Whenever questioned on how to ensure the success of a commercial venue, Charles Forte, business tycoon and founder of the luxurious hotel chain named after him, would reply without a moment’s hesitation: “Location, location, location". Indeed, location is everything: who wouldn’t be prepared to pay a fortune for a hotel room just two steps away from the church spires of Milan’s Duomo or inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele?
If no such fortune happens to be available and you would like to indulge in a little luxury the next time you pass through Milan, don’t despair: in the city’s five star hotels, there are gourmet experiences to be enjoyed by all, even those with more limited resources. Up to 25, 50 or 100 Euros: here are our recommendations for making the most of a limited budget.
Up to 25 Euros
When you hit the centre of Milan early in the morning, you can do one of two things: either order a coffee and a defrosted brioche in the first bar you come across or treat yourself to a continental breakfast (25 Euros) at the Four Seasons Hotel, splendidly adorned for the festive season. Without breaking the bank and with at least 60 minutes to spare, you can enjoy the magnificent buffet feast: Pata Negra ham, boiled eggs that are never left to get cold, croissants oozing with butter, crisp cereals, muffins and tarts, fruit and plenty more besides. Not to speak of a splendid view of the inner courtyard, that of an ancient palazzo and former monastery.
Then, when you get that sudden longing for a proper afternoon tea, why not stop off at Palazzo Parigi (pictured above) – the new 5 star hotel just a stone’s throw away from the Brera district. The most budget conscious punters will have no qualms about trying the establishment’s famous macarons, comfortably seated in the armchairs of the Caffè Parigi, while taking a peek through the windows of a marvellous Conservatory. The menu also offers dainty sandwiches, biscuits, madeleines and other delicacies baked daily in the hotel kitchens. All to be enjoyed with a tea selection by Ladurée or a flute glass of champagne (from 22 to 30 Euros, from 17 to 19 until March 2016).
If you add one Euro to your budget, in one fell swoop you can taste three of the Italian specialities most appreciated abroad by way of a full immersion in Emilia, the area of Parma to be precise: our gourmet tour has led us to the restaurant of the Hotel Bulgari Milan directed by Neapolitan chef Roberto Di Pinto, where, standing out in the “small bites” section of the menu is a 24 month cured culatello of Zibello Spigaroli, apple chutney and fried gnocco (26 Euros).
From 25 to 50 Euros
While few of us can afford breakfast served in the 10,000 Euros presidential suite on the top floor of the Park Hyatt hotel inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, a club sandwich comfortably consumed sitting down in the lobby is a magnificent snack within everyone’s reach. This more than substantial snack – listed at 29 Euros – has become a mandatory gourmet treat for numerous foodies ever since 2008, when it was pinpointed by Monocle Magazine as one of the world’s best. Here, the kitchen is governed by another Neapolitan, starred chef Andrea Aprea. Don’t miss the Spherical Pastiera, one of his signature dishes (19 Euros): a sphere encapsulating the flavour of Naples’ iconic dessert, to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee.
If, at the end of the day, your train leaves from the Central Station, what better occasion to take a quick look at the Excelsior Hotel Gallia, now splendidly refurbished and extended. Tell the doorman you would like to take an aperitif on the seventh floor with DJ. For 18 Euros, you may order a cocktail with 4 appetizers – do try the raw umbrine carpaccio on toast or the mini-hamburger – prepared by the two Lebano brothers from Naples – trained by three-starred chefs Enrico and Roberto Cerea, who act as consultants to the restaurant.
From 50 to 100 Euros
Not far from Piazza della Scala, in front of the hotel Bulgari, fans of the Mandarin Oriental chain have also been able to enjoy its luxurious hospitality in Milan as of a few months ago. Room rates start from 750 Euros but at the Seta restaurant, the reign of Antonio Guida, former chef of the two-starred Pellicano, a dish from a medley of recipes inspired by traditional Apulian, French and Tuscan cuisines can be enjoyed for less. One main course (43 euros) consists of chicken breast ficatum (with foie gras) served with cream of cannellini beans, fregola (a pasta shape consisting of tiny grains) and garusoli (tiny sea snails). Before serving the dessert and to confer due dignity to the final course, a waiter will change the place setting by removing the magnificent plates with designs by Fornasetti. Your budget of 100 Euros will enable you to taste one of the little masterpieces by pastry chef Nicola Di Lena, not the sumptuous sage-flavoured Soufflé maybe, with pistachio parfait, burrata and white Alba truffle (50 Euros), unless you decide to drink nothing, not even a sip of water. If you choose one of the other desserts priced at 19 Euros, you can even afford a glass of Cellarius Pas Dose Berlucchi 2007 at 18 Euros.