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The Four Seasons, Milan
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The Independent Travel

In Milan, the most fashionable city in the world, everything from your sunglasses to your nail varnish is an indicator of how acceptable you are to the fashion mafia. Just as, in certain circles, it is social death to be seen wearing Gucci (Milan is the home of arch rivals Prada), one's choice of hotel is of the utmost importance. If you're in the city for the shows, there is only one hotel to stay at: the Four Seasons.

In Milan, the most fashionable city in the world, everything from your sunglasses to your nail varnish is an indicator of how acceptable you are to the fashion mafia. Just as, in certain circles, it is social death to be seen wearing Gucci (Milan is the home of arch rivals Prada), one's choice of hotel is of the utmost importance. If you're in the city for the shows, there is only one hotel to stay at: the Four Seasons.

In a place that prides itself so much on art and aesthetics, it seems odd that a chain hotel should carry such an accolade, until you arrive at the place and realise it is no concrete-and-glass creation, but a relatively compact 15th-century former monastery, converted with grace.

I walked in looking for Claudia, Naomi, Donatella and Giorgio. Instead, there were numerous wealthy banking types, but they were sitting in such a lobby - interlinking stone archways, marble pillars vanishing into nooks - it was almost possible to ignore them.

Aside from the white marble, everything was shaded in hues of ochre and siena, which along with the cool stone walls gives the 600-year-old building a restful, cloistered air. The tranquillity was enhanced by the monastery's garden, around which most of the rooms are based.

The Four Seasons being famed for its gastronomy, I went off to explore the "oenophile's delight" wine list and food at Il Teatro, the hotel's restaurant. I fear the only delight was enjoyed by my credit card company, which billed me £60 for a merely decent grilled lamb and a bottle of local Barbaresco (which cost £40 instead of the £8.99 I pay in Camden Town).

Location, location, location

The Hotel Four Seasons is at Via Gesu 8, Milan, Italy (00 39 02 7708 5004, www.fourseasons.com/milan). Time to international Airport: the express bus from Linate airport and the train from Milan Malpensa airport take 30 and 40 minutes to arrive at their respective termini, each a 10-minute taxi ride from the hotel.

Are you lying comfortably?

My room was spectacular. The bed was in a stone alcove and beneath a domed, mosaic ceiling in different shades of blue, brown and green. The off-white sheets, bed covers and curtains were of a such quality and freshness you wanted to steal them.

Freebies

A bowl of fruit with the most luscious grapes, a bottle of thinnish Chianti, and the curtains, which look lovely in my London flat (only kidding).

Staying in touch

High-speed internet access, two-line telephones, fax machines at reception.

The bottom line

Rooms start at L1,000,000 (£295) including breakfast and taxes.

I'm not paying that

Be fashionably mean and stay at the Hotel London (00 39 02 720 20166), which offers rooms from £50 a night.

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