What's On travels to: Milan, Italy

A captivating city rich that’s with history and elegant charm…

Where to stay

Park Hyatt Milan

When it comes to luxury hotels, location matters. Usually, you’d find a high-end property right in the heart of the action, or out in a remote spot surrounded by nature. Park Hyatt Milan falls into the former category, an actual stone’s throw from the grand Duomo cathedral and Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, Italy’s oldest active shopping gallery. Embedded into the iconic Milano architecture, within a building that dates back to 1870, the hotel opened in 2003 and recently underwent a renovation, meaning that after two decades the beauty and sophistication of the property remain the ultimate focus.

While the entrance is subtly grand, inside is where Park Hyatt Milan makes its first statement. The lobby lounge, La Cupola, sits under a nine-meter-tall glass cupola, flooding the room with light. Echoing the spherical window is the curved seating area, where guests can enjoy breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as cocktails.

We stay in a King Deluxe which looks out onto the closely positioned building next door. But what it lacks in views, it makes up for in interiors. We could happily move into the spacious marble-clad bathroom which oozes pure luxurious finishings. The bedroom is equally decent-sized, with a small dining area next to the large, comfortable bed. The colour palette throughout the hotel is warm and inviting, taking in natural light wherever possible.

Breakfast is a treat for the senses, with a mix of both buffet and a la carte dishes. Everything is executed to the highest standard, to suit the mostly business travel clientele in-house during our stay.


Hyatt Centric Milan Centrale

Catering to easy-going business travellers or explorers with style, Hyatt Centric offers contemporary living in the heart of the city. A short walk from the metro station, the cool, colourful lobby is adorned with graffiti murals and bright furniture. The rooms are a little more subdued, with brown leather quilted headboards, sophisticated grey furniture and large windows overlooking the city. Downstairs boasts a spacious co-working space, with a large, shared desk and cosy reading nooks to chill out in. Hyatt Centric’s rooftop bar, Sky Garden, was closed on our visit, but is opening this month for the summer season. Elsewhere, guests can enjoy dinner at Rivington Cucina New York, the hotel’s upmarket Italian American restaurant inspired by the allure of Manhattan. The space is dark and atmospheric, with white clothed tables and luxurious red leather seating. Whether starting your night with cocktails, or spending the evening sampling the menu, it’s sure to tick all the boxes.


Where to eat

All’antico Vinaio

There aren’t many places we’d queue for 45 minutes in sub-10-degree temperatures for, and yet we soon find ourselves on the pavement outside All’antico Vinaio, wondering if this hyped sandwich shop, with outposts in New York and LA, will live up to its reputation. Inside, the tightly packed counter displays a wide selection of sandwich fillings, including fresh and high-quality meats, cheeses and vegetables. High energy staff dance around each other moving in an effortless production line like the trained professionals they are. Our sandwich sets us back 10 Euros (approx. Dhs40) and we’re swiftly ushered outside to eat it so more people can fit inside. The sandwich is a classic focaccia, crisp and crunchy on the outside, light and bubbly inside, and thin enough to ensure the filling to bread ratio is just right. We’ve gone for sliced honey roast ham, Emmental, pesto, and sundried tomatoes. It’s simple, sure, but the result of using only the best ingredients casts no doubt in our mind about whether it was worth the long wait.


Maccheroni – Cucina Italiana

Photo by Stefano Capra

In the Risorgimento area is a restaurant famed for one signature dish, and we walked from one side of the city to the other just to try it for ourselves. Here, the humble carbonara is served in silver pan alongside a complimentary glass of Prosecco and a warm smile. The homemade pasta comes as large al dente rigatoni tubes, ribbed at the edge to secure the most amount of cream. Chunky, juicy bacon pieces are served extra crispy on top, before being doused with Parmesan. Well-executed, if a little too on the salty side for our taste, for those looking for a traditional carbonara, don’t skip this spot.


The Dome Rooftop

For us, rooftop bars are a must on every new city visit. And in Milan, they don’t come chicer than The Dome. Perched atop the building famed for having a huge lit-up sign with letters that spell ‘Gucci’, guests are treated to views of Duomo from above. The space is beautifully boho, with rattan chairs, tasselled parasols and pretty pink foliage. Inside the greenery continues, cascading over cosy booths finished in brown leather and Aztec patterned cushions. Here, The Dome serves a range of dishes including Japanese wagyu sandwiches, glazed salmon, black cod, truffle pizza and saffron risotto.


Things to see and do

Shop in the world’s oldest mall

A trip to Milan simply isn’t complete without visiting Galleria Vittorio. Even if you’re not looking to shop (or window shop) the gallery itself is an incredible landmark and photo-op. Opened in 1877, it’s known as the oldest mall in the world, and is covered by a stunning arched glass roof. Some of the world’s most luxurious brands and boutiques have a home there, further adding to the overall aesthetic. Found close to Milan’s other main landmarks, Teatro alla Scala and Duomo di Milano, it’s easy for tourists to tick off all three attractions in one day. The area is also filled with top restaurants and bars, so you can enjoy a full day out without having to hop back on the metro.


Have an immersive spa experience

The viral TikTok that put this spa on the map showed the world exactly why this experience is a must-try in Milan. Not your average spa, QC Termemilano is a converted train station that offers a five-hour spa experience across a range of rooms and treatment options. There’s an outdoor jacuzzi, sauna train, sleep room, and the now-famous thunderstorm simulation pool. The video, posted by @acouplethingstodo showed a small plunge pool bubbling with water, meanwhile the surrounding elements create the simulation of a storm, complete with heavy rain falling from the roof, crashing sounds and flashes of light, while LED screens show clouds, lightning and auroras of colour. The full day (five-hour) experience is priced at €55 (approx. Dhs221) plus €20 (approx. Dhs80) for access to the buffet spread in the restaurant.


See the ancient canals

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The Naviglio Grande (Grand Canal) is one of Europe’s oldest navigable canals, dating way back to 1177. Milan was once traced with waterways similarly to Venice, allowing architects to send marble via boat to build the Duomo. In order to build Milan into the bustling city we know today, a network of canals had to be developed, which was carried out between the 12th and 17th centuries. Many became buried in concrete in the 20th century, as boats were replaced by cars and trains. However, you can still enjoy a piece of this unique history at Naviglio Grande. The area is filled with bustling cafés and restaurants, as well as local market stalls where shoppers can find unique vintage gems.

Header Image: Getty