Mandarin Oriental conquers Milan – REVIEW

Seven years in the making, Mandarin Oriental, Milan opened its doors last month, establishing itself among the top luxury hotels not only in Milan but also Europe. The Mandarin Oriental Group appointed internationally acclaimed Antonio Citterio architect to oversee the carefully planned project which commanded a meticulous approach and the highest attention to detail.

Combining 4 historical buildings in an ideal location in the heart of Milan, steps from Via Manzoni and Via Montenapoleone, the Mandarin Oriental, Milan is a rare new luxury hotel development which boasts the ultimate quality not only in the materials used but also the quality of construction and finishes. A most warm and welcoming feel is achieved throughout the entire hotel, while retaining a luxe-grand characteristic, kindled by the WOW factor which is to discover throughout the entire hotel.

Despite being located on a small lateral side-street, the main entrance has a drive through and a parking space, the highlight being the archway which welcomes guests. To ensure the hotel equally caters to in-house guests and local Milanese, the planning of the hotel sensibly includes separate direct street access for the Bar and the restaurant, so that people do not necessarily have to pass through the reception area.

The sheer design of the contrasting spaces that make up the main lobby is also resemblant of a Milanese house, with a subtly blended warmth and dramatic design elements. Each space features a first impression apparent striking contrast of colors but which then entice the guest to a deep sense of harmony. A stand-alone vertical fireplace in the middle of the lobby area is definitely the main focus of the lobby area.

No expense has been spared in the choice of materials, predominantly natural wood, a most diverse color palette of the finest marble as well as beautifully finished stones. From the entirely wooden covered elevators, the dramatic black & white contrasted marble in the main Bar which is the vibrant heart of the hotel, to the stunning Spa, the hotel is a feast to the eye. Mention should also be made about the exquisite bathrooms of all accommodations which can easily be perceived as private Spa spaces in each room and suites.

All the furniture pieces and lighting fixtures throughout the entire hotel have been custom made, all being designed by Antonio Citterio. B&B Italia is one of the predominant supplier of the luxury furnishings. Besides the aesthetic and comfort features, there is also a sense of practicality, one such feature being the main oval desk in each room, on wheels which transforms it into a business desk or a dinner table.

The very well balanced rooms / suites ratio (70/34), the generous size (starting at 38sqm) as well as a diversity in terms of layout and design of all accommodations makes the Mandarin Oriental an ideal base for both business and leisure travelers to Milan. The utmost attention has been paid to essentials such as sound-proofing (both indoor and outdoor) and technology.

Each room features complimentary high-speed wi-fi, a sophisticated centrally controlled system of the lighting, DND and housekeeping request. Curtains and AC have been subtly maintained for direct control. The sophisticated sensors which control movements in the room are aimed at saving energy, by decreasing AC speed and reducing light. The lighting and the plush curtains provide for a theatrical feel which was most inspiring to me.

The main restaurant of the restaurant, the find-dining Seta (‘silk’ in Italian) features both outdoor (courtyard) and indoor space with direct views of the courtyard as well as an open glass kitchen. The restaurant is headed by Italian Michelin starred Chef Antonio Guida, the cuisine being inspired by his southern Italian heritage and influenced by Tuscany and France. The gastronomic experience is enhanced by the impeccable service.

Dinners culminate with Chef Nicola Di Lena’s spectacular pastry menu, which is also the highlight of the breakfast.  The wine lists, includes more than 500 labels, both Italian but also international renowned wines. Less than 2 months from opening I was surprised by the large number of local patrons throughout all the dining outlets of the hotel, especially the Bar which has been architecturally conceived as the hub of the hotel. There is an impressive range of cocktails, with an in infinite room for creativity.

The Spa provided for an exceptional experience in surroundings which are inspired by the nature elements – fire, earth and light. The  indoor heated swimming pool, like the rest of the Spa, are impressive in size, considering this is a downtown location within a heritage building. Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group’s inherent DNA for Spas.

I had a sensational Spa treatment with Manuel, a highly trained physiotherapist and masseur – a treatment which was more of a journey to ultimate relaxation with a unique connectivity from the therapist. The sophisticated rain-shower, the heated ”sanctuary-like” swimming pool with its subtle lighting as well as the pure white steam room recreate a most enjoyable pre-treatment experience. My only suggestion for the Spa is to add an organic brand to their existing line-up of products.

As for the service, the hotel boasts a solid standard throughout most outlets with room for improvement in terms of guests recognition and personalization. Compared to most other established luxury hotels in Italy, Mandarin Oriental, Milan already provides a much higher standard.

Take a video tour of the hotel: the Bar / Junior Suite / the Spa. A comprehensive photo gallery is available on our Facebook page.

Oliver Petcu in Milan