Casa Maria Luigia
Stradello Bonaghino, 56, Modena
Massimo Bottura’s flagship restaurant Osteria Francescana has three Michelin stars, but Bottura is probably just as well known for saving the Parmigiano Reggiano industry after the catastrophic 2012 earthquake. Now he and his wife, Lara, have extended the Francescana experience into the Emilian countryside. Casa Maria Luigia has just opened and is the Call Me by Your Name dolce far niente escape we spend most of the year fantasizing about. A restored country home with tennis courts, a pool, expansive gardens, and of course—Francescana. Dinner takes place in the carriage house and includes a nine-course tasting menu of all the Osteria’s greatest hits. After this feast to end all feasts, simply cross the courtyard, climb the stairs, and tumble into queen-size bed surrounded by contemporary art from the Botturas’ own collection.
Elizabeth Unique Hotel Rome
Via delle Colonnette, 35, Borghese
The Elizabeth Unique Hotel is one of the few boutique luxury hotels within a stone’s throw of the Spanish Steps—but our room was so beautifully appointed, so luxurious, so artful, there was a moment we considered skipping the 2,000-year-old amphitheater altogether and just hanging out in the room. To be fair, you could stay in the hotel for your whole trip and not be wanting for anything. The rooms and common areas lean heavily into contemporary art—walls covered in collages and paintings and hallways adorned with wire sculptures (all curated by Fabrizio Russo of the Russo Art Gallery), and the menu at Bar Bacharach & Bistrot is as elegant (and Italian) as the outdoor patio, which feels lifted from Roman Holiday. But ultimately it was the private sauna (the private sauna!) in our room that did us in. We booked our next trip before we checked out.
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, Palazzo Pitti
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.
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