Home World Travel Milano’s NH Hotels

Milano’s NH Hotels

By Richard Carroll

Photography: Halina Kubalski

Milano, one of Europe’s celebrated destinations with fashion, architecture, and fine dining at the forefront, and conceivably one of the world’s distinguished twofold travel destinations with Lake Como a short 40-mile jaunt, is blessed with 13 NH hotels, one in the town of Lecco in Lake Como, and all positioned in unsurpassed settings. Spanish owned, small to mid-sized boutique properties, tabbed as four-star, we booked three Milano NH hotels for convenience of locality while on a fashion assignment in Milano, and in a way in which to become acquainted and connect with Milano neighborhoods on foot and possibly enjoy some jazz and dancing.

Duomo, Milano’s Cathedral dates to 1386 and is the largest church in Italy.

We found the NH recommendations from respected and veteran media travelers were incredibly accurate. The hard-working NH staff were hospitable and impressive, and it seemed that the hotel’s employees shared the same deep veneration for a city layered with fashion, history, and Italian personality. For us, the well-managed properties were just the acceptable size for employee to visitor interaction with small being a limitless and notable asset within the world of hotel hospitality.

NH CityLife with185 guest rooms, was constructed on the site of a 1930’s church.
The expansive CityLife hotel’s lobby using much of the original church building.

Not renowned in the United States, the NH Collection has an exceptional profile in Europe, and Latin America, opening their first property in Pamplona in 1978, and expanding, became one of Spain’s first and foremost hotel chains with more than 350 city hotels. We booked three nights at three NH hotels, the first NH Collection CityLife, a mid-sized property with 185 guest rooms, opened June 4, 2022, on the site of the 1930’s Chiesta Cristo Re church, deconsecrated in 2017. With white columns spiraling skyward guarding an elaborate entrance, first impressions were that of an estate. Ingeniously, the hotel retained much of the ecclesiastical building, as well as the grand entry, the lobby section of the church, and the original wooden doors and arches. The property is carefully designed in the Italian neo-Mannerist style, located in the futuristic and chic CityLife district with several high-end shopping centers, restaurants, steps from the Portello Pavilion, and 100 meters from a metro station.

Hotel Lecco Ponteveccho. Executive Chef Vincenzo di Bella is ranked among Lake Como’s top chefs. Smiling, he said, “Italian cuisine is a great way to understand the culture of our country, and I do enjoy cooking for international guests.”

Straightaway guests appreciate they are visiting one of Europe’s foremost fashion destinations with large framed black and white fashion images of stunning Italian ladies embellishing the hotel’s public spaces that send an artistic welcome to Milano. Our room, 1012, was comfortable and clean, housekeeping being of upmost importance. The linens were high quality, pillows with hypoallergenic synthetic feathers to avert allergies, free Wi-Fi, coffee maker, floor to ceiling windows, and a large television screen. For warm days CityLife has a rooftop swimming pool, a private garden, meeting rooms, and a gym we failed to experience.

The elaborate morning buffet offered a huge touch of hospitality with smiling servers passing by with additional offerings. Later the room converts to Taylor’s restaurant where Executive Chef Gabriele Grisolia creates Italian and Mediterranean cuisine, and selections passed down from his grandparents. A long-time employee, his kitchen suggestions were integrated into the original blueprints. Smiling, he said, “We have a very modern kitchen, and I do love to cook, and at home too. When I’m in the kitchen and examine fresh vegetables and fruit my heart is with my creative thoughts.” A huge block of honey in the breakfast buffet is likewise creative. Grisolia smiling, “It came straight from a local farm and is the tastiest hotel honey in the city.”

CityLife has large photos of Italian fashion models throughout their public spaces.
CityLife’s Executive Chef, Gabriele Grisolia, learned to cook watching and helping his grandmother. Fresh honey straight from the farm is a highlight as is his tailor-made pasta.

General Manager, Riccardo Bombaci interjected, “We work hard to address the visitors concerns. I believe we are a fresh diamond in a city full of diamonds.”
Moving to NH’s Collection Porta Nuova, hosting all of 100 guests, we were within a 20-minute walk to the fashion district, and less than a mile from Brera, an elegant and distinctive neighborhood with cobble-stoned streets leading to art galleries, antique shops, trendy boutiques, clubs and restaurants, and the Academy of Fine Arts dating to 1776. The hotel, elegant and stylish, has an intimate and embracing ambience with an attractive lobby, small stylish cocktail bar, and well-equipped gym. Our room came with robes and slippers and was sparkling clean. With floor to ceiling windows the breakfast buffet stretched the entire length of the room, freshly baked bread, tasty croissants, and local specialties, all tickling the senses. Speaking with General Manager, Baldassare Schembri, 17 years with NH, he said, “I feel we have a tailor-made experience. We’re small and can bond directly with the guests. Travel can be challenging, and we want our guests to find a home here. We’re in the financial district and host everyone from business executives to newlyweds.”

Walking the area, we discovered directly across the street from Port Nuova the NH Palazzo Moscova, opened in 2015 with 65 unique guest rooms. Adjacent to the lobby is Forti, noted among the best seafood restaurants in the city with a 3,000-bottle wine cellar. Around the corner is Sciatt a Porter, a small family-owned restaurant and a real gem. They source their produce from local farmers with original Milanese offerings, home-cooked style.

The large breakfast buffet in CityLife is fresh and tasty.
The attractive boutique NH Porta Nuova hosting 100 guests, is a 20-minute walk to the Fashion District, and a splendid location for exploring Milano’s neighborhoods.
Attractive GM Alessandra Giovanniello, NH Lecco Ponteveccho, Lake Como, said “Our hotel has 111 rooms, and we do look after the guests. Lecco is a wonderful location for them to see the city and Lake Como.”

After six full working days in Milano, we hopped on a 40-minute train ride to Lecco in Lake Como and the 111 guest NH Lecco Pontevecchio Hotel. The hotel and Lecco are a dynamic duo. Managed by personable Alessandra Giovanniello, the hotel is set in the heart of the city, which seemed more like a friendly town to us, tucked between the towering Grigna and Resegono mountains and the Adda River, laced with cycling, hiking, and jogging paths. Lecco, removed from the Lake Como tourist trail has family-owned boutiques, superior dining, and the opportunity to mingle with the residents of Lake Como, yet close to nature and the Lake’s main attractions.

From our balcony in room 308 we had a splendid view of a 1338 Roman Bridge and the Adda River, and appropriately the hotel has a bike room for cyclists, a gym and ironing room. Executive Chef Vincenzo di Bella, 58, is another NH and Lecco highpoint. President of the Federazione Italiana Cuochi, and cooking since age 14, he has a great passion for Sicilian cuisine and designed the hotel’s menu with Sicilian delights. The hotel has a late checkout before 3 p.m. on Sundays but departing Lecco and Lake Como is difficult indeed.

When You Go

NH Hotels are 100 percent non-smoking, free Wi-Fi, dogs and cats allowed. Visitors should allow at least four full days to fully enjoy Milano’s hidden pleasures, and Lake Como is forever. www.nh-hotels.com. Recommended guide, Alessandra Dell Andrea, ww************@am**************.com; For a personal itinerary for Milano and Lake Como, Travel Consultant and Itinerary Designer, Celia Abernethy. ce***@mi*********.com

We didn’t dance or hear any jazz but did enjoy two of Italy’s most vibrant destinations.

NH Palazzo Moscova designed with 65 unique guest rooms, is directly across the street from the NH Porta Nuova. Palazzo Moscova’s lobby opens to Forti one of Milano’s celebrated sea food restaurants.
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