Slightly out of the way, across the road from the north side of the Public Gardens, the hotel is largely surrounded by office blocks. However it is close both to the Central Station and the Quadrilatero d’Oro; there are metro and tram stops nearby and the hotel runs a regular free shuttle to the centre.
This is a big hotel, with 401 rooms and suites in two buildings: the main hotel and the more modern, interconnected Tower Suites. The inspiration for the classic rooms is taken from 19th century Lombard style with panelled walls inlaid with damask and silks. The deluxe premium rooms have been given a more modern styling, while still using the same fabulous materials. Undoubtedly the stars are the stunning deluxe mosaic suites, with their handpainted frescoes, marble baths and glass mosaic shower stalls. Everyone gets yummy Aqua di Parma smellies.
There’s a rolling programme of renovations going on and while most of the work is complete, there are still some rooms that haven’t yet had their makeover and look a little faded around the edges. The live music in the bar leaks upstairs into a few rooms directly above, so avoid those if it disturbs you. You may also want to ask for a room away from the road at the front of the hotel.
Designer Thierry Despont recently refurbished all the public areas of the hotel. Il Salotto, the main lounge, is a symphony in gold, with Murano glass, classic paintings and a feast of lush fabrics. The Principe Bar is Bedouin tent meets London club, with lots of wood panelling and a draped ceiling, culminating in a magnificent chandelier. The restaurant has a lighter touch and opens onto a broad verandah overlooking the garden.
Eating and drinking
The food here is wonderful, but be prepared to dip deep into your pocket to indulge. The inclusive breakfast is a simple coffee and croissant – if you head for the buffet, it will cost extra. There’s a spectacular Sunday buffet/brunch, so if you are going to splurge, save for that. Afternoon Tea (with cakes and sandwiches) is served in Il Salotto and there’s an aperitivo in the Principe bar. Head chef Fabrizio Cadel reigns over the kitchens creating not only the breakfasts, lunches, teas and snacks but turning out impeccable modern Italian cuisine for the main restaurant, Acanto.
The Club 10 spa is one of the most sumptuous in town, complete with pool and fitness centre. It’s on the 10th floor of the hotel with rooftop views across the city to keep you entertained. Down at ground level, the restaurant verandah is almost impossibly romantic, looking out onto an enchanting town garden with an 18th century fountain. The Principe bar is always bustling, as the Milanese crowds gather for cocktails around the piano or with the DJ. There is live entertainment most evenings and it’s so popular that you might need to book ahead.
The service is regal. Nothing is too much trouble. There is even a special housekeeping service for pampered pooches.
Who stays there
Heads of states, A-listers, fashionistas, the great, the rich, and those of us who want a little taste of the lifestyle of the rich and famous. On the whole, those staying are slightly more mature, but the young arrive for the aperitivo and families are actively welcomed for Sunday brunch.
The room prices are reasonable in comparison to some of their direct competitors, but they do tend to pile on the extras afterwards. Very little is thrown in, with parking, internet and even water in the rooms costing hefty additional amounts. Personally, I find that seriously annoying. I’d prefer to pay a wee bit more, be able to have breakfast, get online, watch TV and have a drink of water without the till rattling.
- Business travellers
- Culture vultures
- Mature travellers
- Celebrity spotting
- People watching
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Free limo service to centre
- The garden, spa and pool
- Real feeling of luxury
- Some rooms noisy
- Too many expensive extras