Article first published in Forbes Monaco December 2021/ January 22.
The Term “Lifestyle manager” may sound like a hefty promise when it comes to assigning hotel guests their own personal uber-butler to anticipate their every need, but at the Hotel Armani Milano, it actually works. Call it the innovative “home-away-from-home” philosophy dreamed up by the Italian designer, Giorgio Armani—this ultra- professional service is just part of the personalized total comfort experience of your stay.
Following the whopping success of the Armani Hotel Dubai, a joint venture with UAE-based Emaar properties, the 2011 launch of the group’s second hotel in Milan—Armani’s native turf—was the next logical step. Ten years later, this sleekly luxurious 95-room refuge is still going strong, thanks to its striking aesthetic and superb offerings. The designer was said to have dreamed up every infinitesimal detail, from the beige leather- lined walls and glowing backlit lighting fixtures to cupboards that magically disappear into the walls or even the precise length of the fluffy bath towels.
Located in the heart of the city’s luxury fashion district, Quadrilatero della Moda, and a stroll away from the spectacular Piazza del Duomo, the Hotel Armani Milano building’s rationalism architecture was originally erected by architect Enrico A. Griffini in 1937. The spacious elegant rooms, spread over 6 stories, offer a range of deluxe options, including the two-level Signature Suite with a private screening room and the sprawling 190-square-meter Presidential Suite, said to be the largest in Milan.
The wow-factor continues up on the seventh and eighth floors, which looks something like a glowing glass hat atop the rest of the building, where the public spaces are situated. Expect a sophisticated fashion and business crowd at the highly popular “A”-shaped Bamboo Bar, which offers breathtaking vistas of the city rooftops through the louvered windows. The menu of creativecraft cocktails is equally impressive; try the famous Insalata Caprese, with organic vodka, fresh tomato juice and a mozzarella mousse, sprinkled with basil, or the India Colada,a spin on the Pina Colada with coconut foam and black cherries.
Stay for dinner at the Armani/Ristorante, headed by talented chef Francesco Mascheroni, whose modern Italian cuisine features signature dishes including creative combos like lamb ravioli or prawns with passion fruit and carrot, plus the famous Liu chu chocolate dessert with Amalfi lemon and candied ginger, shaped like an A, a luscious culinary nod to the world of Armani.
Work it off the next morning at state-of-the-art fitness center, up on he eighth-floor, where the sleek spa (lined with rare green marble) is also located. Everything from the bespoke treatments (a choice of tailor-made therapies) and relaxation pool is part of the restorative process—when you’re finally ready to explore the city, you can count on the very best tips from the hotel’s savvy team.
Some things never change. Over a century ago, when French poet Jean Cocteau stayed at Rome’s celebrated Hotel de Russie, he famously called it a “paradise on earth.” Today, this landmark gorgeously refurbished 19th-century palazzo, an eclectic mix of Italianate classical and contemporary styles, continues to attract glitterati, from the Hollywood elite and fashionistas as well as prominent figures in the arts world and in the political arena.
And it’s no wonder, beginning with the hotel’s unbeatable location between the Piazza del Populo and the Spanish Steps and near some of the city’s best shopping district on Via Condotti, but that’s not all. Surrounded by fragrant terraced gardens and bitter orange groves, this 122-room oasis is enchantingly secluded from the hubbub of city life, with unique features from a superb spa to alfresco dining at Le Jardin de Russie in a leafy private starlit courtyard.
Under the management of the Rocco Forte Hotel group since 2000, the Hotel de Russie owes its name to an illustrious group of former guests, including many members of the Russian Imperial House and the Russian Romantic painters, who had a predilection for this enviable spot while visiting the Eternal City. Add to that the spectacular greenery, extending from Via del Babuino up to the Pincian Hill, then merging into Villa Borghese Park, which was originally created by 18th- century landscape architect, Giuseppe Valadier. These days, you can still wander in the utterly peaceful “Secret Garden,” ablaze with flowers, centennial trees and spectacular white and cream rose bushes.
The rooms and lavish suites, designed by Olga Polizzi, come in all shapes and sizes, with modern interiors, polished dark woods and opulent marble and mosaic bathrooms. Among some of the most sought-after suites is the latest addition, the luminous Suite Valadier, overlooking his masterfully conceived garden, with floor-to-ceiling windows and French balconies and a medley of yellows and greens to match the hillside views.
In keeping with other celebrated guests of the hotel, there is also the vast Picasso Suite (pictured), with touches of the great master’s style with prints and cushions of his design, plus an exquisitely outfitted living room, dining room and small library. Another show-stopper, the pastel- hued Nijinsky Suite, inspired by the Russian dancer and choreographer, Vaslav Nijinsky, is a splendid mix of the Italian contemporary furnishings and traditional handpicked pieces, with a vast private terrace (pictured) for lounging.
And you won’t go hungry. If you are craving a light healthy snack at any time during the day, the Stravinskij Bar serves up market-fresh salads; come sunset, guests drift downstairs for an aperitivo (try the Stravinskij Spritz or a Roman-style G&T) and then dine in the Jardin de Russie, helmed by Michelin- starred chef, Fulvio Pierangelini, whose flavorful signature dishes include local seafood specialties with the finest ingredients and local olive oil, from a Passatina di Ceci e Gamberi (puree of organic chickpea with shrimp) to a divine ravioli cacio e pepe.
In sync with the creative “green attitude” cuisine of Mediterranean seafood and vegetable combos, the spa’s new cosmetic line Forte Organics contain no less than 75 active organic ingredients, blended with olive oil and water from Sicily’s Madonie Regional Natural Park. And, if ever you can tear yourself from the saltwater hydropool, the hotel offers exclusive outings to explore the gardens of La Fattoria
delle Ville Pontificie, where you sample home-grown produce and take a cooking class to learn how to make everything from pasta to a divine local dessert.
Article first published in Forbes Monaco December 2021/ January 22.