Milan to the Max

A seven-star Milan hotel pushes the limits of luxury.

by Alessandra Ilari


The entrance to Milan’s Town House Galleria hotel is so understated you could miss it. A half dozen potted palm trees stand as the only markers to a doorway. Inside, a glass elevator whisks guests up to the luxurious boutique retreat, housed in the famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II. Most passersby would be more likely to dart into the Prada store on the ground floor.

But that may have been the plan. After all, since the under-the-radar hideaway opened this past March, it’s drawn the kind of ultra-ultrarich who prefer an intimate hotel where they can pad around the lobby in slippers if they wish. “Our clients don’t spend to show off,” says Sara Rosso, who co-owns the 24-room hotel with her brother, Alessandro. (The siblings also own two other Town House hotels in the city and another in Turin.)

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Of course, any hotel that charges more than $1,000 a night, as this one does, promises sky’s-the-limit concierge services. Guests at Milan’s other top hotels—the Four Seasons, the Park Hyatt, the Grand Hotel et de Milan and Principe di Savoia—aren’t exactly fluffing their own pillows. But Town House Galleria, which has butlers on call 24 hours a day, claims to provide something of a level beyond. Upon check-in, guests can have a hot bath waiting for them, scented with essential oils to alleviate jet lag. The staff can arrange VIP access to view Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (the wait is usually four to six weeks), or shop for last-minute presents anywhere in the city.

Inside a suite, with its view of the Galleria

The hotel bills itself as a seven-star establishment, a claim that has raised some eyebrows in the industry. Michelin rates hotels on a one-to-five scale; the certification agency the Rossos cite is SGS, a lesser-known Geneva-based organization. Still, no one argues that Town House Galleria lacks for amenities. Each room has a Montblanc suitcase waiting in the closet for shoppers who can’t squeeze all their purchases into their existing luggage. The accommodations also come with a selection of rare wines in the minibars, laptops in lizard cases, cell phones with GPS, and a choice of linen, cotton or silk sheets. A Bentley ferries guests around town.

The hotel’s designer, Ettore Mocchetti, played off the palazzo’s grand 19th-century architecture, giving the interior a distinctively modern, urban feeling. “There is a plethora of design hotels that look the same from Toronto to Paris to Hong Kong,” says Mocchetti, who is also editor in chief of Italian Architectural Digest. “I wanted it to look international but also Milanese.” The furniture in the lounge area, therefore, exhibits a liberal mix of styles, including a Biedermeier mirror, an 18th-century Chinese console, custom Sawaya & Moroni sofas and contemporary art. The guest rooms are similarly eclectic. Mocchetti himself spent a night in each to tweak the furniture arrangements and position the Muvis wall lamps, which project colored beams of light.

A view of the lounge area

Ever the perfectionist, Mocchetti was even more difficult to please than the hotel’s most spoiled guests. “You can’t imagine the times he asked his men to remake a table because it was only an inch longer than what he had in mind,” recalls Rosso.

It’s true, says the designer: “I’m dying to get back into the rooms to move things around. The problem is that they are always booked.”