Alzaia Naviglio Grande, 8, Navigli
It’s rare to find a waterside hotel in Milan, which is what makes Maison Borella so special. The hotel is located directly along the canals of the Navigli in a gorgeously renovated eighteenth-century building. Unlike in many of the city’s grand dames, the rooms are cozier and feel almost like apartments rather than hotel quarters, thanks to wood-beamed ceilings, wood double doors, and little balconies with pots of flowers (many of which overlook the canal). And each one is decorated differently, so even after multiple stays, it’s always a pleasant surprise to see what we get.
Grand Hotel et de Milan
Via Manzoni 29, Quadrilatero della moda
The neo-Gothic Grand Hotel et de Milan has been open since 1863–and run by three generations of the same family. Local design firm Dimore Studio recently renovated the interiors, which marry classic elements (parquet wood floors, Oriental rugs) with modern touches like custom made seating and sleek, sculptural lighting. Given its history, it’s a cultural experience on its own, and it’s within walking distance of some of the city’s best—including La Scala and the fashion district on Via Montenapoleone.
Park Hyatt Milan
Via Tommaso Grossi 1, Centro Storico
For people who want to be in the center of everything, it’s hard to beat the Park Hyatt, which faces Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II in a former bank building from 1870. Aside from the location, the hotel scores big with minimalist rooms done in soothing shades of cream, grey, and ochre. The hotel’s primary restaurant, VUN, was awarded two Michelin stars for chef Andrea Aprea’s take on classic Italian pasta and seafood dishes (the salt cod and black gnocchi draw rave reviews).
Principe di Savoia
Piazza della Republica 17, Porta Nuova
When you think of a luxurious old-world European hotel, chances are good the image you have in your head looks a lot like the Principe di Savoia. The hotel opened in the 1920s and still conveys an Art Deco feeling. The sumptuous interiors make generous use of marble, polished wood, silk, and gold, and it’s not unusual to find a hand-painted fresco in your room. The place is truly old-school, down to the mature waitstaff and ornate flatware. The best part may be the swimming pool, which almost looks like an ancient Roman bath and has made appearances in films like Sofia Coppola’s Somewhere.
Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7b, Brera
Even in the middle of the city, the Bulgari maintains a sense of peace and quiet, thanks to its location on a leafy, private street in the Brera District. The hotel is predictably slick (black marble and granite, floor-to-ceiling windows, and Italian furniture), and it’s a consistent favorite for people in town for Milan fashion week or the furniture fair Salone del Mobile. The building itself is a renovated eighteenth-century palazzo that gives a sense of history to counterbalance all the glossy modernity. And there are little nooks (in the garden, at the bar, in the library) that are cozy but appropriate for meetings or just getting some work done.
Four Seasons Milan
Via Gesù 6/8, Quadrilatero della moda
A breakfast of green juice and poached eggs in the wooded courtyard of a converted fifteenth-century convent might not be what you’d expect from a hotel in the center of Milan, but that’s what you get—and it’s as delightful as it sounds. The rooms are large and light-filled; here and there, frescos and architectural details from the original convent reveal themselves. And the bathrooms are enormous, with toiletries from Acqua di Parma. The hotel is within easy walking distance of the Duomo and a number of parks, museums, restaurants, and any luxury store you can think of. If it rains—or even if it doesn’t—decamp downstairs to the Patricia Urquiola–designed spa for a few hours. The pool marries history (ancient vaulted ceilings, in this case) with minimalist chic.
Via Andegari 9, Brera
Even if you aren’t staying at the new(ish) and gorgeous Mandarin Oriental, stop by for an aperitivo. You’ll probably be in the neighborhood at some point, since the hotel is around the corner from La Scala and a short walk from the Duomo. The courtyard setting is glamorous but relaxed, located in the center of a restored 18th-century palazzo. The spa is also worth a look—and a treatment since booking a treatment means access to the indoor swimming pool. Go for the Oriental body scrub, which uses oil infused with essences of tropical Ginger, frankincense, and mandarin.
Via dei Serragli 88, Florence
For an urban hotel, it doesn’t get more intimate that this. Only seven rooms are spread over four floors with a lush, secret garden out back. The overall aesthetic here is botanical. The ornate wallpaper throughout features a medley of flora and fauna, the pictures hanging on the walls detail rare flowers and birds, and the little courtyard teeming with plants is the icing on the cake. Guest rooms are outfitted with old antiques, huge beds, and all the old bones of the building (like the beamed ceiling and wall paneling) have been maintained. Overall, the effect is reminiscent of an old Tuscan farmhouse that’s received a beautiful, subtle face-lift.
St. Regis Florence
Piazza Ognissanti 1, Florence
Occupying a fifteenth-century, Brunelleschi-designed Renaissance palace, the St. Regis is, like the Four Seasons, a sumptuous historical experience. Rooms are worthy of the architecture, with plenty of velvet and silk accents; many have views of the Arno. Take full advantage of the hotel’s knowledgeable concierge and services, which include tours of the city and countryside in the St. Regis Bentley, as well as tours of Florence’s galleries and museums with the hotel’s own in-house curator.
Via Maggio 35, Florence
Oltrarno is the Brooklyn to Florence’s Manhattan—and Soprarno Suites is right at home in this more bohemian part of town.
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