the bar to the rooms. Everything looks luxurious and very modern and sopshisticated.

Service was the hotel's biggest letdown. There were many service lapses and let-downs, so much so that I finally had to get the GM involved. Despite those, the GM and several managers really did try very hard to please us and placate us when errors were made...but the overall impact was that the service team needs significant improvement to truly be considered a luxury hotel.

That being said, the staff did really try to make it up to me...in as many ways as other staff screwed the pooch. So I would be inclined to stay again should the location again suit me. The proximity to the Centrale station really made transit in/out of town very easy, both for me arriving by train from Venice and for my friends and mother arriving/departing by train from/for the MXP airport. 

In the end, the hotel really is amazingly beautiful.

Check In

Our 2 rooms were both booked using SPG points (20K per night). My SPG Ambassador had already confirmed my upgrade to an Atelier Suite a month before arrival, along with my mother's courtesy room upgrade to an Excelsior Room (a double upgrade). Because I got upgraded SO early, my 3 SNAs for my room were refunded back to my account--even though I did get a double suite upgrade. Very impressive.

Check in was smooth, but did take a little longer than expected--maybe 10 min. Still, everyone was friendly and welcoming and my SPG Plat status was recognized. The VIP attention I got--name recognition, etc--suggested that everyone knew I was an Ambassador Plat. 

The lobby entrance:

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Concierge desk:

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Hallway to breakfast restaurant/lounge:

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Room

The Atelier Suite was beautiful.

The living room:

 

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Bedroom:

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The bed was extremely soft and comfortable. Loved it.

 

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There was tremendous room for storage and for putting away all my clothing (which wasn't much as I only had a carry on!). Anyone would have been pleased with the closet space, neatly and smartly hidden behind the smart design cabinetry.

The view out onto the Centrale train station was lovely:

 

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The bath was also spacious and beautiful:

 

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The air conditioning worked MIRACLES--was one of the best I've ever had anywhere. I like it COLD:

 

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Service

Service was the hotel's biggest letdown. 

First, I had trouble with the phone by my bedside; it didn't seem to work at all. I had to call down to the front desk to have them fix it while I went out for a late lunch. I returned and it still didn't work. I asked the front desk manager to have an engineer replace it or fix it while I was away at dinner. I returned after dinner and it still didn't work. It wasn't until the last day that I finally learned, with the GM In my room supervising 2 engineers, that the programming was wrong and that I had to dial 9 (no one ever told me) to get the front desk--but nothing else worked. I was pretty furious about all of the episodes where I couldn't use the phone.

Second, on our first visit to the top floor bar terrace, the heat lamps were way too hot (and were either all on or all off). I complained...and the server comp'd all of our drinks. Nice touch...but it seems ridiculous that they can't make the heat lamps one on, one off. That seems to be the necessary fix.

Third, on our second visit to the top floor bar terrace (our 2nd night), there was a function...and we were treated VERY poorly. The receptionist seemed flustered in what to do with us, and finally allowed us to sit in a private space inside--since there wasn't much space otherwise available. Then no one would servve us. After 15 minutes of people walking by and no one heeding my calls, we left. I was pretty pissed...and complained. On our 3rd night, the GM picked up our drinks again. But it shouldn't have happened in the first place. This disaster felt like this was the W Hollywood where we weren't important enough--something I rarely feel and that I had never experienced at this property. BAD.

Finally, I had made arrangements in advance through the concierge for a private Milan tour for my group. That morning, we arrived downstairs and no one seemed to have a clue. Then we were advised their private car would take us and drop us at the Duomo...but that we'd have to walk to the Castelo to meet our guide. First I'd heard of it...and I insisted we be dropped off where our guide would meet us! We got dropped at the Park Hyatt...and our guide met us there about 15 minutes later. The tour started about 30 minutes late for a scheduled tour. I was pretty pissed about it...but the guide was lovely. No discount was ever offered for this mishap. The concierge apologized sort of the next day...but this was as bad an error as a concierge team can make IMO.

Together, my impression of service here was NOT positive. The GM went above and beyond to try and repair the damage. But the fact remains that the hotel has a poor service experience when there should no excuse for any of them...not to mention the recurring issues with the phone for which there is no excuse. The GM did give me a lovely gift of a Panerai passport holder, and my mother a lovely gift of spa products. He definitely tried. Others tried, too. But the service needs work, to be sure.

Dining

We dined here only for breakfast...and what a spread they offer. They DID offer me room service gratis as part of my Platinum benefit--which is very generous and not an entitlement. I didn't partake of that until my day of departure--and had great room service.

Our other 2 mornings, I had breakfast with my mother in the restaurant. It's spectacularly beautiful.

 

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Service was a little slow but otherwise friendly and nice. The selection was tremendous as you can see from the photos above.

Concierge

I mentioedn in service that we had issues with meeting up with our guide for the start of our private Milan tour. Otherwise, however, the concierge team was quite helpful. They booked all of the Michelin restaurants we wanted, and they also made great recommendations for lunch in town. The team was quite responsive with me even before our arrival. 

Bar terrace

The bar area on the top floor...and in particular, its outdoor terrace, are spectacular. We really enjoyed meeting every night for cocktails...and they provided amazing appetizers gratis to accompany those as a matter of course. It really was quite well done.

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Location

The hotel is literally across the street from the Centrale train station. It was VERY convenient for us, as it allowed me to arrive by train with ease from Venice, and allowed my mother and friends to arrive and depart by express train from/to the MXP airport with ease. It was a 45 min train ride to/from the MXP airport. It was a 20-30 min drive to the LIN airport from which I flew out to London on my check out day.

It was a 20 min drive to the central area where we did our private tour, starting at the Park Hyatt Milan hotel. While it might be more convenient for a tourist or shopper to be at the Park Hyatt or Four Seasons, both of which we saw and toured, we found the Excelsior to be far more striking in design and more convenient for arrival/departure. That being said, I usually had no trouble finding Uber (black) even though it's apparently illegal, and there is NO trouble finding cabs in the city otherwise (which we did a few times when we couldn't get Uber). 

 

Overall

Overall, I confess that I still loved the Excelsior Gallia Milan--even with its service shortcomings. The effort the GM and a few of the managers made in trying to rectify the mistakes that were made did leave me with a more positive feeling, and the fact that it was free on points probably helped a bit, too. The absolutely striking architecture and interior design of the Gallia is what I most remember, however. 

Also helping was the fact that we toured both the Park Hyatt and Four Seasons, both of which seemed to have a higher service standard but which didn't impress me as being nearly as striking or beautiful in design or layout. The FS courtyard is lovely, but I didn't love the rooms. The Park Hyatt lobby I hated, and the decor in rooms and suites seemed surprisingly dated. We had lunch at the FS, and it was delicious (and pricey!). If I had to choose between those, I would prefer the FS overall...but still would consider the Gallia. 

I would consider the Gallia again if ever I return to Milan. It was so beautiful that I cannot ignore it.

I also must confess that I loved Milan far more than I expected--considering how few people talk about it as a tourist mecca or major destination in Italy. Obviously, there is tough competition in Italy, but I really liked Milan. It has its own charm...and amazing shopping...and some surprisingly impressive sights (e.g. the Duomo, the Last Supper, and several surprising churches and even La Scala). 

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