The location is fabulous, right next to the Duomo in the heart of the Quadrilatero d’Oro, within walking distance of the main historic sights, many excellent restaurants and the city’s main fashion and shopping centre. There’s a metro stop just across the piazza if you wish to explore further afield. It really couldn’t be better.
Colour plays a huge role in this hotel with rooms themed in light and dark palettes (when they say dark they really mean it – claustrophics take note – down to black walls and baths). Rough concrete is used next to lush fabrics to provide sensual touch and five suites have added aromatherapy (smell) and chromotherapy panels (light displays that change colour to enhance your mood) for a five senses experience. Seven suites have massaging armchairs; I think you are meant to take it seriously, but seriously, guys, it’s good for a giggle! It helps relieve the dramatic tension. The only downside is that they are so keen on being super-sexy that they sometimes forget about practicalities like having enough hooks and cupboards for clothes.
Little to nothing remains of the building’s 19th century roots. They’ve been lost under a sea of rough concrete, oxidized slate, scratched mirror and burnished brass, deliberately left rough around the edges. Original 1970s furnishings in the bar and sumptuous fabrics round out the design concept of architect/designer Vincenzo de Cotiis. The public areas are not huge, life from 8am to midnight revolves around the Straf Bar, and there is a quiet courtyard reading room with couches in a glassed-in courtyard.
Eating and drinking
Be prepared to go celeb spotting in the Straf Bar. Open from 8am-midnight, this is not only the hub of the hotel but a regular hangout for many Milanese beautiful people. It transforms itself as the day progresses, serving an American breakfast, light lunches and snacks and running a happy hour from 6-9pm. The meals are on the light, health-conscious side – if you want a blow-out Italian feast, this is not the place to come, but the food is delicious. It’s very trendy-fusion, salmon tartare with black rice and cherry tomatoes (even the food is colour-themed). The only minus point, for me, was Haagen-Daz ice-cream. Don’t get me wrong – I’m normally a huge fan – but this is Italy!
The hotel has a small but well-equipped gym and a series of well-being rooms with massage armchairs, aromatherapy and colour therapy for a hi-tech hands-off approach to healthcare. Sit down, strap in and tune out.
They really care about service here and it transforms what could look like an expensively padded prison into a place of charm.
Who stays there
The young and the beautiful and the people who shoot them (photographically that is). This is a place to be seen, so whip out the lippy and the designer shades, and brush up on Italian Vogue so you know who’s at the next bar stool along.
The hotel offers various packages, from a basic b&b and free WiFi to airport transfers in an Ecochic (environmentally friendly) car, weekend specials, or extras including trips to see Leonardo’s Last Supper, wallowing in a thermal spa or taking a private yoga class.
- Business travellers
- Culture vultures
- Celebrity spotting
- Design and architecture
Pros & Cons
- Buzzy scene in the bar
- Stunning design concept
- Amazing location
- Not designed for relaxing
- No free WiFi in bedrooms
- Design concept not everyone's taste