Looking around the stylish lobby of NH Collection Milano President, I would argue that it’s hard to put one’s finger on the essence of Milan. At once a city of fine art, classic architecture and historical monuments aplenty, it’s also the vibrant centre of industrial and financial activity in modern Italy. It is also a city synonymous with luxury. Once a year, the style luminaries descend for Milan Fashion Week (actually, they rock up again for the Milan Furniture Fair) and has countless high end hotels and Michelin stars within the metropolitan area. My personal preference, in a city so brimming with excitement, is to find somewhere to stay centrally for easy access to all the sights and activities on offer. We’ve loved NH Collection hotels in Murano, Medellin and Valencia, and we think that in Milan you would be pushed to beat the NH Collection Milano President.
Located a five minute walk from the iconic Duomo of Milan,
the NH Collection Milano President has 274 rooms, around 85% of which have balconies
and many of which have a view of the spectacular Gothic spires of the Duomo itself.
It, is however, strikingly modern. The façade, which seems unremarkable, hides
a vibrant lobby and lounge area, decorated with the modern artworks of local
artists (they are on sale, if you wish to take a piece of Milan home with you).
The whole interior has been renovated in stages over the last twenty years and
there is a sort of understated eclecticism about the understated lobby and bar punctuated
by striking and unusual pieces (on this occasion, there are ceramic lego-men on
display, uniquely decorated with the famous logos of the world’s greatest fashion
houses, as well as painted pop art interpretations of style magazine covers). The
NH Collection Milano President boasts seven meeting rooms, food and beverage options (more on that
later), a fitness centre and a penthouse Duomo Suite with unbeatable wow factor
if you’re planning a special occasion…
Our suite, directly beneath the Duomo Suite, was certainly nothing to be ashamed about. A hallway with ample storage options led to a large bedroom on one side and an even larger separate lounge on the other. Both, obviously, had stunning views of the Duomo from inside, as well as balcony areas that were simply bathed with sunlight in the late afternoon. In fact, the double aspect lounge was so bright that we were amazed our delicious chocolate welcome gift, complete with stencilled outline of the Duomo, hadn’t melted away! The décor was similar to the lobby, although with a different colour palette, and there were parquet floors throughout, all of which gave a more relaxed and homely feeling to the room while retaining the considered approach to the design. The bathroom was also of a good enough size that we two women getting ready for dinner didn’t feel as though we were getting in each others’ way. Rain showers, flat screens and signature NH Sleep Better mattresses are standard in all the rooms of the hotel, which we were able to test out when the connecting twin room also became free and we were able to use both!
We were joined at Le Colonne bar adjacent to the lobby by the lovely Sabrina, the Deputy Manager of the hotel, who gave us some excellent recommendations for local and unusual things to see, including the church of San Bernardino alle Ossa, a small church with decorative ossuary just across the road. She also introduced us to Nelly, the amazing bartender who served us amazing gin and tonics, as well as some freshly prepared aperitivo snacks – much better than the standard nuts and olives that you get at some other bars! The gin is actually exclusive to NH Collection Milano President; it contains five types of pepper, cardamom, grapefruit and some other ingredients I won’t let you in on… Named Verzee, which is the Milanese word for the fruit and vegetable street market which once stood near the hotel, it’s spicy, zesty and a perfect way to begin a long evening of dining.
The main restaurant at NH Collection Milano President is named Verziere, which is another reference to the area in which the local market once stood. It serves typical Milanese dishes, as well as cuisine from the rest of Italy and beyond. Due to the Easter holiday, we were unable to eat at the restaurant itself but were served a menu of typical Milanese cuisine in the second restaurant, Panhini, where Alfonso, our waiter, made every effort to ensure that we had a positive experience of the local cuisine. The meal began with an array of antipasti, including beef tartare with capers and burrata, Roman-style artichoke with pecorino cheese cream and ‘chupachups’ of salmon and potato – imagine savoury cake pops! This was served with a fine dry prosecco. The primi, or first course, was risotto Milanese or – to those who don’t know – a saffron risotto which is traditional to the area. The flavours were very well balanced and the saffron powerfully floral but delicious. The rice was, as one would expect, perfectly cooked with just the right amount of bite remaining.
The other showstopper of Milanese cuisine, the breaded veal cutlet, barely fitted on the plate it was served on, although fortunately this was due to the meat having been pummelled into the perfect thickness before it was coated with breadcrumbs. Also known as the ‘elephant’s ear’ (you will see why), the meat was succulent and the coating crispy: what more could you ask for? Finally, we were served an excellent tiramisu. It is my belief that tiramisu is the only option if you need to finish a meal with something sweet but you are already questioning whether you might have overindulged. Always lighter than you imagine, laced with bittersweet coffee flavour, it’s a dessert I always have room for! Alfonso also helped us select an amaro or two to try (Lucano was the favourite today!) and we were also gifted some risotto rice and the restaurant’s own recipe so that we can go on creating that culinary gold at home.
Breakfast is also served at Panhini; overseen by the charming Emanuele who was on had to check in and make sure we were being totally spoilt. The breakfast is a hot and cold buffet, but as regulars to Italy will know it’s all about the pastries and there were a wide range of sweet and savoury options to prepare a hungry woman for a day of sightseeing. There is also a themed monthly ‘corner’ with a focus on particular produce or a celebration of a special occasion. This month was strawberries and there were jams, chocolates, muffins and more! Surprisingly, Italy is very good at catering for the gluten intolerant (although of course coeliacs should let the hotel know ahead of time) and there were several options made without wheat.
The NH Collection Milano President is a perfect expression of Milan, a hotel that combines the traditional and the modern, as well as adding its own creative twist to every aspect of the hospitality you will experience there. If you are looking for a base to let you explore this fascinating city, this hotel is perfectly located and designed to show you as much of the city, its culture and traditions as you have time to see. There will always be more to explore though – you might have to come back again…?
NH Collection Milano President
Largo Augusto, 10