Do you know a hidden treasure that has cast a spell over people for centuries and yet still hides its real truth to this day? Whether true or fiction – at least there are works of art by important painters who still leave room for speculation and envelop an entire city in their myth.
“The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci is one of them. The brilliant scientist and artist once came to Milan to become famous. To this day, Da Vinci’s works fascinate historians, artists and travelers.
His work of art “The Last Supper” took four years of work and has already been restored several times after its completion. A considered strategy? To this day, critics are undecided – are there puzzling characters and letters hidden in the painting? At least these speculations became part of the hit thriller “The Da Vinci Code – Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown.
The 38 square meter area of the painting is unmistakably one thing: spectacular art. For me, this landmark embodies the unique character of the city of Milan in a painting: perfection, a love of lively shapes and colors and a growing creativity. In the truest sense of the word: Restoration work is still taking place on the plant, so that visits to the dining room of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery are only possible to a very limited extent and with long waiting times.
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I recommend an exclusive, private tour of the Last Supper. This is offered to you when you stay at the Mandarin Oriental Milan. At the same time you can enjoy another highlight of Milan: probably the best city hotel. Let me explain this in more detail.
The Mandarin Oriental Milan: Artistic Perfection
Munich, London, Madrid or Milan – the hotels of the Mandarin Oriental hotel group have one thing in common: They are real city gems in the center of the action. The boutiques and showrooms of well-known Italian designers such as Armani, Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Salvatore Ferragamo and Versace can be reached in a few minutes in Quadrilatero della Moda, one of the most important fashion districts in the world.
The unmistakable Italian style and flair for design are also carried over to the Mandarin Oriental Milan. At least I feel like I should meet Giorgio Armani in the lobby any minute. Dressed in the custom-made suit from the new collection, of course. And indeed, upon entering the hotel, I discover noble, black and dark materials. Not from the pens of Armani, but the hardware that I discover from the front door to my room fascinates me at least as much.
Glamorous Art Nouveau in Milan – Carsten C. Rath at the “Mandarin Oriental”
The architect Antonio Citterio brings the typical Milanese style with oriental accents to a total work of art in the hotel. Lightly refined wood skilfully breaks up the cool elegance of the gray materials. I have seldom seen such perfectly thought-out rooms. Everything is in the right place, adapts to the design and takes on its assigned task in the artistic ensemble.
My feudal box spring bed is a revelation. The socket next to the bed is not just an opening in the wall. It is the subtle interruption of an elegantly designed room delimitation that also happens to charge my iPad. With electricity from renewable energies, of course. The entire decor of the hotel is spectacular. My bathroom is finished with black marble, even the shower head looks like a self-contained work of art. If I were looking for the holy Hotel Grail, I would have finally found it here in Milan after a long search.
Service dream in Milan
As a reader of my column, you know that I am a demanding guest. For me, a five-star luxury promise goes far beyond first-class hotel facilities. As a guest, I want to feel completely at ease and the service at Mandarin is impeccable. I meet a very young and excellent team. The stylish manners make you want to watch the service staff at work.
So I noticed the harmonious cooperation very quickly. I actually get the impression that the team has known each other for 50 years and has been working together for at least 60 years. As mentioned, it is probably the youngest team that I have ever been able to experience in a hotel. Luca Finardi, General Manager Mandarin Oriental, Milan, knows better than anyone how to inspire his team and acts like a fine conductor in the background. He has known the Mandarin Oriental Group for over eight years from various professional positions. At the same time, he is committed to sustainable tourism in the city. Local products and careful use of resources are a matter of course at the Mandarin Oriental.
Check-in goes smoothly. The employee at the desk notices, without my asking you, that I want to get to my room quickly. So I am led directly into the same, just present my vaccination certificate. Everything else will be handled later. This is exactly what I want from professionals: They recognize my wishes even before I express them.
The breakfast buffet is more than generous. This can be seen, for example, in 18 different Danish pastries. Buttery, tender croissants and impressively symmetrical pancakes at a breakfast buffet await me in the morning. As well as fresh fruit. Only the milk on the coffee machine is missing, but that is part of the service concept. A young lady explains to me, “We like to serve you your milk fresh.” This is how I refine my coffee with warm, fresh coffee additives. What better way to start the day?
Milan during the day and a current travel warning for the evening
As you know, I like to see the cities on a lap run. So I ask the concierge Mario if he has a good tip for me. He immediately has a suitable answer ready: “There are two running routes: one that everyone runs and one that I use personally and which my best guests recommend when they ask me.” Of course, I opt for the last option – the running route leads me through the back entrance of the hotel. After only one kilometer I reach a wonderful park, the Orto Botanico di Brera. The green city oasis is from the 18th century and offers a great running route of 3.5 kilometers. I run several laps at the same time. Incidentally, you also have an urban view of the outdoors directly from the loggia of the Mandarin Oriental.
After an espresso in one of the numerous Italian espresso bars, you are ready for a long shopping spree. In addition to the covered shopping arcade Gallerie Vittorio Emanuelle II, you will discover La Rinascente, another well-known shopping center. In addition to the current fashion, the passages and buildings are already worth seeing.
The famous Pinacoteco di Brera is just a five-minute walk from the hotel. Works by Italian masters such as Raffael and Andrea Mantegna will inspire you here. If you wish, the Mandarin team will of course organize a private tour for you. Van Gogh, Manet and Picasso’s works can be found in the Gallerie d’Arte Moderne, a ten-minute walk east.
In addition to art and the shopping streets, Milan is also known for its patisserie. My personal tip: Make sure you try a juicy Danish pastry in the one directly opposite the Thomae Apostoli church, just a stone’s throw from the Mandarin Oriental.
My evening restaurant is also only 300 meters away from the Mandarin Oriental. But be careful: Now follows (unfortunately) a current travel warning. Because in The Manzoni restaurant I experience how design can stand in its own way. The entrepreneur and internationally known artist Tom Dixon presents his latest design innovations to guests at Manzoni. But the guest stands in the way.
Unfortunately, the young ladies at the reception don’t remember my reservation or the arrangements. Frankly, I’m worried about their health, they didn’t seem to remember anything. So I stand at the desk full of anticipation, wait for my seat and get – unfortunately nothing at all. My table was given to a larger party, and I got neither another table nor a meal that evening. In the end, the service experience is not recommendable despite the design ambience.
Conclusion: Milan and the Mandarin Oriental inspire
Everything is great at Mandarin Oriental. Service and luxury promises are on par with the best hotels in Germany, the Vier Jahreszeiten Hamburg, the little brother Mandarin Oriental in Munich and of course the Breidenbacher Hof in Düsseldorf.
I would have liked to have stayed in the City of Fashion and the Arts and the hotel longer. Both exude an extraordinary atmosphere that also inspires me as a traveling entrepreneur. I can very well understand Da Vinci’s wish to come to Milan. And who knows, maybe his hidden writings also point to Via Andegari, 9, to the Madarin Oriental Milan.
About the author: As a former grand hotelier and operator of a travel platform, Carsten K. Rath is a professional globetrotter. He travels to all of the hotels he writes about for the Handelsblatt on his own account. Rath is the source of ideas for the new ranking “The 101 Best Hotels in Germany”, of which the Handelsblatt is one of the partners.
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