Words by Kathryn Tomasetti
Milan’s style industry shapes its hip hotels, bars and shops. Its fabulous fashion folk prove that (wo) man can indeed survive on sushi and coffee alone.
Where to Stay in Milan
One visiting A-lister called the Hotel Principe di Savoia (piazza della Repubblica 17, +39 02 62301, hotelprincipedisavoia.com, room-only doubles from £305) a “home-from-home”. If your pad is a Versailles-inspired rococo pleasure palace then you’ll fit right in here too. Sweetest suite? The five-room corner apartment with private lift and in-room pool. Previous occupant? HRH Elizabeth II. Nearby, the Armani Hotel Milano (via Manzoni 31, +39 02 8883 8888, milan.armanihotels.com, room-only doubles from £465) has been out-blinging all-comers since 2011. Choose skyline views or peek at your partner through the one-way glass shower screen. More deals are cut behind the louvered blinds of its Armani/Ristorante than alongside the catwalk itself. The bargain-chic hotel award goes to the Antica Locanda dei Mercanti (via San Tomaso, +39 805 4080, locanda.it, room-only doubles from £185). Ceiling fans replace A/C. Fresh flowers replace colour TVs. After all, who wants to watch CNN in bed when you have an iPad?
Where to Go Out in Milan
Post-catwalk cocktails and canapés taste best at Pasticceria Cucchi (corso Genova, 1 +39 02 8940 9793, pasticceriacucchi.it). Indeed, this six-decade old pastry’n’prosecco joint caters for several shows too. Bigger fish swim through the hotel bars of Four Seasons Milano (via Gesù 6, +39 02 77088, fourseasons.com/milan) and the Bulgari (via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7b, +39 02 805 8051, bulgarihotels.com). The former does a killer Sunday brunch (Domenico and Stefano are regulars); the latter boasts a 4,000m2 enchanted garden. Milan dons its dancing shoes late in the evening. Hollywood (corso Como 15, +39 02 659 8996, discotecahollywood.com) is a fashionista favourite, while Byblos’ (via Gesù 17, +39 02 764207, byblosmilano.com) outdoor garden rocks until dawn. Decadent Plastic’s (viale Umbria 120) motto is 'No lists, No tables, No reservations'. And for that Milanese comedown, Bar Basso (via Plinio 39, +39 02 2940 0580, barbasso.com) is an 'old man's bar' that serves time-honoured versions of classic aperitivo Spritz.
Where to Eat in Milan
Some cities have places to be seen, and places to lick the spoon clean. Milan combines both. Mario Testino swears by Bagutta (via Bagutta, 14, +39 02 7600 2767, bagutta.it), self-proposed spiritual home of poets, editors, photographers and models. Expect traditional dishes like risotto alla Milanese and cotoletta alla Milanese (yep, inspired names both). Far more stylish is Da Giacomo (via Pasquale Sottocorno, +39 02 7602 3313, giacomomilano.com) - Madonna drops by when in town. Here moneyed Milanese dig into simple grilled fish and very messy pizza. The credit-crunched can lunch at their cut-price Bistro next door. Tom Ford prefers simple culatello and bresaola starters at Trattoria alle Langhe (corso Como 6, +39 02 655 4279, trattoriaallelanghe.com). Chasing press load up on the self-same antipasti for less at Ristorante da Ilia (via Lecco 1, +39 02 2952 1895, ristorante-ilia.it), a ten-minute walk away. For brunch, move no further than the Sheraton Diana Majestic’s (viale Piave 42, +39 02 20581, sheratondianamajestic.com) garden. Their salumeria spread is a lesson in self-restraint. It’s so good they now serve up on Saturdays (€34), as well as Sundays (€43).
Where to Shop in Milan
Where to start? Few places do shopping quite like Milan. It’s essential to make the most of the designer retail heaven that is the ‘Quadrilatero d'Oro’ – via della Spiga, via Manzoni, via Sant’Andrea and via Montenapolene. This grid of streets is jam-packed with über-labels from Pucci (via Montenapolene 14, home.emiliopucci.com) to Paul Smith (via Manzoni 30, paulsmith.co.uk). D Magazine in via Montenapoleone (dmagazine.it) purveys last season’s designer threads for outlet prices. (Wear them when you get home, natch.) Wait and See (via Santa Marta 14, waitandsee.it) melds homegrown one-offs and big Italian labels with aplomb, under the stewardship of glamorous owner Uberta Zambeletti. The ever popular – if rather unspectacular – Excelsior (corso Vittorio Emanuele, excelsiormilano.com) department store is always packed during Fashion Week.
Don’t Leave Milan Without
Visiting the Wok concept store (via Col di Lana 5a, +39 289829700, wok-store.com). They vend the newly cool to the classically hip, including – this season – the inaugural autumn/winter range from Milan’s hottest talent Arthur Arbesser (+39 02 5412 0359, arthurarbesser.com).
What to Wear in Milan
Italians live by their wits, not by the rules. Unless you’re in Milan for Fashion Week that is. City style is on-trend only (so no brownie points for shabby chic). This season that means sharp trouser suits, long, full skirts and the occasional leopard print
Beauty SOS – Where to Go for Pampering in Milan
Club 10 (piazza della Repubblica 17, +39 02 62301, hotelprincipedisavoia.com) on the top floor of the Principe di Savoia. Hang out in the hamman, lounge in the lap pool or gaze from the balcony over Zaha Hadid's rising CityLife tower, which opens for business in north Milan in 2014.