Seven star luxury in Milan
If you're looking for the ultimate in luxury – how about a weekend in the only seven star hotel in Europe? You even get your own butler! Karen Bowerman reports from the Town House Galleria in fashionable Milan.
If you’re looking for the ultimate in luxury – how about a weekend in the only seven star hotel in Europe? You even get your own butler! Karen Bowerman reports from the Town House Galleria in fashionable Milan.
I FLEW Easyjet and was picked up in a Bentley with an immaculately dressed chauffeur who within seconds, made me feel I was only the person in the world that mattered!
He explained, in delightfully broken English, the workings of my personal air conditioning then spent the entire journey concerned whether we had it right.
‘Half a degree cooler maybe?’ he tapped the dial.
‘Or was madam now a little too cool?’
‘Was this (15.7 degrees) about right?’
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‘And what music did I prefer?’ The choice was endless.
As I toyed between jazz and a little Rossini (well, I was staying close to the opera house) we glided through the streets of Milan.
The hotel’s entrance couldn’t have been more discreet - a black door in a small cobbled courtyard - but the seven gold stars said it all. This was the Town House Galleria, the first seven star hotel in Europe and I was in for a treat.
I was swept up to reception in a smooth, glass elevator and introduced to my personal butler (available 24 hours a day). He held out a gloved hand, kissed the back of mine and wished me a pleasant stay.
I’d been promised a George Clooney look-a-like, and although I have to admit I couldn’t quite spot the resemblance, his manner couldn’t have been more obliging.
‘Would I care to see my room?’ he enquired stepping back with a bow and gesturing the way. I tried to pretend such deference was perfectly normal…
The Town House is situated in Milan’s famous Galleria Vittorio Emanuel II, the most stunning shopping mall in the world.
The arcade with its vaulted roof was built in the 1800s to connect Piazza della Scala, home of the famous La Scala Opera House, with Piazza Duomo and its impressive Gothic cathedral.
Light streams in through the impressive glass ceiling, picking out flowers, shells, colonnades and busts carved into the stone walls. There’s the clink of coffee cups; the click of stilettos.
Everything shines and glistens except for the picture of a bull, marked out in the colourful mosaic floor. His genitalia are a little worse for wear. Every now and then visitors poke their heels into the well-worn hole and spin round, for luck.
The Town House is beautifully presented and incredibly chic. Windows are hung with crimson, floor-sweeping drapes. Antique furniture mingles with modern. Tables are decorated with small, round posies.
My suite (with personal gym) overlooks Prada, Cartier and Bulgari. (I notice to my surprise that McDonald’s has crept in too - maybe on the condition it went for more subtle signage).
The bed is furnished with linen of my choice. A comprehensive questionnaire before my arrival had inquired, among other things, if I preferred Hungarian, Siberian, or Egyptian down, duvet or sheets, and what kind of pillows. My tastes (in music, drink, and TV channels) had been duly noted and the room prepared accordingly.
It also came with a high-tech coffee machine, a leather-bound laptop, a wealth of toiletries and instead of a welcome fruit bowl - champagne, caviar and blinis.
Attention to detail
The Town House is so committed to service that it boasts there’s no request it can’t fulfil - a claim some guests seem intent on challenging.
I couldn’t bring myself to ask for anything more than an English newspaper. But at breakfast one couple requested two tickets to the opera. They gave me a wink as if to say ‘that’ll teach them,’ then went that night.
Equally, nothing was too much trouble for my butler. ‘George’ (as I came to call him) ironed my clothes, arranged them neatly in the wardrobe, polished my boots (returning them wrapped in tissue paper in an exquisite lilac leather box), fixed my hairdryer, twice, ran me a bath surrounded by candles and suggested where I could shop.
He even offered to arrange a personal chauffeur and to accompany me - to carry the bags.
At first I found George’s full-on attention a little disconcerting. But it’s amazing how quickly you adapt to change… By the first night of my stay I was already beginning to feel quite at home having George look after me; by the last I didn’t know how I was going to cope without him.
Town House Galleria hotel: www.townhousegalleria.it Via Silvio Pellico, 820121 Milan, Italy.
Easyjet flies to Milan Malpensa from Luton & Gatwick. www.easyjet.com