PRINCIPE DI SAVOIA reclaims its top spot of luxury Milanese hotels

Founded in 1927, Principe di Savoia has been a Milanese landmark luxury hotel, a favourite of many international celebrities such as Edward VIII, Erich Maria Remarque, Charlie Chaplin, Josephine Baker, The Aga Khan, Aristotle Onassis, Evita Peron, Maria Callas and in its more recent history Madonna, David Beckham and George Clooney among others. The hotel has established itself as a luxury hospitality institution, thanks to its exceptional facilities as well as the top level customer service.

In 2003, the hotel was bought by the Sultan of Brunei and included in the DORCHESTER COLLECTION, a small chain of directly owned and operated luxury hotels, named after the Dorchester, the famous London hotel. The Dorchester Collection today includes several other palace hotels: Plaza Athenee and Le Meurice in Paris, Bel Air and Beverly Hills Hotel in California and the New York Palace.

However, the Principe di Savoia did not undergo renovation until late 2008, which had a slow start until mid 2009 when it went into full speed, not only renovating and refurbishing most of the rooms and suites but also public spaces. A roof top luxury SPA, the Club 10 was added in 2007, when the hotel also opened Acanto, an award winning gastronomical restaurant.

I returned to the Principe di Savoia in February 2011, more than 7 years after my previous visit, to find a perfect hotel. My return was more than just a pleasant surprise but also the end of an ”adventure” which culminated with my arrival at another five star hotel in Milan, after a 11 hour flight from Russia, to find that they had booked the same date but on the following month. And all of this, on the first day of Milan Fashion Week, the busiest night of the year in the Italian capital of fashion. With a lobby packed with guests checking in before 2 pm, I was fortunate to be taken care of the Front Office Manager. In my intense travels throughout the world’s top luxury hotels, rarely have I been treated more professionally by a front office professional. Without the smallest ”corner eye look”, due to my nationality, which, unfrtunately, I encountered in many other Italian luxury hotels, he assigned me a room which he said it is one of the best. After such a long trip, I couldn’t wait to get into a hot shower and a bed, the least check the specifics of the room. I did ask, however, if the room was renovated (with my older perception of the hotel in my mind) and he confirmed it was a renovated room, an Executive category.

To my utmost surprise, the ”room” was actually a suite, twice as large as the same category within the competing Milan hotels, not to mention the very high ceiling, majestic windows, an elegant foyer, a large marble bathroom with separate glass enclosed shower and a spacious dressing room. Having recently stayed at other new properties such as Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas or the One & Only The Palm Dubai, I could not help but notice the quality of the finishes and materials used (the cherry wood doors and floors) but also the quality of the furniture and technical facilities – brand new airconditioning control panel (which actually works when setting an exact temperature on automatic), high speed wi fi, interactive television and entertainment and a very smart lighting throughout the entire space, instilling an air of warmness and privacy but at the same time maintaining functionality.

Above all facilities abd beautiful decor, the Principe is about its people, from the fresh, crisp fragrance which the room service attendant is wearing at 5.30 am to the genuine, the warm smile of the hostess at the Acanto Restaurant to the perfect formal attire of the concierge, ready to meet any requirements no matter the time of the day. Staff are attentive, intuitive and manage to provide a very personalized service despite the high capacity of the hotel (over 400 rooms). Other ”details”: Acqua di Parma toiletries in the rooms, including bath salts, Kanebo cosmetics treatments in the SPA, fresh royal orchids and white / red roses throughout the lobby and restaurants, Bernardeau porcelaine and the list is almost endless…

Is there any other better way to start your day than going down with the elevator with young actress Katie Holmes, Tom Cruise’s wife, who is on the way to attending a fashion show ? Or rub shoulder with the fashion elite, most of them and sometimes evesdropping on the chit chat of American fashion journalists and buyers all dressed up at the morning breakfast, ready for the line up of the catwalk shows ?

Oliver Petcu