MILAN, ITALY: The Grand Hotel et de Milan is a gorgeous 5-star luxury hotel in the very heart of Milan’s fashionable shopping district. A member of Leading Hotels of the World, it has been the premier destination luxury property in Milan since its opening in 1863. It also features the Michelin starred Ristorante Don Carlos, under the direction of Chef Mauro Moia.
The Grand Hotel et de Milan retains the Belle Epoch beauty of its storied past. It shimmers in every detail of its architectural structure and interior design. All while maintaining the full range of modern touches, services, and conveniences expected from a landmark 5-star hotel property.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: Family Heritage, Verdi, and Italian history
The hotel has been owned for more than 50 years by the Bertazzoni family. It has a unique heritage that is specific to a luxury property that is not part of a larger chain. It glories in its history at the heart of Milan, maintaining a sense of class and style that is frequently missing from a more corporate property. Put simply, the Grand Hotel et di Milan is in a class by itself.
The famed composer Guiseppe Verdi stayed at the grand hotel for more than twenty years. He died in his room at the age 87 in 1901. That room has been preserved in its state as it was when the Maestro passed. The spirit of the composer who created the operas Aida, Othello, and Falstaff lives on in the grandeur of the hotel he considered home.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: At the heart of the center or Milan
Grand Hotel et de Milan is brilliantly located close to all the major attractions that are make Milan special. It is a short walk from the La Scala opera house where Verdi had his greatest triumphs. The landmark Galleria Vittoria Emmanuele II, is just across the street from La Scala.
The Galleria also dates from the 1860s and remains one of the most important shopping areas of Milan. Its glass-domed arcades also hold some of Milan’s most famous restaurants. The epic Duomo of Milan, one of Europe’s most impressive cathedrals, and the vast Piazza del Duomo is just on the other side of the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
Milan is synonymous with fashion, and there is no better location to explore the greatest fashion district on the planet than from the Grand Hotel et di Milan. From Versace to Armani, to Cavalli and Blue Marine. The greatest designers in the world are on the streets immediately around the hotel.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: Architectural grandeur and classic design
Its gleaming edifice rises 6 stories above the center of the Fashion District. The classic Belle Epoch design is the work of influential architect Andrea Pizzala. Its Gothic Revival style is a distinctive complement to the grandeur of the notable buildings all around it. This is a hotel for the ages.
At the entrance, the reception desk is all dark woods and classic design features facing across from two large stone arches. This gives way to a gorgeous lobby and sitting area with 20-foot ceilings capped by a large stained-glass cupola.
A large marble fireplace adorns the center of the room, surrounded by floor to ceiling mirrors. The sitting area is filled with grand settees, plush burgundy couches, and green velvet chairs and an aura of magnificence.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: Gerry’s Bar
At the opposite end of the lobby, a series of stone columns mark the entrance to the stunning Gerry’s Bar. A massive rectangular room with a bronze statue in the middle, Gerry’s Bar is topped by a glass and steel ceiling that would make Eiffel jealous. Floor to ceiling draperies interspersed with large mirrors fill the room. Light orange and pale lavender couches and banquets are spread along the side and back walls and in the corners of the room.
The bar itself is a thing of beauty, handcrafted dark wood with elegant carvings and designs. The atmosphere is seductive and electric. It is an elegantly exquisite chamber to relax in and soak up the glory of the room and the moment.
The floors throughout the ground floor are the original marble, flecked with red and gold patterns. The whole lobby and bar area retain the style and feel of the original hotel, as awe-inspiring today as they were 157 years ago when it opened.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: a collection of special hotel rooms
The hotel has 94 rooms spread across 5 floors, with 15 Junior Suites, 5 Superior Suites, 2 Deluxe Suites, and the very special Verdi Suite, dedicated to Giuseppe Verdi. Indeed the 23 Dedicated suites in the hotel are named for many of the great figures who graced the halls of the Grand Hotel et di Milan through the years.
These include Maria Callas (Junior Suite 104), Enrico Caruso (Junior Suite 306), Tamara dem Lempicka (Junior Suite 405), Rudolph Nureyev (Junior Suite 112), and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor (Deluxe Suite 205). Each of them is characterized by a selection of photos, objects, autographic documents or other memories that belonged to the subject or were a part of their lives.
The rooms at Grand Hotel et de Milan: Heritage and history
The 4th-floor Curzio Malaparte suite (Dedicated room 404) is named for the Italian writer and intellectual who was in frequent conflict with Mussolini and regularly sent into exile for his efforts. Photos of Casa Malapatrte, his exile villa in Capri, fill two exhibits in the bedroom.
The floors are covered with blond hardwood in a chevron pattern. Twelve-foot ceilings with plastered crown moldings are accented by gorgeous frosted light fixtures in each of the two rooms. A stunning walnut armoire is in the entryway. The sitting room has a love seat, a glass-topped coffee table, and an antique writing desk.
A sumptuous king-size bed with a dark wood antique headboard fills the bedroom. A graceful painting from the 1800s in a gold frame hangs over the bed. Memorabilia from Curzio Malaparte and his villa in Capri adorn light brown plaster walls.
Antiques, elegance, and the history of Milan
Antique nightstands are on either side of the bed. A lovely circular coffee table with antique chairs sits at the bottom of the mattress. Floor to ceiling curtains graces the large French windows that open over the street of Milan.
Creamy marble covers the spacious bathroom. It is adorned with double sinks and a deep bathtub with a rain shower and handheld spray. A large antique mirror covers the wall above the double sinks. It is a chamber of elegance with exquisite touches at every turn. The personalized aspect of the Dedicated rooms and suites adds an extra special dimension.
All the rooms throughout the hotel have undergone a complete renovation in recent years. All of it adding panache and an elegant sensibility without sacrificing the glorious historical elements that have made the property great.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: Ristorante Don Carlos
Dinner at Ristorante Don Carlos in an immersion into the talents and cuisine of Michelin Starred Chef Mauro Moia. It is an intimate and refined setting, with just 12 tables. Dedicated to the memory of Giuseppe Verdi, the walls are filled with paintings, sketches, and watercolor scene paintings from the Teatro Alla Scala. A number of Verdi’s favorite Sopranos can also be found.
Dark cherry wood wainscoting lends a sumptuous warmth to the room under 15-foot ceilings. The chairs are covered with green velvet with dark wood rims. Square parquet blond wood covers the floor. A floor to ceiling window fills the center of the room. It is grand but intimate parlor of eloquent proportions.
The restaurant fills with well-dressed patrons early, and by 8 pm the room is filled. Matre d’ and head waiter Alessandro Rappozzo is a preternaturally brilliant presence, leading the evening’s procession of food and wine at the tender age of 27. He has been at Don Carlos for three years, and with the hotel for seven. Service throughout the evening is precise and attentive.
Ristorante Don Carlos: Tartar, Octopus, and White Truffle
Salman and sea bass tartare with ribbons of fennel and orange and pink grapefruit slices is an exceptional starter. The generous portions of tartare is fresh and rich. The contrast between the fish Crudo and the crunchy fennel and the sweet grapefruit slices is sensational.
Octopus and Spello beans salad is fantastic. The beans are almost a humus, set under succulent portions of beautifully cooked octopus. The octopus is exceptionally tender with a soft meaty quality, perfectly seasoned. The combination of flavors is outstanding.
This being late November it is white truffle season in Italy. Creamed risotto with pieces of sweetbreads topped with white truffle is a taste treat, the smoky truffle enhancing but not overwhelming the delightful risotto.
Ristorante Don Carlos: Tagliolini and Veal Loin
Tagliolini pasta with truffled butter from Malga in a veal reduction sauce with white truffle is a classic serving of truffle. The tagliolini is simple and relatively unadorned, allowing the generous wafer-thin slices of truffle to take the lead in the flavor profile. The veal just adds just a touch of seasoning, complementing the subtle undertones of truffle. A white truffle tour de force.
Veal loin marinated with herbs, roasted hazelnuts, and topinamber puree with a shimmering layer of white truffle is the grand finale in a trifecta of white truffle delicacies. The veal is perfectly cooked, medium-rare, leaning towards the pink side. It slides across the palette in a sumptuous smoky combination of white truffle undertones. A spectacular trifecta indeed.
The evening is accompanied by a sensational Ca del Bosco 2014 Chardonnay. Rich and minerally, with a bold complex character, it perfectly complements both the fish and meat dishes. Aged in the barrel for three years, this particular Chardonnay is grown in Lombardy and is an especially bold, hearty manifestation of the Chardonnay grape.
Ristorante Don Carlos: Osso Buco
The dinner comes to a climax with an exquisite braised Osso Buco served with saffron risotto. The ossobuco veal shank is slow-cooked, tender, and rich as it slides off the central bone. The risotto is a golden layer of ephemeral joy, beautifully complimenting the meat.
Both the veal loin and the ossobuco are gorgeously accompanied by the remaining glasses of Chardonnay. It is full-bodied grand texture cuts across the flavor profiles of the meat, acting as a separate element of the dishes.
Lingering over coffee and apple strudel, three hours have passed in a pas de deux of exquisite Haute Cuisine. Dinner at Don Pedro is an immersion into a classical history of opera and La Scala, while the innovative hand of Chef Moia reminds us that in this gorgeous setting it is still the culinary journey that takes precedence.
Grand Hotel et de Milan: A lingering sense of elegance
Breakfast is served at the casual restaurant Caruso, a gorgeous two-tiered room under a trio of crystal palm fronded chandeliers. The 20-foot grey plaster ceilings are covered with white plaster designs. A beautiful glass-enclosed veranda is the favorite dining place for lunch on sunny days. It is just one more element of seamless interior design in a hotel that is bursting with them.
Two days at the Grand Hotel et de Milan pass in a fever dream of elegance. After a full day of shopping in the Fashion District. Casually strolling through the Duomo, the Galleria, and past the stunning shrine to Opera at La Scala, it is time to relax.
A drink in the sumptuous quarters of Gerry’s Bar is a chance to reflect on the time here in Milan. Whether coming for business or pleasure, at the center of any trip to Milan is the chance to experience the grandeur, the magnificence, and the splendor of the Grand Hotel et di Milan.
Surely Nureyev, Maria Callas, and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor are but a glimpse of the grand past that awaits. You can almost hear the music of Verdi in the background. It truly is one of the Leading Hotels of the World. Like Milan itself, its gracefulness and elegance call for a the indulgence in a sumptuous stay and a frequent return.
Leading Hotels of the World www.lhw.com @LeadingHotels
Joel Berliner is a travel writer based in Los Angeles. @JoelBerliner
All Photos by Alison Reynolds. @BigAlPeoplesPal