With its floors, frescos and Eiffel-esque steel and glass roof, the Galleria Vittorio Emmanuele is surely Europe's most glamorous shopping arcade. Linking two of Milan's most illustrious monuments, the Duomo and La Scala, the light-flooded mall makes a suitably spectacular location for the Townhouse Galleria.
The 24-suite hotel, which hopes to gain seven-star accreditation soon, styles itself as a home from home for the world's movers and shakers. A Bentley limousine chauffeurs guests around town. A-list whims are fulfilled by a white-gloved butler on 24-hour call: last-minute tickets for La Scala, bookings at the exclusive Gianfranco Ferré spa. You can even order bespoke shoes. Children are given a typically Italian welcome; as well as toys and games, there is a 24-hour nanny service.
Occasionally, they promise more than they can deliver: after compiling a questionnaire which ranged from my pillow preference to my favourite newspaper, it was disappointing when the latter, along with a requested guide book, failed to materialise. And the outdoor lift works in mysterious ways.
Sumptuous, floor-sweeping curtains in velvet and taffeta and antique furniture blend with trendy tables and chairs in coloured transparent plastics and a stunning, if slightly complicated, array of lighting. Perks include a free Wi-Fi laptop, a colour printer and fax and a Nespresso machine. Flat-screen TVs are de rigueur, as are super-fluffy towels and robes and sublime smellies.
The food and drink
Refreshments impress from the off, with a welcome pack of champagne, caviar, blinis and passion fruit. The standard is maintained in the Symphony restaurant, which is reserved to Townhouse guests. Here the head chef, Giacomo Gaspari, specialises in dishes that balance water, protein and carbohydrate. The result is simple, light cuisine with remarkable flavour. I ate gnocchi in tomato sauce followed by sea bass baked in paper.
The restaurant and two suites are suitable for wheelchair users. The butlers are happy to assist guests with disabilities.
Doubles from £610 per room per night. Breakfast costs £23.
Town House Galleria, Via Silvio Pellico 8, 20121 Milan (00 39 02 89 05 82 97; townhouse galleria.it).
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