When The White Lotus chose a breathtaking cliffside resort—the Domenico Palace, Taormina, A Four Seasons Hotel—in Sicily as the playground for all the drama of the second season, they unintentionally raised the bar for what is considered impressive when it comes to Italian hotels. But one hotel in Milan doesn’t feel the need to compete: Hotel Principe di Savoia.
Since opening its doors as the Principe di Savoia, Milan in 1927, the hotel has offered the traditional hospitality of a grand resort—not unlike the kind you would find in Sicily—in an unapologetically urban setting. While its location far removed from the heart of Milan, just south of the central railway station, was at first seen as illogical, it soon became its advantage, as it made the hotel easily accessible for the burgeoning business tycoons of the early 20th century.
The influential crowd who stayed here would expand beyond the Italian elite to include everyone from international royalty such as the Prince of Monaco and the Duke of Windsor to political figures—Evita Peron and Aga Khan—to celebrities like Elizabeth Taylor and Madonna. While notable guests were likely drawn to the hotel for its shared spaces that embody the stylish city of Milan—think: dining surrounded by sparkling Swarovski crystals in the Tavoli Crystal Room—the hotel’s presidential suite is arguably their greatest selling point.
Upon arriving on the 10th floor, a private entrance makes way to a grand arched hallway with a frescoed ceiling and marble floors. Each of the three bedrooms off this hallway are unique. The first bedroom is enveloped in emerald velvet walls, accented with Damascus style curtains. In the second, a romantic wall painting of Paris’ Bagatelle Gardens serves as the backdrop for a lavish green velvet couch. The third and largest bedroom is the antithesis to minimalism with its yellow striped walls, Aubusson-style floral carpet and melange of sumptuous textures. A framed mirror on the wall of the bedroom can be transformed into a television.
The same mirrored TV concept is found in the living room which is similarly a lesson in maximalism. Here, both the walls and ceilings are made of a rich mahogany, which, rather than make the space feel smaller, imbue it with an air of intimate sophistication. With its grand piano, full dining room and handcrafted sofas, it’s hard not to imagine the parties that have been thrown here. Wrapped around the living room is a balcony overlooking the Piazza della Repubblica.
But it’s the pool room that makes this presidential suite fit for a queen (yes, Queen Elizabeth has stayed here), or better yet—a Roman emperor. For it was the Pantheon and villas of Pompeii that served as the inspiration for the hand-painted ceiling frescoes and ornate mosaic and marble patterns that are reflected by the pool’s heated water. No detail was left untouched—the 17th century chandeliers and wall sconces were reproduced in the same factories in Murano where the originals were created. Behind the striking pool lies a private hammam making this a full-blown, in-room spa. It’s no wonder the room was Sophia Coppola’s set of choice for her 2010 film Somewhere.
The $18,000 euro nightly rate includes a 24-hour butler and chauffeur service, as well as add-on amenities such as a fruit and flower display, pastries at tea-time, and champagne and canapes in the evening. Table and bed linen, cutlery and china are all custom made for the suite.
If you don’t need 4,413-square-feet of luxe living offered by the presidential suite, you can still feel a part of the hotel’s glitz and glamor staying in one of their 301 guest rooms. No two rooms are unique but they all showcase 19th century design. The Mosaic rooms feature marble baths and handmade glass mosaics while the Principe Suites are decorated with hand-painted frescoes. Imperial suites strike the perfect balance of tradition and modernity with a crocodile skin writing desk, Turkish bath and chromotherapy massage shower. Guests who appreciate the in-room spa amenities won’t want to miss the spa services offered at the Club 10 Fitness and Beauty Center on the tenth floor.
Being the Milan hotel of choice for the international elite for nearly a century, Hotel Principe di Savoia doesn’t need to do much to attract guests—its reputation sells itself. Yet they continue to innovate, to keep up with Milan’s contemporary pulse. The Principe di Savoia is the only hotel to partner with Fabbrica de Duomo for a private tour of the Duomo after 6 p.m. Similar exclusive art experiences offered by the hotel are in the works at The Last Supper and Palazzo de Royal.
The hotel also recently launched their own signature gin inspired by two local regulars who own a gin factory, and this summer, a partnership with the iconic Milan speakeasy 1930 Cocktail Bar offers guests a specially curated cocktail menu. Bespoke guest experiences offered year-round include wine tasting and pasta making at the hotel, as well as luxury yacht cruises and custom city itineraries.
While travelers’ obsession with Italy waxes and wanes over the years, the Hotel Principe di Savoia doesn’t seem worried that the destination’s eventual fade from the limelight will affect them. The hotel has survived the destruction caused by World War II, and the decline in leisure travel during the Great Depression in the 1930s. No matter the changes that have occurred around it, in Milan or the country at large, Hotel Principe di Savoia has persisted for nearly a century, because this hotel is a destination in itself.
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