Milan evokes a strong opinion in those who know it; people either love it or, frankly, they hate it. It's not exactly beautiful when compared to its southern sisters, Florence or Rome, and, on weekends, it empties out like it's the holidays: People head to the mountains in the winter or the seaside in the summer.
It is, however, Italy's style hub and I happen to be quite fond of it. This fashion nucleus has an inherent style doctrine and sensibility that I am drawn to time and time again, and, since launching Dea Rosa, it's been my second home.
I've stayed in nearly every hotel in the city, so when the newly-opened Armani Hotel Milano promised a "home-away-from-home" experience in line with their signature Stay with Armani philosophy, I decided to give it a try for my first night back in the city.
Designed in 1937 by Enrico Griffini, the rationalist style building just steps from the famed Via Monte Napoleone is now the Armani kingdom. An interesting fact I learned over a smooth grappa (the grappa selection is amazing)--pointed out to me by the general manager via Google Maps on his phone--was this hotel, created within Griffini's palazzo, is shaped by the architectural ground plan as an immense "A". This can be seen in the original Griffini drawings, and is something that is only visible from above. Coincidence? I guess it was just meant to be.
After my flight in from Dubai (where Armani launched Armani Hotel Dubai in the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building), the idea of my very own "home-away-from-home" in Milan, and one designed by Mr. Armani to boot, was a very welcome one.
Here the Armani approach goes beyond the obviously amazing visual aesthetics you'd come to expect, offering a new level of service under the care of the lifestyle service department and its Lifestyle Manager concept. Stefano (my LM) emailed me after my reservation was confirmed and asked, "If there was anything I needed in anticipation of my stay."
I didn't need a thing.
Stefano anticipated my arrival and was at the door when my taxi arrived. He whisked me through reception and up to my third floor première room. After a brief introduction to the room, he disappeared through the room's vestibule as quickly as he appeared (more on that below). If you stay, ask for a thorough introduction to the electronics of it, otherwise, you end up calling the maid when you'd rather be lowering your blinds. Or, in my case, having extra Nespresso pods brought up when all I wanted to do was get online.
Located on all floors and up to 55 square meters in size, the première rooms feature the normal bedroom, plus a comfortable living space with a multi-use workstation and private bar, and a marble bathroom. Beds are very comfortable and amenities are well thought-out. However, the technology was a challenge even for me, who juggles plenty of wireless devices on a regular basis.
My favorite part of the room was the entry vestibule, which creates an intervening space before the intimacy of the room is revealed. When your doorbell rings, the remote control in the room actually lets you see who is outside your room on your television. So, you can have your dry cleaning or breakfast delivered without leaving your bed.
All the furnishings in the hotel share the Armani/Casa collection signature design philosophy but have been specifically created in a range of precious finishes to reflect the period mood of the palazzo, from the elegant linear sofas covered in sophisticated fabrics, to the backlit wooden bed heads. The workstations had a faux 'lizard' which I personally loved.
With a few dinner parties on my calendar, I opted to try the restaurant at the hotel since I was only there one night. Met by the largest truffle I've ever encountered (which later shared a plate with homemade pasta prepared by executive chef Gian Domenico Melandri), I discovered that Armani/Ristorante draws on the rich gastronomic traditions of Italy by effortlessly combining classic and authentic dishes. I became obsessed with the gorgeous, white onyx dining room; clean lines permeate like a graph in this room--and nothing is out of place.
What most impressed me overall at the hotel was the extensive use of light. There are windows everywhere, and I loved spending a few hours before and after dinner in the Armani/Bamboo bar, with its double volume ceiling and louvered window wall--it's one of the few spots in Milan that lets the outside in.
I didn't have time for the spa, but I did take a peek at the peaceful, balmy setting overlooking all of Milan from the hotel's top floor. The views are spectacular and I envisioned my next visit including some time in the heated infinity pool overlooking this city I love...