By Dian Hasan | August 12, 2009
It’s quite surprising that until recently Milan was void of designer hotels that befit its status as fashion capital, a title it shared with fellow cities of Paris, New York and London, each with a myriad of designer stay offerings. Accommodations were limited to a choice of either over-the-top opulence resembling Palazzos, or the dull blandness of international chains. The Gray is representative of a new breed of hotels, one that leans toward modern, daringly designed hotels.
The location is impossible to beat, just off the Piazza del Duomo, near the Galleria and the Scala opera house, in the center of Milan’s shopping and commercial district. The hotel itself is hardly the grand affair one might expect in this Baroque city; it is in fact a converted office, on a humble side street. But inside, it is a modern design playground, starting with the swing, a pink mattress suspended from the ceiling in front of the reception desk.
The 21 guest rooms are in (naturally) 21 different styles, but all bear a certain family resemblance, in ebony wood furniture and ivory-colored fabrics and leather. Two of the suites have private workout rooms, and two others have steam rooms. Flat-screen TVs are standard, and there is wireless internet access all around, fitting for this most businesslike of Italian cities.
Il Bar is, obviously, the bar, and the bar itself is made of white glass, attractive enough in itself but all the more so in contrast with the all-black restaurant upstairs. Le Noir (again, sensibly named) features tables of black lacquer and upholstery of black velvet.
Should it all sound a bit too precious, well, you’ll have to just trust us that it’s not — the Italians have a way of backing up their design bluster with the finest of craftsmanship, supporting style with real substance. This is a fine and comfortable hotel, and small enough to feel like home — definitely a worthy alternative to the grand old-style palaces.