Set in concrete
Duomo on your doorstep
Get this when you book through us:
A free drink of your choice at Straf Bar, and a platter of seasonal fruit
Rates from (ex tax)$210.38 If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days. Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR215.11), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days.
Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR215.11), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
Set in concrete
Duomo on your doorstep
Get this when you book through us:
A free drink of your choice at Straf Bar, and a platter of seasonal fruit
64, including three suites
12 noon, but flexible, subject to availability and a charge (half the daily room rate between 2pm and 5pm; a full day’s rate after 5pm). Earliest check-in, 2pm.
Double rooms from $210.38 (€196), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.
If you haven’t entered any dates, the rate shown is provided directly by the hotel and represents the cheapest double room (including tax) available in the next 21 days. Prices have been converted from the hotel’s local currency (EUR215.11), via openexchangerates.org, using today’s exchange rate.
Rates usually include Continental breakfast.
Fitness room, valet parking, free WiFi throughout. In-rooms: flatscreen TV, minibar.
Book a Wellbeing Room (we heart 504) for its bold burnished brass bathroom, minimal monochrome decor, glittering glass surfaces and, above all, electronic massage chair. These rooms also have an aromatherapy and chromotherapy corner (a suite of mood-improving gadgets which, when activated, change the lighting colour, and emit puffs of scented air). Suite 604 has a moody black stone bathroom; 605’s is dazzling white (both rooms have Duomo-facing balconies).
Pack your most fashionista outfits; huge, extra-dark sunglasses.
Little dogs (the fashionable kind) are invited, too.
Welcome: extra beds are free for under-12s; €88 a night for teens.
Sit in the corner booth by the glass wall for the most privacy. For easy access to the buffet at breakfast, sit at the other end, closest to the spread.
As directional as the decor: Jil Sander for the ladies, Alexander Wang for the gents.
Breakfast and lunch are served in a neat little room, with glossy white table tops, square leather seats and textured colour-block canvases. The novel Euro-Asian fusion à la carte lunch menu has dishes such as Thai pasta or salmon with black rice. Dinner isn’t on offer, but a complimentary Milanese finger-food buffet is laid out at 6.30pm.
Dark, compact and edgy Straf Bar is a magnet for the fashion set, drawn here by the retro good looks (aged leather sofa, acid-green lightshade mushrooming from the ceiling), potent cocktails and generous nibbles. Drinking sessions officially end at midnight, but it’s often open later.
For dinner, 10.30pm. The bar closes at midnight but will stay open later for you if you ask.
It’s drinks-only by day: try one of the exotic teas (sweet pan yong golden needle, or kimono: green tea with rose petals and cherry) from 7am. In the evening, a selection of Italian staples can be ordered until 10.30pm.
Milan has three airports: Linate (30 minutes from Bulgari Hotel), Milan Bergamo (45 minutes) and Malpensa (50 minutes). There are no trains from Linate, but the 73 bus will drop you at Piazza San Babila, just a 10-minute walk from the hotel. There are trains every half hour (until 11.10pm) from Malpensa to Piazzale Cadorna (10 minutes away by taxi). From Linate, your only option is the Terravision express coach, which will take you to Milano Centrale station in 60 minutes (around 10 minutes from the hotel).
The hotel is a 10-minute taxi journey from Milano Centrale station, where you can get local and regional trains to the rest of Italy and elsewhere in Europe. Be warned, express trains cost more than the regional equivalents which make more stops; see Trenitalia (www.trenitalia.icom) for details.
The hotel is right next to the Cathedral, so once in Milan, simply follow signs to the centre or ‘duomo’ to find it. You probably won’t need to drive within the city; plus, Milan is well-served by public transport, with both a metro and tram system. You may well want a car to visit Bergamo, one of the most beautiful cities in Northern Italy and just under an hour’s car drive away. Guests receive a discount at a nearby private garage with valet parking.
Visit Sforzesco Castle (+39 02 8846 3700), a leisurely 15-minute stroll from the hotel; there’s a museum of ancient art on the ground floor of the Corte Ducale, a stash of antique furnishings, and a selection of musical instruments on the first and second floors of the rocchetta (little fort).
Modern, elegant Cracco on Via Victor Hugo is where chef Carlo Cracco brings Milanese food into the 21st century – and has earned it two Michelin stars for his trouble (+39 02 87 6774; closed Sunday). Dedicated to Verdi (and with all the operatic decor that entails). Don Carlos on Via Manzoni is another Michelin-garlanded eatery serving up beautiful-looking dishes – shame about the price tag (+39 02 7231 4604). Sparkling-white Chatulle on Via Piero della Francesca (+39 02 342008) serves imaginative Italian cuisine in sophisticated surroundings. Locals are justly proud of Antica Trattoria della Pesa on Viale Pasubio (+39 02 655 5741). Go there to sample Milanese favourites – risotto, plate-sized breaded veal and osso bucco with gremolata. La Libera on Via Palermo (+39 02 805 3603; ) is an unassuming little restaurant (it calls itself a beer cellar plus kitchen) with dark wood decor and accomplished comfort cooking. Try the mustardy veal kidneys or the excellent seafood. Chandelier on Via Broggi (+39 02 2024 0458) is a place you’ll either love or hate, with red-velvet decor, chandeliers, crucifix-covered drapes and dressed-up mannequins; the food comes second but is tasty. Claudio Sadler prepares seafood with a nouvelle approach at Sadler on Via Troilo (+39 2 5810 4451). Giulio Pane e Ojo on Via Muratori (+39 02 545 6189), is a low-key option for good Roman cuisine. Nobu on Via Croce Rossa (+39 2 7231 8645) does Japanese-Peruvian fusion like its global siblings, in a corner of the Armani mini-mall. Gioia 69 on Via Melchiorre Gioia (+39 2 667 10180) is a super-trendy combination of moodily magnificent restaurant and black-velvet lounge bar.
Pasticceria Marchesi, on Via Santa Maria alla Porta, is renowned for its coffee and cake (+39 02 876 730). Cova on Via Montenapoleone is famous for its rice pudding – stop here for post-shopping star-spotting (+39 02 7600 5599).
At aperitivo time, the Porta Ticinese area gets packed out; a few hours here is a quintessential Milanese experience. Stay up late for Bar Basso (+39 02 2940 0580) and its potent cocktails at 39 Via Plinio. Roialto on Via Piero della Francesca is 700 square metres of restaurant, cocktail bar and cigar bar, with a rooftop pool (+39 02 3493 6616). Executive Lounge (aka the Fiat Open Lounge) on Via di Tocqueville is a candlelit Indonesian-style bar with cushions and low wooden tables, open until 2am (+39 02 2900 2267; www.executivelounge.it). By the entrance to Parco Sempione on Via Luigi Camoens, Just Cavalli Café is as flamboyant and sexy as one of designer Roberto Cavalli’s clinging mini-dresses, all oriental fabrics and antelope furs, open until 2am.
The architect and artist behind Hotel Straf is meditating atop a mountain peak in a toga, chewing goji berries and ruminating on his future hotel’s interior design. He fingers his mala beads. ‘Coloured soft furnishings? Pah. Wallpaper? So last season. Carpet, schmarpet. Door knobs? Such bad energy.’ He turns to a gnomish devotee beside him, and intones: ‘My one indulgence shall be: the Wellday massage chair – more knot-kneading than a thousand masseuses, more relaxing than a thousand bubble baths. And – the people – they shall come.’ With that, he levitates.
Now, I can’t verify that Vincenzo de Cotiis actually designed Straf quite like that. But it’s how the minimalist and modern interiors should have been conceived. When Mr Smith and I arrive at the hotel’s secretive, beetle-black entrance, we trip over a smiley man in a hoodie and trainers, who opens the glass door for us. ‘Wow, what polite staff – even off-duty,’ we muse. Turns out he’s wearing the front-desk uniform. We’re in Milan, remember: a hoodie here is as smart as an amorphous garment can be.
Minutes later, our room-inspection routine is underway. Surroundings are surveyed. Soft furnishings: nil. Walls: concrete, putty-coloured. Floor: concrete, putty-coloured. Bed: low, topped with putty-coloured cover. A splodgy black artwork has an acid-yellow lozenge on it: the room’s sole non-putty hit. Soaps have batch numbers. The bathroom is a vision of oxidised brass. (I later discover that showering here is like bathing in a giant tin. And it’s surprisingly sexy.)
Such aesthetic severity does funny things to Mr Smith. I can hear mutterings from our metallic bathroom: ‘What? That’s the tissue dispenser?’ Locating the minibar is tantamount to seeking out the Holy Grail. We stand helplessly before a giant sliding glass door. ‘It must be hidden down a trap-door,’ we conclude. ‘A secret underground passageway that leads to the Duomo perhaps?’ suggests a getting-carried-away Mr Smith (our hotel is steps from the sacred stone behemoth). Thirty minutes later, we reach an anticlimactic conclusion: the glass panel is stuck. With an almighty shove, Mr Smith uncovers a little fridge, stocked with wine and nibbles.
Snacks demolished, and massage chair tested (I’m saving up for one; they’re only $2,795), we venture out. I wasn’t sure I’d like Milan. I’d heard it was industrial, unsightly, even hostile in parts, and I’d read somewhere that if you aren’t wearing Gucci, waiters actually cannot see you. Yet coming here proves like falling in love with a friend’s ex-boyfriend: they’ve warned you against him, but all you can see is his sexy side.
Strolling around, we unwrap Milan bit by bit. Cherry trees in blowsy blossom billow by the cathedral. Friendly and funny waiters feed us delicious pasta. The fashion capital is of course full of shops (and retail is my religion). The sun shines. Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II glitters with fripperies, and there are people wearing dandified uniforms. There’s a moment of panic when I realise I’m sans sunglasses (this is akin to going without trousers in Britain). I purchase some. Disaster averted.
We shoot up to the top of the Duomo in a lift. The roof is slanted like a giant Toblerone. A billion feet (roughly) above ground, I make an inconvenient discovery: I suffer from vertigo. We come down again, sharpish. We wander inside the Gothic cathedral and watch a service. A lady sings like an angel, and a shockingly embarrassing thing happens: whenever her voice soars into the silence, rivers of tears run down my face. Worried I might start speaking in tongues, and unable to fight the spiritual tremors, I quickly drag Mr Smith into the secular security of outdoors.
Religious highs give way to fleamarket thrills. At Fiera di Senigallia, in the canal district, hipsters mingle and vintage Prada luggage costs €100. We pretend to be Italian. We are in love. We are also at our most glamorous. For my funeral I want pictures of us in Milan emblazoned across my coffin. I shall pretend this is how I always looked: clad in black cape and skinny jeans, black pumps, Chanel bag, giant sunglasses, and a bouffant up-do that is admired (bizarrely) by an Italian stallholder. (Him, pointing at my head: ‘Thees ees from your miiind?’ Me: ‘Sorry? What?’ Him: ‘Youu cam up with thees look from your miiind?’ Me: ‘Er. Yes.’ Him: ‘I liiiiike. Iz niice!’ Me: ‘Thanks. Goodbye.’)
After obliterating our earnings, it’s time for an utterly futile mission. A minibreak wouldn’t be complete without one fruitless pilgrimage. We trundle around: footsore, thirsty, seeking a phantom restaurant. An hour later, we arrive. It’s closed. We perk up with espressos at Pasticceria Marchesi, followed by Campari and olives at Resentin. Because we’re hungry, we linger. Since landing in Milan, I’ve been dreaming about risotto Milanese. We order big bowls, and tuck in. The saffron lends a flavour I can only describe as mediaeval – try it, you’ll understand.
It’s testament to Straf’s greatness that, amid Milan’s many distractions, we miss our neat-as-a-bento-box boudoir. We hop on an apricot-yellow tram, and 10 minutes later, I’m back in that massage chair, being rubbed robotically, and listening to opera on the TV’s inbuilt stereo. I’m so happy, I start bawling like a baby. (Again.) Mr Smith has no choice but to order a bottle of prosecco.
Our stay in Milan has had the emotional range of a Shakespearean drama: tears, laughter, lust (luggage-induced) and love. I’ve felt my knees wobble with fear, and I’ve cried buckets. It rained. Twice. Despite this, here at Straf Hotel, Mr Smith and I have had a blast. Vincenzo de Cotiis – grazie mille.
Location and staff were helpful and friendly. Bar and tapas hour excellent.
Luxury...concrete walls and floors with minimal soft furnishing. Quite dark and industrial. I found the breakfast room claustrophobic.
The location. The staff were great. The massage chair was amazing! Go to the Aperol Spritz Bar – yes, it's touristy, but great view of the square.
For the bar to be open late – it closes quite early.
Location was fantastic, the room was quiet (4th floor at the back) breakfast was simple but nice. The bar downstairs served a great happy hour - apertivo.
It was nice to stay somewhere unusual, in a great location. Nice to feel annonymous! Go to the top floor of the departmant store opposite for a lovely meal and view. Fabulous gelato at the end of the street!
To find the controls to everything quickly - we found this fun! Breakfast is a bit haphazard - not really enough room for everyone!
Our room was 107. Even though it was on the first floor it was very quiet. The hotel was in a perfect location. The action outside our room was always fun to watch. We were directly across from La Rinascente,Department Store. We loved being a stones throw from the Duomo and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele I I and Teatro alla Scala. The view of the duomo from the 7th floor food court was amazing. It was a great place to sit and drink a cappuccino.
Lavish body products in bath. Luckily I brought my own.
The location, and the brass bathroom in the suite. Super cool hotel with a great trendy bar.
Exceptionally cool hotel in the best possible location in Central Milano. The staff on the reception desk were incredibly helpful and couldn't do enough for you - the panettone was very welcoming too! The Straf bar was a highlight too during apertivo with great cocktails and achingly cool music and people, definitely the place to be. We went our the relaxation room with the massage chair which was great after a long day in the City. Nine out of 10.
The breakfasts were rather chaotic with too many people in a small room at peak times and the staff couldn't cope. They should maybe use the bar area as overspill. We also had to change rooms as there was building work going on next door.