An innovative team has transformed a historic palazzo into a showcase of modern Italian design. Jacqueline Kot checks in at the Mandarin Oriental, Milan
Northern italy is home to the latest hotel with roots in the East. A black staircase sweeps down from the luxurious, softly hued suite, landing in a striking bathroom of black-and-white marble, its stand-alone tub, glass-fronted rainforest shower and twin handbasins swimming in an acre of space. This is Milan!
Where else but in the historic centre of Italian fashion and design could one make such an elegant entrance to a bathroom? Welcome to the latest addition to the Mandarin Oriental family, a dazzling makeover of 18th-century premises that began life as Palazzo Confalonieri and once headquartered a provincial bank.
You can bank on the Mandarin Oriental brand. It has delivered all the opulent touches it’s known for in this swanky Italian job. Bang
in the middle of the fashionable Quadrilatero district, it’s surrounded by the city’s luxury boutiques and fashion houses, and is just a short walk from its famous opera house, La Scala, and the Duomo.
In its reimagining of the palazzo, Antonio Citterio Patricia Viel Interiors has taken inspiration from 1940s Milanese decor to create a thoroughly modern atmosphere that pays homage to the city’s design pedigree—with a touch of the East. Think pastel-coloured walls, oak wood fittings, comfy Italian furniture, leafy courtyards and terraces, displays of calla lilies and orchids, and understated luxury. The 104 rooms and suites look onto the courtyards, or across historic streets and rooftops.
The hotel’s main entrance, which is via a discreet side lane, opens into a lovely lobby of warm pastel shades and a welcoming open fireplace. The adjacent Mandarin Bar steps the relaxed ambience up a notch with walls and floors clothed in vibrant mosaics of black-and-white marble, offset by a picturesque courtyard and secluded lounge area. It’s a hive of activity day and night, starting with breakfast. Forget the big buffets of other hotels; the Mandarin Oriental’s is a service-oriented affair, with the choice of a charcuterie platter or dim sum to augment the fruit and pastries from the continental canon.
Come the evening aperitivo hour, the bar, which can be entered directly from the exclusive shopping mecca of Via Monte di Pietà, is the place to be. While its decor shares similarities with its Hong Kong sister, MO Bar, the cocktails have a decidedly Milanese twist. Try the Coppa Meneghina, a
THE LATEST ADDITION TO THE MANDARIN ORIENTAL FAMILY IS A DAZZLING MAKEOVER OF 18TH-CENTURY PREMISES THAT BEGAN LIFE AS PALAZZO CONFALONIERI
unique twist on the classic Campari spritz, which combines vanilla liqueur, red fruits, apple, cucumber, mint and the refreshing citrus soda Cedrata Tassoni with Campari, the iconic herb-infused liqueur invented in 1860 just west of Milan.
Award-winning Puglia-raised chef Antonio Guida, whose former restaurant won two Michelin stars under his tutelage, is the maestro of the Mandarin Oriental’s kitchens. For the bar, he oversees a variety of delicious light meals and snacks served throughout the day, and an à la carte menu for lunch and dinner. For the hotel’s fine-dining restaurant, Seta—where diners can sit al fresco at white-covered tables between potted trees in another charming courtyard—he combines the cooking styles and flavours of Puglia and Tuscany with a dash of France.
The new Milan establishment includes a branch of The Spa at Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a sumptuous retreat designed with the principles of feng shui in mind. Locally sourced ingredients such as honey, olive oil and rose oil are incorporated into its relaxing, Eastern-influenced therapies—all the better to get you recharged and back out onto Via Montenapoleone for more shopping.
lap of luxury Clockwise from left: The impressive Presidential Suite; the dramatic black-and-white decor of the Mandarin Bar’s bistro area; the elegant courtyard area at fine-dining restaurant Seta
The Mandarin Terrace Suite has a long balcony that looks down onto the courtyard and across the tiled rooftops of downtown Milan
elegant surrounds From left: The marble-clad bathroom in the Presidential Suite; one of the hotel’s Deluxe rooms