Lounge at Armani Hotel Milano, Milan, Italy

Armani Hotel Milano

If ever there was a hotel that fully embodies the aesthetic of a fashion icon, it would be the Armani Hotel Milano. Situated atop Giorgio Armani’s flagship store, at the entrance of famed shopping street Via Montenapoleone, this hotel made a huge splash when it opened in 2011 and remains one of the most difficult to book during the high season, especially fashion week.

Its vividly personal design philosophy makes absolutely no compromises—from the overall architecture (the footprint of the hotel is in the shape of an “A”) to the smallest details (black shower caps), guests here are unmistakably in the word of Signore Armani. It's Zen, minimalist and undeniably sexy, without a single superfluous flourish or adornment—just like a perfect little black dress.

Instead of checking in on the ground floor, visitors are whisked to the seventh floor where massive window walls clad in solar-paneled blinds showcase expansive views across the rooftops of Milan, all the way towards the Duomo. The ambience is hushed, the lighting dim, and the color palate a muted mix of gold and silver, of black and red onyx. Suffice it to say that you feel like you should dress up for the hotel, and that anything other than heels won't do to catwalk down the polished black floors.

The 95 rooms and suites are located on floors two through six, so guests take an elevator down (reminiscent of hotels in Asia), then make their way through darkened hallways dotted with discreet doorways secured by touch panels. The accommodations start at a sizable 480 square-feet, and while masculine at the core, interiors maintain a sense of warmth, furnished with sensual leather, marble and raw silk dipped in neutral hues of grays, creams and browns. The furniture hails from Armani Casa, of course, and the beds in particular are extremely comfortable. Bathrooms are massive and have an Asian-bathhouse vibe, with smooth stone floors, spacious vanities and a separate bathtub and shower. Several floor-to-ceiling mirrors remind that you're staying in the house of a fashion designer (as does the lack of drawers in the room; apparently, everything in a style-maven's closet should be hung up). Some of the rooms on the sixth-floor come with balconies with vistas of the city, and the duplex Signature Suites offer either a private cinema or an in-room gym.

Public spaces are impressive, in particular the top-floor, 13,000-square-foot Armani Spa. There are six treatment rooms, a glass-enclosed relaxation pool and a state-of-the-art fitness center, but best are the white-leather relaxation loungers set in front of the window walls, surely one of the best vantage point from which to view Milan.

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Lobby at Bulgari Hotel Milan, Milan, Italy

Bulgari Hotel Milano

Tucked away on a quiet residential street off of Via Monte di Pietà, the 58-room Bulgari is a serene retreat located near the best shopping of the Quadrilatero d’Oro and in walking distance to Brera—a design district filled with independent galleries and local cafés. Bulgari's heritage is present throughout the hotel’s public spaces, which feature sketches of vintage jewelry and portraits of the brand’s famous fans like Elizabeth Taylor and Sophia Loren. Adored by the Milanese, the Bulgari has a loyal following of high-profile professionals, celebrities and designers who favor the sleek, stylish design.

Well-known Italian designers Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel, who also decorated the nearby** **Mandarin Oriental Milan, blend Bulgari’s high-end aeshetic with contemporary Italian décor. Dark hallways lead to residential-styled rooms with floor-to-ceiling windows and minimalist furnishings. The color scheme highlights light oak-paneled walls and floors accented with beige, taupe and rich mocha. The bathrooms are simple but grand, and most have deep stone basin tubs that overlook the garden. Amenities include Bulgari bath products, luxurious Italian linens and special touches at turndown including warm herbal tea, chocolates and lit candles.

The buzzing lounge has floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the lively garden.Il Bar attracts a stylish crowd of locals, who mingle over aperitivo at the long onyx marble bar. In the warm weather, patrons can take advantage of the garden or Dom Pérignon Lounge and Raw Bar set in the back of the garden. Il Ristorante specializes in contemporary Italian dishes such as sea bass carpaccio and ossobuco ravioli. Once a month, the Bulgari hosts a special culinary event, Epicurea, during which an international chef collaborates on a curated tasting menu. It’s a fun dining experience that is popular with locals. The additional on-property amenities include a lovely Asian-inspired spa with La Mer products and a small but functional gym.

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a hotel room in glossy art deco style with shiny wooden bed and luxe linens plus large window behind it with view of european city scene

Casa Cipriani Milano

In an historic palazzo across the street from the vast Indro Montanelli Gardens and the natural history museum, Casa Cipriani Milano is one of the city’s most exclusive five-star hotels, with just 15 rooms.

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Living Room at Excelsior Gallia, Milan, Italy

Excelsior Gallia

To call the revamped Excelsior Gallia unapologetically contemporary is an understatement. The 235-room hotel occupies a beautifully restored landmark building from the 1930s but interiors showcase space-age futurism at its finest. The monochromatic symphony of chrome, aluminum, marble, steel and stone was orchestrated across eight floors by Milanese designer Marco Piva, who approached this—his first hotel project—with a somewhat over-the-top, but deeply Italian flair.

Large white columns, black-marble floors and geometric light fixtures greet guests in the lobby. As the piece de résistance, Piva commissioned Murano specialists De Majo with the creation of a stunning, 30-meter chandelier whose 180 light cylinders, hung on long strings, illuminate the eight-story monumental staircase (one of the original details that have been painstakingly restored). De Majo is among a host of Italian brands represented at the Excelsior Gallia, from the Trussardi amenities in the bathrooms to the Masserati that shuttles guests to the historic center (the Excelsior is about a 10-minute drive to La Scala).

On first glance, the massive size of the common spaces, the polished materials and stark design choices can feel a bit impersonal, but the 253 rooms, including 53 suites, are actually some of Milan's most comfortable accommodations. Layouts are spacious with large marble-clad bathrooms, featuring separate bathtubs and steam showers. The color palette mimics the slate greys, blacks and whites of the common spaces, while textured wall coverings and mirrored sliding doors add touches of whimsy. Light is massively important to Piva, as evidenced by the particularly flattering lighting scheme in the bathroom (always appreciated) and the many different lamps and light fixtures throughout the room (Arco floor lamps are a particular favorite). Walls are adorned with architectural renderings, as thought the building and the interiors themselves were the art here. And, as befits an uber-contemporary abode, everything is teched-out: a night-light that illuminates automatically guides the way to the bathroom, and every imaginable plug, including a welcome USB charger, is installed beside the bed. Curtains, light and heating is controlled via an iPad.

A new, glass-clad wing, which was added to the landmark building, holds additional rooms as well as the impressive Shiseido Spa and a large gym area, on the sixth and seventh floors. Shiseido is the only non-Italian partner in the Excelsior, but the Zen ambience and dramatic lighting of the 10,000-square-foot extravaganza fits well within the overall hotel concept (don't miss the beautiful hammam). Top-floor billing was also given to Terrazza Gallia, the fine dining restaurant of the hotel that is overseen by the Cerea brothers, Michelin-award-winning chefs from Bergamo. Come for an apéritif and request to sit on the terrace with spot-on views of Milan's Art Deco train station whose façade is more than 650 feet long.

In fact, the proximity to the station reminds of the Excelsior Gallia's original debut in the 1930s when most travelers arrived at the newly opened stazione, then decamped to the grand hotel across the way. These days, they arrive via car transfer from Malpensa Airport, but the connection to travel and innovation remains. In fact, the lobby sees its fair share of curious passersbys who come to marvel at the Murano chandelier installation, itself a perfect symbol for the blending of traditional handicraft and cutting-edge design at the Excelsior.

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Lounge with patio at Four Seasons Hotel Milano, Milan, Italy

Four Seasons Milan

Currently celebrating its twentieth anniversary as a hotel, the Four Seasons Milan, housed in a former fifteenth-century convent, now boasts sixty-seven guest rooms and fifty-one suites, the notable La Veranda restaurant and, of course, the signature level of service that the Four Seasons brand embodies.

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Interior at Grand Hotel Et De Milan, Milan, Italy - courtesy Gran-Hotel-Et-De-Milan

Grand Hotel Et De Milan

Situated in a building that dates from the late nineteenth century, the traditional Grand Hotel et de Milan has seventy-three rooms and twenty-two suites. The entire environment evokes a period piece; indeed, composer Giuseppe Verdi kept a suite here for twenty years starting in 1872. Not surprisingly, the décor here is old-world: heavy curtains, marble bathrooms and a mix of genuine and reproduction antiques, which are complemented by flat-screen televisions, minibars and twenty-four-hour room service. Two atmospheric bars (Gerry’s and Caruso) and the Don Carlos restaurant comprise the hotel’s gastronomic offerings. And the Grand Hotel is literally at the head of Via Montenapoleone and also within walking distance to the Duomo, La Scala, the fashion and financial districts.

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Imperial suite at Hotel Principe di Savoia, Milan, Italy

Hotel Principe di Savoia

Milan’s most prestigious European-style grand hotel is the Principe di Savoia, on Piazza della Repubblica. It’s the anti-Bulgari for those who prefer their hotels with a sense of place. Even the notoriously design savvy, such as magazine editor (and Kate Moss ex) Jefferson Hack and the Dutch design duo Studio Job book rooms here when they’re in town. Nowhere else in the city will you find such a time capsule of a bar/lounge–dripping in Baroque details and topped with an original Tiffany-glass domed ceiling. The deluxe rooms with silk textiles and ornate wood paneling are especially sumptuous, and a welcome change from today’s all-white cookie-cutter hotel rooms. The Principe underwent a large-scale renovation in 2009. Renowned New York–based designer Thierry Despont reimagined the historic hotel’s lobby (now featuring a custom-designed Murano glass chandelier by Barovier and Toso); Milan-based design company Celeste dell’Anna focused on updating the Imperial Suite; and London architect Francesca Basu created nine new suites, called the Principe Suites. Despont’s vibrant new version of the Principe Bar balances the classic and the contemporary, and it remains one of the city’s hotspots. The nine new Principe suites are sleek and contemporary, but gorgeous details including large sitting rooms, Murano glass vases, hand-painted frescoes and marble-clad bathrooms with glass mosaic-accented showers keep the sense of place intact. (Technological updates like Wi-Fi and 32” LCD flat-screen televisions don’t, but are welcome conveniences nonetheless.) Do dine at the Principe’s restaurant, Acanto, presided over by talented Executive Chef Fabrizio Cadei (if you fall in love with his dishes, you can sign up for one of his two-hour cooking classes).

And it’s the 5,400-square-foot penthouse presidential suite—with its priceless antiques, dramatic Murano chandeliers, private spa (with swimming pool, sauna and Turkish bath) and wraparound terrace boasting unsurpassed views—that makes this hotel the property of choice for visiting luminaries from Queen Elizabeth to George Clooney.

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Restaurant at Mandarin Oriental Milan, Milan, Italy

Mandarin Oriental Milan

Opened in late 2015, the Mandarin Oriental Milan is the city’s newest five-star hotel. The Italian city has long attracted fashionistas, designers and business travelers, but recently the cosmopolitan city has been experiencing a Renaissance thanks an influx of investments, most notably seen in this grand hotel.

The Mandarin occupies a prime location on the quiet Via Andegari, just off of the bustling Via Alessandro Manzoni. Built in an 18th-century Italian palazzo, the property pays meticulous attention to its historical structure while also infusing an updated urban sensibility. Established Milanese designers Antonio Citterio and Patricia Viel (who also designed the nearby Bulgari) are responsible for the lavish interiors, which mix Italian glamour with Asian simplicity.

The 104-room hotel features dimly-lit hallways that lead to large, natural light–filled guest rooms. The décor is contemporary with Italian oak walls and hard-wood floors. Rooms are decorated in a neutral palate with splashes of lavender and rich taupe, and most boast white marble bathrooms with double vanities and oversized basin tubs. Rooms feature high-tech amenities, including iPod docks and high-speed WiFi, and luxurious comforts like Pañpuri bath products and custom-made Egyptian cotton linens.

The lively Mandarin Bar is a favorite with locals, who enter via a separate entrance to bypass the hotel’s bustling lobby. The attractive crowd mingles at the black onyx marble bar or unwinds on lounge chairs with an aperitivo (don’t miss the signature Negroni del Professore, made with smoked Campari). The décor channels a modern aesthetic with geometric black and white tiling. Seta is the hotel’s fine dining option and serves Italian specialties including truffle risotto and poached sea bass.

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Sitting Room at Nhow, Milan, Italy


The über-cool Nhow (with sister properties in Berlin and Rotterdam), designed by architect Matteo Thun, is a good deal, and a lot of fun (even its website is entertaining). Located in a former factory in the now up-and-coming neighborhood of Tortona, the 246-room property is an avant-garde showcase and exhibition space of graffiti, contemporary artists and furniture designers from, among others, Dilmos, Milan’s top modern-design gallery. Not surprisingly, it has become the hotel of choice for design-savvy travelers in Milan for the International Furniture Fair. Potential guests should know that some room categories have bathtubs that are not separate from the sleeping/living areas.

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Palazzo Parigi

Opened in fall 2013, Milan's Palazzo Parigi hotel was designed by Paris-based Pierre-Yves Rochon, the man behind the Four Seasons George V in Paris, and it is an elegant and opulent home base for in-the-know visitors to Milan. Read Indagare's review.

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Park Terrace Suite at Park Hyatt Milano, Italy

Park Hyatt Milano

Occupying a palazzo that dates from 1875 and is part of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Park Hyatt Milano is a serene, luxury business hotel with a lot of character. The location is fantastic: next to the Piazza del Duomo, La Scala and close to the city’s best boutiques. Its 112 guestrooms and suites convey a chic, contemporary sensibility, with such gorgeous details as travertine with black inlays, carpets by Tai-Ping and fabrics by Jim Thompson. There is lots of marble throughout, with emphasis on the typical Milanese architraves, high ceilings and raw silk. Bathrooms have steam and rain showers with chromotherapy, and the range of bath products, made with musk, vanilla and amber blossom, were designed specifically for the hotel by Italy’s most famous “nose,” Laura Tonatto. Even if you are not staying at the hotel, don’t miss the Michelin-starred Restaurant VUN. Meanwhile, La Cupola, the Park Hyatt’s spectacular lobby lounge, has a soaring twenty-nine-foot glass dome and is a great spot for a light lunch, coffee, aperitivo or post-La Scala bite.**

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a hotel room living area with red accents, sleek white lighting and warm dark wood furnishings as well as well-lit bookcases

Portrait Milano

A 16th century seminary with its own piazza is now one of Milan’s most impressive five-star hotels—thanks to an overhaul from the Ferragamo family.

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Lounge at Town House Seven Stars Galleria, Milan, Italy

Town House Seven Stars Galleria

Located above Prada’s headquarters in the prestigious and landmark Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, the Seven Stars Galleria is giving the nearby ultra-luxurious Park Hyatt a run for its money, literally: the accommodations here start at around $1,300 a night. But with its anything-is-possible service (staff can even arrange VIP access to The Last Supper) and only seven suites, each with a private butler, rare wine in the minibar and welcome caviar, the small hotel has been booked consistently since it opened in 2007. Designer Ettore Mocchetti, who also happens to be editor-in-chief of Italian Architectural Digest, went to great lengths to make each suite extra-special, from the bed linens to positioning of the furniture (an eclectic mix of collectible pieces from a range of centuries) and the lighting perfectly.

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Vico Milano

The sister property to family-owned Castello di Vicarello in Tuscany, this design-forward hotel has just seven rooms.

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