I fell in love with Excelsior Hotel Gallia from the moment I walked through its doors. Literally. I was visiting during its very soft opening, and while I was walking through the lobby, I noticed this amazing orange blossom smell. While I was heading up to my room in the elevator, I casually turned to the gentleman next to me and asked if he noticed the smell. The gentleman was amused and asked me why. I told him the scent made me fall even more in love with this beautiful monument to Italian art deco and I felt a little bit Gatsby in his palatial West Egg manse. Turns out I was talking to Marco Piva, the architect who tore apart and designed the entire hotel from floor to ceiling. That was 2015 and I wrote about my Gatsby love for Gallia in Fathom. This time, Forbes Travel, October 2018 asked me to find out five more reasons why I love it.
Milan is one of those cities that takes time to love, and when it finally happens, you fall hard — whether for its fabulous fashion, awe-inspiring architecture or renegade restaurant scene.
For a love-at-first-sight experience, book a stay at Excelsior Hotel Gallia, A Luxury Collection Hotel. This Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star grand dame boasts style, grace and a primo location in the trendy Porta Nuova neighborhood. Here are five more reasons why we can’t get enough of this art deco beauty.
On the seventh floor is Terrazza Gallia, the hotel’s signature rooftop restaurant and bar. Step out onto its panoramic terrace to savor unobstructed views of Piazza Duca D’Aosta and Milano Centrale, the city’s main train terminal and a beautiful example of 1930s architecture.
There is nothing quite like gazing out at Europe’s largest rail station while enjoying clever cocktail concoctions from Gallia’s expert team of mixologists. Seasonal sips — In Black, a blend of Cynar, pumpkin-rhubarb liqueur, vermouth and angostura bitters soothes right now — are paired with delicious amuse-bouches conceived by the talented Lebano brothers, who also oversee the terrace restaurant.
The Katara Royal Suite
Tipping the scales with more than 10,000 square feet of opulence, this sumptuous space is the biggest and one of the most luxurious suites in Italy. The top-floor annex apartment boasts four bedrooms, two terraces, a private spa and its own conference room.
Lavish decorations include Murano glass chandeliers and custom-designed pieces from architect Marco Piva, but don’t let its good looks fool you — this over-the-top-accommodation is all about privacy for its high-profile guests. The Katara Royal Suite has its own diplomatic entrance, 24-hour butler service and bulletproof windows, just in case.
Taking over part of Excelsior Hotel Gallia’s sixth and seventh floors is Shiseido Spa Milan, the first facility from the renowned Japanese brand in Italy. A blend of traditional and edgy materials (see: light wood, glass, metal and marble) combine to create a meditative and modern design.
An expansive glass skylight creates a natural atmosphere in the indoor swimming pool and lounge area — bonus points for the Himalayan pink salt room and high-tech gym.
But the coveted Shiseido treatments steal the spotlight here. Milan’s fashionable elite knows to book well in advance to indulge in services such as the Ultimate Radiance Facial or the two-hour Kuroho Body Massage Bliss.
The Golf Simulator
You may get lost in the meditative sway of the spa, but take a second for some swings on the Golf Simulator, a virtual-reality experience dedicated to upgrading your skills on the green. Carpet sensors assess power and trajectory, while a high-def screen instantaneously broadcasts results — consider it a techy alternative to lugging around your clubs.
The Italian Sunday Lunch
Rounding out the list is La Domenica Italiana, Excelsior Hotel Gallia’s version of Sunday brunch. Make a reservation at Terrazza Gallia to dine on savory lunch items designed to be shared family-style.
Expect a wide selection of classic dishes that celebrate Milanese tradition, like risotto allo zafferano (saffron rice), milanese mondeghili (a unique-to-Milan meatball dish) and ragù di osso buco (veal meat sauce), alongside an array of omelets, cheeses, charcuterie and salads.