Savour La Dolce Vita at Milan’s luxurious Hotel Principe di Savoia

Effortless elegance meets timeless tradition at the luxurious Hotel Principe di Savoia in Milan. A destination hotel for the cognoscenti since the 1920’s, this stunning Neoclassical hotel (owned by Dorchester Collection) has welcomed heads of state to fashionistas to captains of industry.

This landmark hotel takes pride of place on the Piazza della Repubblica in Milan’s business district of Porta Nuova. Only a 20-minute taxi from Linate airport, Hotel Principe di Savoia is a seductive mix of Old World luxury combined with the latest high tech. Guest have included such luminaries as Charlie Chaplin and Josephine Baker, Evita Peron and Maria Callas, and more recently Madonna.

We arrive on an unseasonally warm October afternoon, this my first visit to the city. Arguably lacking the beauty of her southern sisters, what Milan lacks in aesthetics she makes up for in sheer energy and pride of place. The capital of finance and fashion, the Milanese are justifiably proud of their city, exemplified in finely cut tailoring, sharp suits and attitude. The women here look gorgeous. As does the foyer of Hotel Principe di Savoia – a cool marble and Murano glass chandelier backdrop to classical paintings, and a unique carbon sculptures from designer Alistair Gibson. The Principe Bar, undoubtedly one of the sexiest hotels bars I’ve ever seen, has also been transformed under the expert eye of New York designer Thierry Dupont who has created a decadent marble and velvet sanctuary to see and be seen. I could linger long here but have a massage appointment on the top floor at Club 10 – the sports and spa area.

My therapist Noemi is very professional and very thorough. My knots are undone and I can move my head again. I enjoy a relaxing steam, sauna, Jacuzzi and swim in the pool afterwards. From the outside terrace there are 180-degree views of Milan across Porta Nuova – Milan’s main business district, the newest area of the city. A well-equipped gym is on this floor too.

Relaxing in my room before dinner at Il Solferino, I’m enjoying the classic feel of the décor: think soft textures, fine fabric curtains, and mosaics in the well-appointed bathroom. A writing desk in an alcove between the bedroom and bathroom is a thoughtful design touch, and there is plenty of wardrobe space. And thankfully, the windows open allowing fresh air into the room. Nothing worse than being incubated in air-con. Well done Hotel Principe di Savoia! The lighting in the room is excellent.

Il Solferino is an intimate family-run restaurant and a local favourite with a superb wine list (I loved the Bertani Amarone) and a great selection of classic and modern Italian dishes. The veal Milanese was divine, as was my white truffle pasta and succulent salted crust sea bass. Somehow our group managed dessert: mill-feuille affair and tiramisu. Awesome.

Hotel Principe di Savoia has 257 rooms and 44 suites across its 10 floors, including nine new Principe Suites from London-based architect Francesca Basu. Imagine deep purple sumptuous sofas, Murano glassware on Lombardy style tables and Lasa marble baths. My favourite for decadence is the sumptuous Presidential Suite replete with its own private pool, sauna, Jacuzzi and hammam. An astonishing 5,400sq ft. of sheer luxury combining French and Italian design with gold, wood and velvet accents.

Hotel Principe di Savoia has an exciting Sensory Tour for guests, which we joined the following morning – amply fortified by the best scrambled eggs I have ever tasted. We joined our guide, author and fragrance expert Mariangela Rossi, for a visit to the renowned Atelier Fragrance Milano. This laboratory/office is the base for Luca Maffei, one of Milan’s most renowned ‘noses’. He creates fragrances for many top brands. “It can take 8 months to a year to get the perfume right,” he tells us, as we waft sample after sample, before cleansing our olfactories by a sniff of our own skin. Incredibly this man can smell 1,000 different scents. And tells us that just 1kg of Bulgarian rose oil (the best) takes 4 tonnes of rose petals.

Still on the floral theme we said bongiorno to former lawyer-turned-florist Margherita Angelucci in her artisan florist shop Foglie Fiori E Fantasia. Using seasonal flowers and herbs, the place is alive with colour and scent. And it was scent on the nose once again at olfactory boutique Perfume by Calé on Corso Magenta. There are many boutique fragrances for sale here, and you can also have your own signature scent offered to you via a short perfumery test.

Our olfactory senses thus heightened we stopped for a light lunch at nearby Om Food. A light-filled bistro serving organic food (and skin products) tucked away in a delightful courtyard. The parent company Officinali di Montaudo makes organic oils and cosmetics in Tuscany, some of which are available to buy in the restaurant.

After an energetic workout in the gym later in the day, I’ve sufficient welcome for a fabulous meal at Hotel Principe di Savoia’s own Michelin-starred restaurant, Acanto. Executive Chef Alessandro Buffolino is creating magic with his Italian-inspired cuisine. Fois gras and porcini segued into risotto and torellos. My Ruchè di Castagnole Monferrato red was superb, and excellent pairing with delicious crusted lamb. We opted for single dishes but there is also the option of a 6-course tasting menu. Desserts were classic Italian – complete with a dry ice extravaganza. My fabulous sweet Maculan Torcolato 2008 from the Veneto region was an especially inspired choice from our sommelier.

We spent the following day on an excellent guided tour of La Scala, Galeria Vittorio Emanuele and the Piazza del Duomo. All must-sees on my first visit to Milan. Construction took a staggering 582 years and is the seat of the Archbishop of Milan, Mario Delpini. The Duomo is the fifth largest Christian church in the world and completely dominates the Piazza del Duomo. Inside the interiors are breathtaking. It even has a sundial. Take the lift to the rooftop for spectacular views of the Piazza and surrounding area – Italians definitely do it better.

Hotel Principe di Savoia is ideally located near the artistic district of Brera, home to bars and restaurants, and is within walking distance of the Quadrilatero d’Oro, the city’s exclusive shopping district. There is also a very welcome complimentary shuttle service to the city centre, as well as valet parking. Even small pets are allowed at Hotel Principe di Savoia.

Dining at Acanto just went up a level with the launch of its new Tavolo Cristallo private table dining experience. Surrounded by a wall of glittering Swarovski crystals, guests can enjoy bespoke menus created by Alessandro Buffolino and their own dedicated host.  I’ll book this for my next visit to Hotel Principe di Savoia, surely one of the very best hotels in Milan.

Where & How
Where: Hotel Principe di Savoia, Piazza della Repubblica 17, 20124, Milano, Italy.
How: Please phone +39.02.6230.5555, email or visit to find out more and make a booking.