If Florence is a wise teacher, Naples a glitzy showgirl and
Rome a romantic lover, then Milan is a devoted mama. She offers
everything high-fashion clothing, elegant northern
Italian food and luxurious digs for shelter without
asking for anything in return. Milan says, Im ready
to give you whatever you need, discreetly, in a very soft way,
without being too aggressive or imposing, explains
Vincenzo Finizzola, general manager of the Four Seasons Milano
since its opening in April 1993.
118 rooms, Rates: E610 to E9,460, ($910 to
As unassuming and yet as grand as mama and Milan itself, the
Four Seasons Milano, which was converted from a
15th-century convent to a hotel, stands as a crossroads
linking the citys rich history with modern conveniences
and style. Located on Via Gesù, the hotel is in the
heart of Milans fashion district, within walking distance
of many fabulous boutiques and restaurants as well as most of
the citys banks, insurance companies and law firms.
At the hotel, guests are invited to wander around an
authentic cloister garden replete with white arches, lush
greenery and flowers and wooden benches that call people to
meditation. The winding curves of the spiral staircase, a work
of art that takes guests from the basement to the fourth floor,
look like a rose when viewed from above. With the muted shades
of original 15th-century frescoes dancing above their
heads in select suites as they drift to sleep, guests might
believe they are spending the night in heaven.
Although most of the hotel is understated and true to its
origins as a convent, the all-marble bathrooms
with deep tubs and heated floors are decadently
luxurious. These marble masterpieces are to a Milanese hotel
room what a classic accessory, such as a black leather belt, is
to a Milanese couture outfit. They complete the look.
From the terra-cotta-colored walls in the
deluxe rooms to the blue-, peach- and yellow-inlaid ceilings in
the executive suites, color is fused to bring guests to life.
Fortuny fabrics, Frette linens and pear and sycamore burl
cabinetry remind visitors they are in Italys fashion
capital, where style is as important as function.
Still, even in Milan, a hotel cant survive on
looks alone. There must be something beyond the pretty face.
What we like to say in our hotel is that the real luxury
is service, says Finizzola. You can have a
beautiful product, you can have a beautiful location, you can
have everything but if you dont have the right
service, all the rest is almost nothing.
Catering mainly to Americans, especially businesspeople, the
hotel staff is trained to pay attention to detail. Milan may be
in Italy, but its a bustling city that seeks
discipline and order. If hotel guests order breakfast for 8:00
a.m., it will be served at one second to 8:00, says
Many hotels, including luxury resorts, have cut prices and
services during the recession. The Four Seasons has
avoided discounting, but it offers some packages that include
an American breakfast or 150 food and beverage voucher in
the room rate. And theres been no skimping on service.
Guests who need their shirts to look crisp and fresh for a
morning meeting can still take advantage of the hotels
overnight laundry, and 24-hour room service remains a
delight to travelers who arrive hungry in the wee hours.
Whether visitors want to check out Milans traditional
attractions, such as Leonardo da Vincis Last
Supper or the Duomo, or take a day trip to Lake Como or
Bergamo, the concierge at the hotel will help make it happen,
says Leonardo Bruscagin, the chief concierge, who has been with
the hotel for 12 years. The concierge staff can also arrange
coveted tickets to the opera at La Scala or to an A.C. Milan
The dinner plate is another canvas for stylish Italians. One
of two restaurants at the Four Seasons Milano, Il Teatro, with
its sleek bar and cozy booths, offers simple dishes, such as
chicken with rosemary and lemon, and more sophisticated treats,
such as quail eggs. The Sunday brunch, with its Chocolate
Jungle an entire room filled with chocolate elephants,
monkeys and trees has had all of Milan talking since its
debut in the hotels earliest days.
La Veranda, the hotels other restaurant, is open from
morning until midnight and has more family-friendly
options, including childrens and teen menus. The natives
recommend typical Milanese dishes, including risotto giallo,
which means yellow rice; osso bucco, or braised veal shanks;
and veal cutlet Milanese. For guests who bring their children,
the staff will even leave out milk and cookies for them, just
like mama would.