Fashion and design weeks in Milan are the times when the city truly comes to life. The streets become the runways as the fashion elite descend upon the cobblestone roads and shuffle through the shows, looking nothing short of a Pinterest mood board. Here is our guide to enjoying the city like a fashion cognoscenti with Milanese flair.
WHERE TO STAY
Room Mate Giulia
A stone's throw away from the Duomo and Milan's famed living room, Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, this chic boutique hotel situated inside a historical building happily merges the contrasts of something vintage and something new. It was designed by Patricia Urquiola, and her flair for color and her signature furniture pieces make for a truly memorable and modern stay.
Address: Via Silvio Pellico 4, 20121, Milano
Situated in a uniquely central yet secluded location, the Bulgari Hotel Milano is a mecca for the high-fashion set. It is on a private street, serenely surrounded by gardens. Late afternoons here are for lazy aperitivos in their hotel garden, where spotting a fashion editor or two is quite likely.
Address: Via Privata Fratelli Gabba, 7b, 20121, Milano
The Yard Milano
This is a family boutique hotel in the heart of the night life of Milano; stepping inside is like crossing realms, and going into an old-fashioned English gentlemen's club. It is cozy and inviting, a welcome refuge from the busy streets. In the lounge, one can order from the bar, th Doping Club, where well-trained mixologists delightfully prepare your evening's poison.
Address: Piazza Ventiquattro Maggio 8, 20123, Milano
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK: CLASSIC ITALIAN SPECIALTIES
Ristorante Da Oscar
This little and extremely busy restaurant prepares one of the best spaghetti carbonara and risotto ai frutti di mare in town. Word for the wise, call in advance and book a table or be prepared to have dinner at 10 p.m.
Address: Via L. Palazzi 4, 20124, Milano
An unassuming restaurant in the quieter side of town dishes out one of the best Milanese specialties: cotoletta. This baseball-glove-sized veal cutlet is a local favorite, and they do it perfectly, with a generous serving of fresh pomodoro.
Address: Via Carlo Farini 8, 20154, Milano
A Santa Lucia Restaurant
The historic restaurant and the first pizzeria to open in Milan in 1929, is close to Piazza Duomo en route to San Babila. The restaurant first introduced Neopolitan-style cuisine in Milan, and has since had a following of locals and tourists alike. Enjoy their antipasti buffet and choose amongst their specialties with classic recipes that have made them a pioneer.
Address: Via S. Pietro All'Orto 3, 20121, Milano
Much like their location in Porta Nuova, Ratana embodies the future of Italian cuisine as their seasonal menu takes on modernizing Lombardy cuisine with their philosophy of slow food. When they are in season, try their local specialties, risotto Milanese and osso buco.
Address: Via Gaetano de Castillia 28, 20124, Milano
Carlo E Camilla
Located in an old sawmill, Michelin-starred chef Carlo Cracco's new concept features modern food with a changing menu every three months. The industrial space is a creative haven for an array of experimental cocktails, and the unexpected cuisine creates one truly unique communal dining experience.
Address: Via Giuseppe Meda 24, 20141, Milano
The Botanical Club
The first Italian small-batch gin distillery is one of the pioneers of the new wave of food in the city. More than just a watering hole, The Botanical Club has two restaurants and one cocktail bar around the city with each branch boasting a different seasonal menu.
Address: Via Pastrengo 11, 20159, Milano, via Tortona 33, 20144 Milano, via Salutati 17, 20144 Italy
The combination of pizza and cocktails has never been this chic. With its contemporary take on an Italian essential, it has modernized pizzas perfect for a cocktail bar with unashamed mixologists willing to experiment and play.
Address: Via Solferino 33, 20121, Milano
Popular for its small plates, this restaurant is popular among the locals for an easy dinner post-aperitivo. Enjoy your selection with a bottle of wine or match it with one of their specialty cocktails. Insider tip: snoop around and find the closet that leads you into their speakeasy.
Address: Via San Marco 29, 20121, Milano
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK: APERITIVO AND COCKTAILS
Snag a cabana by their pool-side bar and enjoy an aerial view of the city at night. The elegant atmosphere is best enjoyed with one of their cocktails, inspired by traditional American recipes with an Italian twist.
Address: Via Ceresio Z 20154, Milano
A cozy bar along the Da Vinci designed Navigli canals, Mag offers a unique list of cocktails to try, all of which are named after great characters in fiction. A browse through their menu feels like a catalogue of bedtime stories, but be warned, this bar gets busy as the night progresses.
Address: Ripa di Porta Ticinese 43, 20143, Milano
Ugo Cocktail Bar and Bistrot
Styled like an old English country home, this bar has walls lined with vintage bottles and photographs. It has an extensive cocktail list, and bar chow that is more posh than pub. Drink like a local and enjoy the nightlife of the canals.
Address: Via Corsico 12 20144, Milano
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK: APERITIVO AND BRUNCH
Off the beaten road, this hidden gem is a great find within the city. With funky interiors and sprawling space, it's a perfect hideaway for a happy hour or some weekend brunch.
Address: Via Giovenale Z 20136, Milano
A hipster joint in the much gentrified Chinatown, this place transitions through the day with their open-faced sandwiches served in Instagram-ready flat lays. Enjoy the evening with their very own beer brew, or enjoy the brunch menu on the weekends.
Address: Via Paolo Sarpi 8, 20154, Milano
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
The cultural extension of Prada, the new Milan venue was designed by architectural firm Oma, led by Rem Koolhaas. An old factory has been reimagined as a space for contemporary art to come to life. With exhibits on constant rotation, and curated to challenge present-day philosophies, it always merits an afternoon visit. After, enjoy a break at the famed Bar Luce, the cafe designed by director Wes Anderson. Tickets are also valid for the observatory inside Galleria Vittoria Emanuele II, above Prada Men's and Marchesi.
Address: Largo Isarco 2 20139, Milano
Pinacoteca Di Brera
A museum within Palazzo Brera, its well-curated collection gives you a journey through Italian masterpieces. Spend a couple of hours immersing in the museum's unique storytelling, before stepping outside to wander around the space. The venue also serves as a school, and a favored location of the fashion houses for their press and runway shows.
Address: Via Brera 28, 20121, Milano
The museum of Armani has a permanent archive collection of the history of the fashion house. Displayed in his signature moody minimalism, the runway and celebrity dresses tell the story of how a simple tailor emerged to become one of the most popular designers in contemporary times.
Address: Via Bergognone 40, 20144
Qc Terme Milano
Take a quick break in this oasis in the middle of the city. A refurbished Roman bath, the wellness center has several thermal baths for uninhibited relaxation. Unique to the spa is the historic tram that has been transformed into a sauna, as well as the salt chambers for detoxification. Sneak some naps in one of several nap pods scattered in different rooms, or indulge in a Turkish bath.
Address: Piazzale Medaglie D'Oro 2, 20135, Milano
WHERE TO SHOP
Located in a more discreet part of the high-fashion shopping street is a concept store of local fashion designers. It's a perfect place to find that one statement piece to get you through the season.
Address: Viale Regina Giovanna 1, 20129, Milano
If edgier and avant-garde are more your style, then this boutique close to Navigli is the place for you, with the latest drops from cult designers like Off-White, Vetements, and Rick Owens. There is no shortage of inspiration with the racks of investment pieces.
Address: Via Pasquale Paoli 1, 20143
This is a boutique with all the top brands under one roof. Walk out looking like a model from the pages of Vogue in items from the latest season. The store also receives exclusive pieces, so be sure to spot the limited designs in their windows.
Address: Via Cusani 5, 20121, Milano
Photographs by Camille Aguilar
This story originally ran in the September 2017 issue of Metro Society.