20121 Travel Guide
Eight years ago, Mandarin Oriental announced they would open a hotel in the heart of Milan. A long silence followed, during which the planned 2013 opening came and went. Then, just over a year ago, we saw the four 19th century buildings that will make up the hotel with our own eyes when we walked down Via Monte di Pietà, preparing ourselves for more waiting until 2015.
Shockingly, our calendar tells us that it is now officially 2015, and like magic, we found an actual dedicated website for Mandarin Oriental Milan, with more details and most of all, renderings. Let’s dig in. Above the entrance, which will be a block behind Monte di Pietà on narrow Via Andegari; a quick look at Google Street View shows an imposing gate and rectangular courtyard, where we assume this is a close up of the right-hand corner. Read on for a look at rooms and the spa.
Welcome to Funky Friday, a new segment we’re trying out which features one photo that we think singularly expresses a hotel’s inner psyche. We look for, and often find, a lot of wacky, wild and wondrous designs that seem to have one thing in common: a Type A personality. So why not have a bit of fun as we all wrap up our week by taking a quick look at some hotels that quite frankly, want our attention.
The subject of chocolate has many times filled our stories, as hotel pastry chefs from around the world show off their talents and compete for our hard earned calories. The Four Seasons Hotel Milan, not to our surprise, goes the extra mile (or pound) in its very own creation of an entire room devoted to and made of chocolate. This is a feature of the hotel’s Il Brunch del Teatro and being so totally unique and off the chocolate charts, is this week’s Funky Friday.
The chocolate room has been a popular display since 2008, each year presenting a different theme. This season, Pastry Chef Johannes Walk created The Chicolate Room, celebrating fashion and glamour. It is gorgeous and a perfect fit, so to speak, for Italy’s capital of all things design.
Having scoped out where both W Hotels and Mandarin Oriental will be landing in Milan, we turned down the city’s Via Montenapoleone to make our way to the Four Seasons, and check in on some of the work that has been going on to keep the hotel fresh and ready for whatever competition will show up in the next few years.
For the 15th-century former convent that houses the hotel, that means renovation of its 68 guestrooms has started, and the addition of a brand new spa. Resident Four Seasons designer Pierre-Yves Rochon has put his name on the new look of the rooms, and Patricia Urquiola is responsible for the spa. No matter what happens within the hotel's walls, one of its loveliest features is actually outside: its pretty courtyard, a space so quiet in the middle of Milan that you can reportedly sleep with the windows open, something we can easily believe based on the silence we experienced here.
So we were all sorts of excited when W Hotels announced it would be opening its first Italian hotel in Milano, but had not even a hint of an image to go with it. Now we do, if only of the exterior of the five-story structure on Via Brera, in the middle of the city’s artsy and nightlife quarter.
To get the worst news out of the way: that 2013 opening that floated around at the time did not quite work out – obviously – and if you’re eager to check in, pace yourself. It’ll be another two and a half years until April 1, 2016 (no April Fool’s joke, we hope) before that will be possible.
“Imposing” is the word we probably would have used. Or “magisterial”, maybe. But definitely not “like a psychiatric hospital”, which is how Roberto Cavalli just described the Armani Hotel Milan.
“Between Armani and me there is an abyss. Have you seen that new hotel? It looks like a psychiatric hospital” were the exact words he used when talking to La Repubblica newspaper.
The most embarrassing thing for Armani in the whole affair is that you know what? Now that he’s said that, we look at pictures and go “You know what, it kinda does.” But then again, it’s hardly out of place in Milan, a city whose buildings are way more severe than the flouncy terracotta stuff you expect in the Italy of your textbooks.
Everyone knows that the first stop for fashionistas on a jaunt through Italy is Milan. It's got designers. It's got Fashion Week. And it's got the man himself, Giorgio Armani.
A man, who, as much as he's making a name for himself now in the hospitality biz, first got introduced to the world as a fashion person. Clothes, retail, couture: those are his roots, not necessarily beautiful hotels. But the new Milan property, with all its 95 textured monochrome guest rooms and eighth floor "hat" lobby, actually manages to contain both those worlds under the same roof—the hotel is built right on top of an Armani store. How convenient!
Hotel Design / Design Thursdays / Armani Hotels / Milan Hotels / Hotel Lobbies / Fashion Hotels / → All Tags
Though we took a quick look last month at what Tripadvisor reviewers were saying, we still feel a little out of the loop about the new Armani Hotel Milan, which has been open for almost two months now.
What kind of fancy Armani unforms do the staff wear? Are the rooms really that big? How do the hotel's Lifestyle Managers fit in, exactly?
Sadly, the hotel provided little in the way of a response—choosing only to reiterate Giorgio's vision of creating a "precisely defined ambiance of total comfort." But we have managed to scrap together at least a fragmentary sense of the interiors. For starters: similar to the property in Dubai, the Armani Milan's rooms are homogenized in soft beiges, tans, and dark browns. Emphasis here is more on texture—with limestone bathrooms, backlit shingled headboards, and cabinets that vanish into walls. All of which, hopefully, don't get in the way of comfort.
We can hardly believe it ourselves, but the Armani Milan is over the one month mark, as it finally made its debut back on November 10. It may still be piping hot and fresh out of the hotel-baking oven, but it's time to start reading what people are saying about it.
One thing is important to remember, however, and that's that Italy doesn't have it all together on the social media/online sharing front. Case in point: the place has been booked up, but both Hotels.com, Expedia, Venere, etc have not a single review of it (barring this nice photo gallery).
Thus, for now we turn to Tripadvisor:
In just over two weeks, the world will have a second Armani Hotel to drool over. At least, that's the hope. After delaying and missing the hubbub of Milan Fashion Week earlier this season, the Armani Hotel Milan has posted an official opening date to their website: November 10.
Okay, so actually we've known this for a little bit, but the magic of it is that the hotel seems to be sticking to the day. When we snooped around the property earlier this year, we noted that the place looked very much finished from the outside, but that filling out the 96 roomsboasting the largest hotel room sizes in the whole cityis likely the cause of the autumn date.
Despite the fact that it's totally crunch time at the Armani Milan, they are not yet taking reservations. That, however, doesn't mean you can't add it to your holiday wish list.
Hotel Construction / Armani Hotels / Fashion Hotels / Milan Hotels / Italy Hotels / Hotel Hype / Photo Gallery / → All Tags
Well, we're more than halfway through 2011 already, the year that Armani Hotel Milan swore it'd be finished and ready, and yet we've got no set opening date yet. Regardless, we swung by the construction ourselves while last in Italy, and it's really coming along.
The Armani Hotel Milan will not be like the original Armani Hotel, in the Burj Dubai building in the United Arab Emirates. It's to be more of an elite boutique hotel, built atop the Armani flagship on Via Manzoni. Sleep in one of the 96 rooms herewhich they boast as having the largest room size in Milanand only a few floors down, you'll be able to shop the Armani/Dolci, Armani/Fiori and Armani/Casa shops (sweets, flowers and home, respectively), in addition to the clothing. Plus, round the corner there's the Armani/Nobu restaurant for fully blowing out your expense account.
Milan Fashion Week has only just drawn to a close (for now), and the well-heeled flock are up to Paris for another round of runway shows, leaving the halls of the Bulgari Hotel Milan a bit quieter and the room rates a big less expensive, even if they do average $750 per night. When we stopped by recently, it was our final evening in Milan as well, and although we weren't into the idea of paying more than airfare for a single night here, we did grab a light dinner and drinks.
The Bulgari has a reputation. It's snobby, conservative, and mostly perfect for those on generous expense accounts. This is all true, but it also makes a pretty great 15 Euro bowl of spaghetti.
Milan Fashion Week ended late last night with the big presentation of Giorgio Armani's Spring/Summer 2011 fashions, and the sentiments from editors all around were positive on the Italian collections. Milan was a winner! And the hotel that shined brightest amidst all the optimism was the Bulgari Hotel, not the Principe di Savoia or Maison Moschino as we would have expected.
No, the Bulgari stood out at first for a livelier cocktails scene, serving as unofficial headquarters for the buyers from Net-A-Porter and the top editors from publications like InStyle and French Vogue. Secondly, and most importantly, the Bulgari emerged as one of the hottest party spots during Milan Fashion Week, when British designer Matthew Williamson took over the hotel's garden to launch his capsule collection of bags for the Bulgari luxury brand. The Bulgaris themselves stopped by, as did Rachel Bilson and Rita Wilson plus a slew of the usual fashion folk.
Now that Milan is over for the fashion season, the room rates have dropped to more manageable levels. So, if you weren't on the guest list for the big party, you can still experience the garden. Room rates for the Bulgari Milan begin at $450 per night.
[Photo: Bulgari Hotel/Facebook]