Tango Diva : Travel Stories for Women, by Women

by Katie Palmer

In luxury travel, it’s all about the details. Like the framed Giacomo Puccini sheet music framed on the wall, the turn-down service which provides a card with tomorrow’s weather forecast, and of course the immaculate attention to design. Hotel Principe di Savoia of Milan, Italy is spoiling me rotten.

The paneled walls and lavish Lombard decor are a nod to the rich history of the hotel. I walk in and gasp with excitement. Really, I did.

Hotel Principe di Savoia opened its doors in 1927 and was the first hotel in Milan to attract the upper-middle class who demanded only the best. Its fascinating history is deeply rooted in luxury, and that is still ever-present today.

The hotel has recently undergone a major renovation integrating modern-day technology such as wi-fi, renovation of the spa, gym, and swimming pool, and interactive televisions.

I spend my night listening to the complimentary music that plays throughout the entire suite, even the bathroom. I take a warm bubble bath while drinking champagne and let me tell you, this is not a normal occurrence in my life. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever done that. What can I say, this hotel brings out the princess in me.

I sleep in and make my way down to the included breakfast (wearing my pearls, because it just feels right) which is served until 11 a.m. I’m greeted by many buongiornos and smiles from the staff and walk into the ornately decorated Acanto Restaurant, where breakfast is served. There’s freshly squeezed strawberry, orange, and pineapple juice, fresh fruit, fresh scrambled eggs, bacon and so much more. This breakfast is so fresh — in every sense of the word. I sit down with a full plate and am immediately brought bread and imported butter from France as well as coffee. I even forget to grab a spoon for my yogurt, and one appears on my table. I continue to pretend to be a princess.

I think of the past guests who have stayed here: Charlie Chaplin, Nelson A. Rockefeller, Liza Minnelli, Audrey Hepburn, Juliette Greco, Jimmy Carter, Paul Anka, Jerry Lewis, Sylvester Stallone, Frank Sinatra, Sting, Eric Clapton, Martin Scorsese, Susan Sarandon. I’m sure in good company. My favorite fact that I almost squeal over when I hear, is that Sofia Coppola’s most recent movie, Somewhere was partly filmed in the Principe’s presidential suite. David Beckham even called the hotel home for six months while playing for AC Milano.

A few minutes in the lobby and I am witnessing cheek kisses, groups of women in designer clothes and sunglasses and men in suits fresh off the plane. It’s a mix of posh Europeans and people from all over the world with fine taste.

I am told that ever since it opened, Principe di Savoia has been the destination for the elite. At first it was mostly businessmen, but now they cater to all luxury-lovers — and a lot of solo females as well.

Since I am traveling alone, I am curious if they offer any extra safety precautions for women. I am informed that if they see a woman is traveling alone, they put her in the main building (there is an attached building where some of the rooms are accessible via a sky bridge) for extra security. In each room there is a hair dryer, access to irons and ironing boards, laundry services, and amenities galore that did wonders for my hair.

Beware, when they say luxury they mean luxury, and that is reflected in the price of everything. Internet costs 27 euros for 24 hours, a club sandwich from room service is 20-something euros. Be prepared to splurge.

I would recommend one of their packages, which include “Discover Milan,” “ Drive Your Dreams,” “Family Package,” “Shopping Experience,” “Romantic Package.”

The most popular are the “Family Package” and the “Discover Milan Package.” They bundle together the price of rooms with added bonuses, such as meals, free access to Milan museums, welcome gifts, and more. They are a fabulous way to make a stay at Principe di Savoia more affordable.

Before I check out, I have lunch in the Acanto Restaurant (where breakfast was served) which I will always remember as the place where I had the best pasta of my life (tortellini stuffed with spinach and drizzled in spinach cream sauce). Aside from the Acanto Restaurant, there is also Il Salotto which serves food as well as afternoon tea. And of course, there is the Principe Bar, decorated in Italian fabrics and hand-made velvet, mirror, and glass.

All of the furniture in Principe di Savoia is made in Italy, thus it is of the finest quality. From the chairs in the lobby, which are especially made for the Principe, to the drapes in the room; it’s all Italian.

This is largely thanks to the Dorchester Collection, which acquired the Principe in 2003. The group is known for retaining all of their properties’ unique history and culture. This is why the Principe is the essence of Milanese luxury.

As I walk out of the hotel carrying my luggage (something I wouldn’t dream of doing in the Principe) I look back at the grand exterior and remember the 24 hours I spent like royalty. Back to the metro with my luggage it is.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: