In fashionable Milan, a new hotel comes dressed in (what else?) black.
Milan is where the fashion trade flocks, and LaGare Milano, which opened early last year, is a 141-room tower that caters to them, especially when it comes to their favorite color. Just about everything in the building, from the floors to the walls to the bedroom furniture, is covered in luxurious black. (Hey, it’s slimming.) There’s dim — or flattering — lighting inside, but on the outside, the building glows: Its windows are ringed with neon, an unmissable accessory.
Less than three blocks from Milan’s Centrale train station, with a convenient and direct high-speed link to Malpensa airport, and a 5-minute drive from Garibaldi, another major train station, the hotel is in a garment-centric business district. The youthful night-life scene is a 20-minute cab ride away in the neighborhood of Navigli, but a few appealing cafes and restaurants are tucked in the blocks around LaGare. The Giardini Pubblici Indro Montanelli, Milan’s oldest public park, which includes a natural-history museum and a planetarium, is a pleasant 15-minute walk.
Our attractive but basic “superior” room on the ninth floor had dark wooden floors, a flat-screen TV, a sleek metal-topped desk and a tall headboard over the queen bed, covered in tufted black fabric. (Black bedspread, of course.) The floor-to-ceiling windows offered a city view, which, at night, was offset by the glare of the blue neon framing the windows outside; the only way to block it seemed to be to lower the white curtains, with a push-button, completely. Don’t expect to be awakened by sunlight here. More expensive suites feature Turkish hammams and private terraces.
A modern look with square fixtures and yet more neon — white this time, in piping around the mirror. The rain shower, with a detachable water brush, and the towel-warmer provided a bit of sumptuous comfort. Standard toiletries were available and, yes, even the soap was in black packaging.
Besides a parking garage, often a rarity in city hotels, LaGare has a full-size roof deck, with panoramic views of Milan’s elegant rooftops, and the Rooftop Bar to encourage lounging. The gym has the average assortment of equipment, but the real treat is the spa, with Roman and Turkish baths, a salt cave and a sauna. The entrance fee is 15 euros (about $17). Six meeting rooms, accommodating up to 200 people, are scattered through the hotel, with access to the patios. Service, including ordering cabs and accommodating our desire to be on an upper floor, was prompt and courteous, and Wi-Fi was free.
For the free breakfast, the Mediterranean-themed restaurant, tiled in black and named the Bistrot, had a Euro-standard spread of eggs, baked goods, cheese and yogurt. A room-service version of that arrived in less than the promised 15 minutes, but was uninspired, especially for the gastronomical paradise that is Italy. A lobby cafe, open only in the morning, serves mainly on-the-go business travelers. Both spaces, though, have spacious terraces, should you crave a break from all the noir.
The rarefied design crowd has many four- and five-star options, but for anyone in Milan on business, fashion or otherwise, LaGare Milano offers good value, easy-in and easy-out convenience and compelling terrace views.