THE WEEKEND: Milan may be the epicentre of Italy’s fashion industry, but it’s also a town which has – at times – suffered somewhat from an image problem. Predominantly known as Italy’s financial capital, it has fallen foul of some travellers, and is considered a tad dull. They would rather go in search of Rome’s epic proportions, say, or the Renaissance splendour of Florence. The new Casa Baglioni hotel intends to put an end to all that by celebrating the design heritage of the city and showcasing the artisan district of Brera, where it is located.
THE STAY: The luxury hospitality group Baglioni has hotels throughout Italy, as well as in London and the Maldives. The new Casa Baglioni is its ninth, and most petite, offering. The name ‘casa’ reveals more about its concept of offering a private house ambience – something you immediately feel on arrival. There’s no reception desk and instead, you are greeted with a fuss-free check-in in a lobby that looks like a very cool lounge.
Located in a Liberty-style building from 1913, architect Federico Spagnulo was inspired by the Brera district’s heyday of the 1960s. It was an area of Milan which became a hub for leading artists, designers and thinkers – such as architect Gio Ponti and painter Agostino Bonalumi – and saw the ignition of the dolce vita era.
While public spaces are small, bedrooms – and there are only 30 – are indulgently large (even at entry level) and super stylish. Suites have separate living areas with metal bookshelves holding a specially curated collection of Italian-themed books and artefacts. Spagnulo’s references to 60s design are beautifully executed: beds have curved walnut headboards, geometric carpets give a nod to art by Enrico Castellani and specially-made metal lights reference sculptures by Fausto Melotti. There are tactile wallpapers by Rubelli and rich fabrics by Dedar (both brands have showrooms in the area) and luxury bathrooms with egg-shaped tubs and herringbone floor tiles.
“Beauty is not enough,” Federico says. “Design also needs to be in keeping with the locality. At Casa Baglioni, I wanted to focus on this very exact episode of Milanese history– of Brera in the 60s. After all, Milan’s modern-day status as a powerhouse of fashion and design stems from that time.”
THE FOOD: Michelin-starred chef Claudio Sadler has moved his Milanese restaurant to the hotel. His gourmet masterpieces include riffs on Milanese classics – such as tuna carpaccio with tuna sauce quenelle and caper leaves and tortelli with squid carbonara style. For the more adventurous, there are also inventive options too – from the milk-braised veal tongue to the grilled pigeon in vadouvan sauce. With amuse-bouche and wine pairings, every meal is elevated to a theatrical experience.
DON’T MISS: The hotel offers insider tours of the Brera district – including an art tour, that includes visits to the botanical gardens (once part of a Jesuit monastery) and art gallery Pinacoteca di Brera. The food tour, meanwhile, takes in the famous Bar Jamaica, where 60s artists would congregate, and newer openings, such as Fabbrica del Grano, where you can buy a healthier style of pasta made from ancient grains.
NEED TO KNOW: Rates at Casa Baglioni in Milan, Italy start from £690 per night, room only.