Updated: May 11
Like many others up and down the nation, I am in the full swing of the chaos that is Christmas. I’ve spent days trying to rack my brains what on earth to buy people who have everything, been stuck in mayhem traffic and even almost fought some lady over wrapping paper. This is a far cry from the idyllic “illusion” of the festive season, so I decided to leave all this behind and head for a Christmas shopping break to the Italian fashion capital, Milan.
Famously known as one of the four fashion capitals of the world, Milan in Northern Italy, is the home to iconic Italian fashion houses such as Valentino, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada and Armani. If anywhere was going to help me get some holiday gift inspiration, then the city of Milan with its abundance of luxury shopping and beautiful Christmas decorations was the place to do it.
It’s only fitting then as Italy’s fashion capital, the place to stay is the elegant Armani Hotel Milano. Situated in the prestigious former palazzo Manzoni 31 building in the centre of Milan’s fashion district, Quadrilatero della Moda, the Armani Hotel Milano is perfectly placed to sample the beautiful shopping avenues of Via Montenapoleone and Via della Spiga.
Originally designed by Enrico A. Griffini in 1937, the building has an architectural ground-plan as a giant ‘A’ shape which can only be seen from above, almost like its future life was destined.
Entering the main entrance from Via Manzoni, you are greeted by several gentleman in black Armani suits in an open elegant minimal space. The focal point of the space being the hotel’s signature logo prominently featured as an understated tribute in light to the famous Milan Duomo, the city’s cathedral.
The smartly dressed host, advised me to head to the hotel’s lobby via the elevator on the 7th floor. As the doors opened onto the lobby, an opulent 'oud' like scent filled the room whilst the winter sunshine beamed through the floor to ceiling windows with a panoramic view over the rooftops of Milan.
The entire hotel was designed personally by Giorgio Armani, who wanted to create a world of harmony and privacy with attention to detail. Luxury and a sense of calm were key to the design with Armani himself stating;
I have concentrated all my efforts on delivering my personal aesthetic vision within a precisely defined ambience of total comfort
The interior design reflects the style and philosophy of Armani. The colour scheme in the public areas is a muted collection of taupe, grey, beige and black. Typical of Giorgio Armani’s look, in the 1980’s he was dubbed the “king of greige” by Harpers Bazaar for his extensive use of a grey and beige mix palette that influenced the fashion of the era.
The 7th floor is also home to the Armani/Lounge and the Armani/Bamboo Bar, both offering guests those beautiful views over the city, with The Duomo standing proudly in the distance. The double volume ceiling and louvered all glass wall compliment the Armani Hotel Milano’s signature style; high gloss black flooring, taupe sectional seating and backlit onxy features.
The Armani/Ristorante follows the same design language as the lounge, with a bold checker board style black and white polished marble flooring and grey and sand coloured upholstery. The Michelin-starred restaurant provides a sophisticated ambiance with views over the futuristic skyscrapers of Milan’s Porta Nuova district.
The public areas on the 7th and 8th floor are affectionately known as the “glass hat” of the building and covering the entire top floor is the 1,000 sq mt Armani/SPA.
The panoramic views across the city are enjoyed from the Armani/SPA and its design takes influence from Giorgio Armani’s love of Asia and organic textures and colours. The neutral palette, influenced from bamboo, is contrasted with the dark textured marble khaki green flooring in the swimming pool, sauna and steam rooms.
Moving down the floors, it was time to visit the guest rooms. The Armani Hotel Milano offers 95 rooms and suites ranging from Armani Deluxe Rooms to the Armani Signature Suites which are up to 203 sq mt in size.
As with the entire property, all rooms and suites feature bespoke custom-made furniture from Armani/Casa, Giorgio Armani’s home collection. A key element Armani wanted to achieve was to give every room a small vestibule that creates an intervening space before the intimacy of the bedroom is revealed.
Each room and suite is accessed from the corridor by hidden flush fitting handle-less doors, creating a seamless elegant walk way. The usual array of high-tech amenities you’d expect in a luxury hotel are found such as flat-screen TV’s and mini bars. However an emphasis on creating a visual impact, to keep clean simple lines, TV’s and cupboards housing mini-bars and such vanish into the walls. This design references the passion for order and sense of place pursued by Giorgio Armani in his own homes.
The Armani signature design philosophy continues throughout the rooms and suites. Contrasting the bold use of emerald-green on the Asian and art-deco inspired furniture (to reflect the period mood of the palazzo) to elegant linear sofas upholstered in sophisticated fabrics and backlit wooden bed heads.
The 'Armani Milano Suite', covering 170 sq mt features an outdoor terrace that spans the entire length of the suite giving a unique view of the city. The suite features a dining room and private kitchen, where staff can access by a private door, to keep the much desired privacy Giorgio Armani envisioned.
The Armani Signature suites are double-level suites connected by a magnificent stairway that makes a striking architectural impact. As you walk into the suite the double height ceiling enables vast amounts of light to flood into the 203 sq mt space.
Along with the large living and dining areas, an en-suite master bedroom and private kitchen, guests also have the choice to have the indulgence of a private gym or a cinema room.
Bathrooms are designed for the use of two people and feature the finest fittings. Shower enclosures with one-way glass that allows a view out from inside but no view the other way, to the walls and flooring being clad in Silk Georgette, a smooth creamy brown limestone from Asia.
After enjoying some apéritifs in the Armani/Bamboo Bar, I wanted to continue my interest in the Armani story, so I made the short journey across the city to the company’s museum, Armani/Silos.
I decided to call it Silos because this building used to store food, which is, of course, essential for life. For me, just as much as food, clothes are also a part of life – Giorgio Armani
Walking into Armani/Silos, immediately you can tell it was "Armani" with the design philosophy seen in the hotel, evident here too. Neutral colours and natural materials mixed beautifully with the elegance of pure black and back-lit glass walls. The main atrium of the building rises up three floors with dramatic symmetrical concrete staircases, an art piece in their own right.
As I walked through the building it gave me a real sense of the art and creativity of Giorgio Armani. From the infamous 1980’s “greige” era with the ‘Power Suit’ to the bright and bold Asian influences of the 2000’s.
I found it fascinating to see how his fashion lines throughout his career have influenced the interior to the Armani Hotel Milano and the Armani/Casa collection.
I ended my visit with a little visit to the boy’s room and I was taken aback with the bathrooms of Armani/Silos…they even matched my jacket…damn he is good!