Milan in winter – the capital of fashion or the poor industrial relations of Florence and Rome? Within minutes of arriving in the city and the beautiful window displays of Prada, Armani, Fendi (take your pick), you know the answer. You don’t even have to care about fashion (I can’t say I do, really) to fall in love with the city.
Then there are the Italian classics: strong coffee, good food, better wine, fine architecture. Milan adds something special to those people. Sometimes, being on an urban safari is like strolling through the town center (it’s quite walkable) – only the well-dressed and the ones you respect.
It was therefore fitting that there was no better place to do this than the Hotel Portrait Milano.
Where is he?
The Portrait Milano has 16 people who have benefited from it artisticallyth century seminar in the fashion district – between Coroso Venezia and the via Sant’Andrea. It’s 90 seconds or so to the nearest metro (smart and punctual service) at San Babila. The large and magnificent Duomo with its large array of plinths topped with statues is a few minutes’ walk away. What about Milan you can’t reach on foot is just a short, easy ride underground (or tram, if the mood takes you).
Where to start? The Portrait of Milan is almost all styles, but as good as any place is what you see when you walk in (albeit a Baroque gate, no less): a peaceful stone public square, set with two stories of a pair of columns , on top of it. Immaculate tile roof. Inside, the reception is just as calm. Carefully selected art books rest on low tables, framed against angular art on the walls and geometric patterns on the thick carpet.
The hotel has its own artistic team – and it shows. Perhaps the highlight – although it is one of many – is the library, full of more beautiful books, heavy pictures (on Vivienne Westwood, Horror cinema, catwalks through the years, and so on) decorating the shelves and lying on the tables. It’s a great place, not only to soak in the beauty on the page, but to people watch beautifully dressed Milanos glide past on their way to the elegant dining room.
Upstairs, on the first and second floors, are the bedrooms. The colors are rich and deep: mostly gold, maroon and cream. Other rooms swap the red for green. The guiding principle is the desire to recreate the high-class, soothing Milanese houses of the fifties. Elegant wooden and rattan wardrobes are fitted with long leather handles (they are the craftsmanship of the northern Italian cities). Each room features a pink drawing of a Ferragamo shoe, matched with another piece of art elsewhere in the room. The large bathrooms are all marble and very visible (an effect that could be incomprehensible if the dimmer switch were not handy).
Away from the rooms the stylish staff is charming, helpful, and as immediate as you would like. The hotel is beautiful, but it is the staff that bring it to life.
Food and Drink
Meals are served (unless you choose room service) in the restaurant, 10_11. Breakfast was a highlight. The buffet had everything a glutton could dream of: pastries (including custard-filled puffs, cornetti, and other Milanese specialties), yogurt, fruit, whole honeycomb, cold meats, fine bread, juice – and even bottles of fizz on ice. . The highlight, however, were the breakfast cakes (yes, you read that right) which were somehow tastier than they looked: the pistachio and date was highlight number.
10_11 Milano portrait
Dinner was a more formal, intimate affair. The wine list was long and impressive, with local offerings and also many from further afield. To start we had tripe, which was much better than it sounds: tasty, spongy and succulent. It was on the mains, however, that the Portrait struck its only duff note. A cheesy cashew sweet potato mash type dish was uninspiring. The ‘fried cod with crispy potatoes’ didn’t work either. “Fish and chips!” declared the happy waitress as she lifted the lid off the dish. Alas, a mistranslation from the Americans landed us with a plate of deep-fried cod and… crisps. Oh dear. Desert came to the rescue with a gluttonous chocolate cake with a top so glossy I could practically see my own reflection as I drooled hilariously over it.
A huge horseshoe bar 9 meters long spans the two rooms in the restaurant, 10_11. One half has low tables and chairs, while the other with a more formal dining room arrangement sees guests looking out onto the garden – a pleasant space (improved by original 16.th a particularly beautiful century statue of Chris) right in the heart of the hectic center of Milan.
The aforementioned library is the perfect place to exult in the world of fashion, art, and architecture in charming pictorial form. Coming this summer is a full underfloor fitness suite. It promises a spacious gym, a swimming pool in a vaulted room full of columns, and lots of ‘biohacking’ treatments that combat, if not arrest, the aging process.
It is not just a hotel that resides in the renovated Seminary. In fact it is a public square – even if the security guard doesn’t care when you enter. In addition to the colonies of the public square, Milan and the Ferragamo project, there are several high-end fashion stores. One, So-Le Studio, features the eco-conscious jewelery produced by Maria Sole Ferragamo, granddaughter of Salvatore Ferragamo, whose family owns the hotel. It’s a fun space with some great designs – and prices that aren’t exorbitant by Milanese standards. Other highlights include Antonia, a clothing store, and another commercial offering that sells streetwear (but, oh, good-looking streetwear). Later this year, BeefBar, a restaurant in Monte Carlo – no need to explain the name, although apparently they will have vegan dishes – will open in another corner of the courtyard.
We stayed in a deluxe studio garden, but the different options are not very different (perhaps the biggest difference is the dominant color: green or red). They are all luxurious – as you would expect at these prices – and finished to an amazing standard. The rooms are spacious, but not cavernous. They are divided into neat sections – in fact it feels a little like you are at home, although many of us can say that we have a bed so big that we can sleep in it without knowing that there is another person in it too? (This other person, who I hurried to, was my girlfriend – not a stranger who had dropped in furtively).
If you want to moonlight as part of the fashion elite, look no further. An intoxicating blend of elegance, style and Italian flair, you’ll feel – and be treated – like a star. The Milano Portrait is the perfect base for exploring Milan’s fashion quarter (it’s literally on the hotel’s west doorstep), or further afield in the city if you choose.
Rooms start from €935 per night. Portrait Milano is part of the Lungarno collection. It can be found on Via Sant’Andrea, 10, 20121, and Corso Venezia, 11, 20121. For more information or to book a place, visit lungarnocollection.com