When the timeless allure of famed Italian fashion designer Giorgio Armani's understated elegance in haute couture is transferred to the interiors of a hotel, you can be assured that the results will be stunning. His foray into accommodation design was at the Armani Hotel in Dubai. Now he returns to his homeland to open the Armani Hotel in Milan.
The designer saw great possibilities for a hotel in an existing 1930s palazzo designed by Enrico A. Griffini, situated in the buzzy Via Manzoni.
"The powerful exterior of the building, with its strong lines and stonework, was my starting point for the project," explains the debonair 78-year-old. "I wanted to express my personal design aesthetic within a precisely defined ambience of luxury, calm and beauty."
Major construction work on the building has seen the original six-storey edifice topped with a glass, two-floor addition. On the eighth floor you'll find the luxury spa, which covers almost 1,200 square metres and features six dedicated treatment rooms, including the spectacular Couples Suite, a gym and swimming pool.
The rooftop garden, covered with tall bamboo, offers spectacular views across the city and is sure to become a popular spot during the warmer months.
One floor down, the restaurant sits below an impressive seven-metre-high ceiling and is encased entirely in glass.
"Milan is the city I love and have made my home, so I want to showcase the best of Italian and Milanese cuisine," says Armani when explaining the menu which includes, among its many dishes, veal Milanese and saffron rice. The Chef's Table, placed right next to the kitchen, is sure to be one of the city's hottest dining tickets for visiting gourmands.
The interiors are a reflection of Armani's taste and aesthetics. "I wanted the spaces to be integrated, so that there is a sense of connection between the rooms and the public areas," the designer says.
As a reflection of his design philosophy, which has been so successful on the catwalk, Armani says he was not looking to follow "fashionable trends or something never seen before". Meant to be long-lasting, he wants the interiors to be practical, logical and rational without losing glamour or richness of quality.
The colour palette was selected to be elegant and relaxing. It features his iconic "greige", creamy brown, olive green and mother of pearl. Most of the furniture and homewares have been designed by Armani, and many, such as the 1930s-styled armchairs, sport his preference for sleek, linear shapes.
Armani's admiration of Asia is evident in the recurring bamboo motifs which embellish fabrics and screens.
Armani is known for his love of perfection, and it shows from the moment you step into the lobby. Guests are greeted on arrival by their personal lifestyle manager before being whisked up to the seventh floor for a personalised check-in. Guests can choose what best suits their needs from 95 rooms and suites.
Those looking for something exceptional should reserve one of the two Presidential Suites. Covering 200 square metres, over two levels, the most striking architectural element is the magnificent curved stairway linking the two floors.
An important design feature in every room and suite is the entrance vestibule that creates an intervening space before the intimacy of the bedroom is revealed.Prosaic objects such as minibars and high-tech amenities all vanish inside cupboards which, in turn, seem to be part of the walls. It's a reference to Armani's passion for order and sense of space which is paramount in his personal life.
All the furnishings in the hotel share the Armani/Casa collection signature, but have been given luxurious finishes to reflect the 1930s mood of the palazzo. Precious fabrics cover the sofas and armchairs and the elegant wooden bedheads are backlit for optimal effect.
Giorgio Armani has grand plans to expand his group of hotels over the coming years with new properties in London, Paris, New York and Marrakesh.
"These beautiful hotels are the legacy I want to leave behind for future generations," he reveals.
— Scott Adams is a Madrid-based freelance writer
Milan and Palermo, Italy
From Dubai to Milan for Dh3,820. Fly Alitalia from Milan to Palermo for Dh570.
— Information courtesy the Holiday Lounge by Dnata. Ph: 04 3492886