With the opening of the Armani Hotel Milano, Giorgio Armani has cornered the market on chic in his hometown. Alexandra Marshall checks in.
Of the heavyweight Italian fashion houses, none have locked up Milan, the industry’s capital, like Giorgio Armani. The designer’s mega-ads for Emporio Armani and Armani Jeans have plastered the busy intersection of vias Broletto and dell’Orso since 1980; he co-owns the city’s basketball team—called, naturally, EA7 Emporio Armani; and it is also here, on Via Manzoni, that he has his flagship, a veritable department store featuring capsule lines of Armani chocolates, flowers, and books. Now comes Armani Hotel Milano.
In 2010, Armani debuted his first hotel in Dubai in the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The Milan outpost occupies just four floors atop the Via Manzoni flagship, but the views are gorgeous, spotlighting the duomo, which Armani has abstracted into the property’s logo. The hotel is rather intimate, with only 95 rooms, but each one is grand in size, starting at 430 square feet and going up to five times that. “First and foremost, the perfect room should be spacious,” says the 77-year-old designer. “Next, it must be perfect in every detail.” So the lacquer cabinets hide minibars loaded with spirits and Armani-brand water. (Yes, he also does water.) Furniture is made from goatskin leather, shagreen, and liquid metal, a handcrafted powdered-metal alloy. Technical flourishes include a hidden camera at each door that allows guests to see on their television who’s knocking.
Service is pure Armani minimal elegance: Guests are tended to by floating “lifestyle managers” (dressed identically in black suits, of course) who are available at the press of a button. And everywhere, Armani/Privé Bois d’Encens lingers in the air. Armani has said he created the fragrance to capture the smell of old Italian churches, but here, too, in this more modern temple of luxury, it works beautifully.