During Fashion Week earlier this June, I had pleasure of staying at the luxurious Bulgari Hotel Milano. Being one of Milan’s most popular hotels, the location’s design surpassed all levels of expectation.
The first Bulgari hotel was opened in Milan in Via Privata Fratelli Gabba, 7b on May 18th 2004. The opening marked the entry of the Bulgari Group – one of the major players in the luxury business – into hospitality.
10 years later, the hotel celebrated its anniversary with the unveiling of freshly renovated rooms and public spaces, a new spa collaboration, and culinary treats.
The three key elements that distinguish the hotel are its unique location, its contemporary design, and the variety of services, all of which have been crafted with the same attention to quality that has always distinguished Bulgari creations. Located in beautiful Brera – one of Milan’s most prestigious districts and one rich in cultural heritage and close to luxury shopping attractions – the Bulgari Hotel is set in the centre of a bright 4000m2 private garden next to the Botanical Gardens.
The hotel comprises just 58 rooms and suites, most with garden views. Impeccable standards of service are tailored for each guest, and delivered by more than 100 employees under the direction of General Manager Attilio Marro. The restaurant, the bar with terrace and lounge in the garden, private dining room, cigar room and the spa have also been planned with the local Milanese residents in mind and have become a local, social destination. Two boardrooms seating up to 35 guests and a private dining room are available for meetings or private gatherings.
At the heart of the Bulgari Hotel Milan is a delicate balance between rigorous design of the space and the richness of atmospheres, achieved through the use of heavy, solid materials such as black marble from Zimbabwe and bronze. Situated in Via Gabba, the building dates from the 1950s. The design sensibilities of that era, combined with the smart design of the street built up over the past thirty years, all serve to highlight the hotel’s graphical composition. The white marble façade creates a refined and light mood that contrasts with the massive design of the neighbouring stone buildings. The windows – framed by eaves in black granite and outlined in dyed oak – stand out form a visual counterpoint to the restored 18th- century part of the façade.
As guests approach the building, the garden can be glimpsed through a wall of vegetation. The narrow and high windows of the lobby look over the entrance court into a tall sliding door that’s sheltered by a massive cantilever roof in bronze. Mirrored windowpanes reflect the set-designed garden while transparent panes reveal the majestic sequence of the five-meter high interiors. The use of black granite and Burmese teak wood create an elegant, though informal environment that is perfectly in line with the garden, itself an extension on the interiors. In addition to the transparency of the façade created by a mix of bronze and glass, the blackness of the granite gives the interiors a monumental character. In the lounge, images from Bulgari archives frame the fireplace.
In the passageways, the white and black colours of the communal areas are repeated: graphite-dyed oak and upholstered fabrics on the walls. The room doors are thick and heavy; they create an environment which is acoustically insulated and absolutely private, while providing a view of the garden that’s accompanied by a silence which is almost unreal in Milan’s city centre.
All the rooms are organised in a logical sequence of spaces, from the perfectly proportioned entrance to the most intimate areas of the bathroom looking onto the garden. Here, the pale colour of bleached oak prevails while the lighter hues of natural fabric provides warmth. The mood-lit bathroom, dominated by a black granite bathtub, and the warm colour of the Navona travertine stone of the basin and shower, is a striking contrast to the fair paleness of the bedroom.
Located on the hotel’s top floor, the Bulgari suite is a quiet haven – expansive, yet private. An almost three-meter deep gallery protects a completely transparent façade and creates an open space on the garden with a spectacular view of the town. The idea of an urban villa is strengthened by the use of teak flooring which, continuing in the gallery, blends the interiors and the al fresco spaces. The sitting room is dominated by a monumental Brera stone fireplace, while the bathroom, with its bathtub cut from a single block of Turkish Bihara stone, recalls the open bathrooms in oriental resorts.
Careful design has been applied to every single detail of the Bulgari Hotel Milan. It is an example of complete, immersive design, in which every single element has been expressly studied and implemented: from the door handles to the whole façade, from every single piece of furniture to desk accessories, from the architecture to glasses and fabrics. The result is an extraordinarily consistent design that makes this environment precise and coherent. All that you can see or touch is part of a unified concept that is based on absolutely precise technical details, so that the form and substance of the service perfectly integrates into a more general attitude of absolute, integral and uncompromising quality.
The project for redeveloping the garden of the Bulgari Hotel offered an opportunity to rediscover one of the few historical gardens in Milan.
The garden used to be the vegetable garden of a monastery. Over the years, it was divided into small plots, before it became a welcoming and worldly garden sitting room in the 19th century, a period which was followed by its inexorable decline into botanical wildness.
During the restoration project, the Milanese-Lombardy character of the garden and its setting were underlined. The goal was to evoke, in a contemporary way, the great number of gardens of historical villas that have strongly contributed to the design of the local landscape.
Hence, the choice of trees and shrubs which are typical of such historical parks and gardens – some of which were already present in the Bulgari Hotel’s garden. These have been arranged so as to create a succession of open-air rooms following a single unifying plan.
In front of the restaurant are four slight terracing areas: three of these are planted with grass and follow the original curves of the land. The first, a teak sitting area, features twenty-five tree-shaped laurels planted in large pots. The second has a lawn shadowed by pre-existing ancient horse-chestnuts. The third offers five “sitting rooms” under the shadow of umbrella-shaped plane trees with white wisteria climbing around their trunks. The fourth consists of shrubs of camellias alongside magnolias and cornus. All these varieties are characterised by particularly beautiful spring blossoms and autumn colours.
The journey through the garden ends at the private Dom Perignon Bar, itself surrounded by a tall red beech hedge. A path winds through a clump of hydrangeas between annual and perennial blossoms under three weeping willows.
The search for excellence that characterizes the Bulgari Hotel Milan is the inspirational motive for the cuisine created by the chef Roberto Di Pinto. He finds the luxurious but informal environment of the restaurant an ideal stage for his work where the basic elements of superior quality, refined techniques and creativity, coupled with the freshest and most seasonal produce, are the fundamental ingredients of his cuisine.
Born and raised in Naples, Roberto’s intuitive cooking reflects the historical connections of his city with Mediterranean cuisine. His menu is the point of convergence between a strong, Neapolitan culinary identity and the desire to project family recipes and traditional flavours into the future.
Italian tradition, based on strong flavours and on the consistency of the dishes, inspires the Bulgari Hotel Restaurant to offer a contemporary twist to classics dishes. The menu is characterized by a dichotomy of harmonious yet contrasting elements and by a constant aesthetic search for colours and volumes. Different tastes, linked to the different moments of the day, to the climate and to the season, are articulated in fresh, light, promptly served lunches, while dinners provide opportunities for more elaborate dishes. Meals are available either at the tables set with handmade dishes and Bulgari flatware, or more casually at the Bar – both of which overlook the beautiful garden.
Breakfast includes a variety of choices: from the sumptuous Bulgari breakfast with a selection of juices and jams, eggs with caviar, Champagne and lobster, to very fresh Mediterranean breakfast based on olive oil, tomatoes and fresh fruit.
The appetizers and cocktails, inspired by classical Italian tastes and colours, are whimsical and diverse with interesting additions, such as a selection of pre-Prohibition cocktails.
The choice of wine, many of which come by the glass, are chosen from Italian regions, many of which include small but very interesting wineries. A cultivated selection of champagne and sparkling wines and fine spirits from some elite labels like rum from Saint James from Antilles, dated 1885 completes the offerings.
The newly renovated Spa at the Bulgari Hotel has been conceived as an urban shelter for the mind and the soul. The new spaces include a private couples suite with mosaic steam shower, a marble steam room and Swedish sauna scented with eucalyptus essence, and an external Jacuzzi. There are three exclusive product lines: La Mer with its legendary Miracle Broth, Amala 100% NATRUE certified, and the Sothy’s gentlemen’s studio.
The renovation has enhanced the spa’s original elegant architecture to offer a unique setting that gently facilitates guests’ harmonious equilibrium. At the same time, its contemporary design creates a fascinating counterpoint to the ancient philosophies of wellbeing that underlies the modern treatments.
With the explicit goal of slowing down the hectic rhythm of the city, and to create pleasant moments of wellbeing and relaxation, the Bulgari Spa’s specialists have created exclusive treatments and products with pure and completely natural ingredients such as essential oils and plant extracts.
Among the highlights are La Mer’s exclusive new and luxurious treatment, the Crème de la Crème Facial. A bespoke facial created by esthetician to the stars, Joanna Czech, this treatment transforms the face and décolletage by softening and preparing the skin with a pure concentration of the Miracle Broth – the priceless extract coveted around the world and offered exclusively in this spa experience. Customised techniques target vulnerable areas to help restore skin’s energy to emerge resilient, restored and visibly renewed.