An Insider’s Guide To Milan

Marta Caffarelli and Viola Naj Oleari founded jewellery brand Atelier VM in Milan. From luxe hotels to cool shops and traditional restaurants, here are the places they go back to time and again in their hometown.
By Sherri Andrew /
Mandarin Oriental Milan

HOTELS

Mandarin Oriental Milan

This hotel oozes luxury. It has a wonderful spa that can be reserved for you – we like to relax in the sauna before indulging in a scrub with a coarse salt massage. You can even choose your own personalised scented oil. The hotel itself is chic and – in parts – minimalist, like the white bedrooms with soft accents of purple and light grey, and lots of natural light. 

Visit MandarinOriental.com

Hotel Palazzo Parigi

This hotel is in downtown Milan, just a few minutes from the cathedral and main shopping areas. If you don’t stay, drop by at aperitivo hour to enjoy some nibbles and drinks. It has a great atmosphere, especially at the bar, and we love the décor – think classic furnishings in neutral colours, lots of marble and high ceilings. Look out for contemporary details like the cool fabrics, carpets and wallpaper. 

Visit PalazzoParigi.com

Maison Borella

A more affordable choice, Maison Borella is cosy and comfortable. Full of charm, it’s just a few steps from Vicolo dei Lavandai right along the Darsena del Naviglio river – one of the liveliest areas in Milan. Bedrooms make you feel at home thanks to warm interiors, and each living quarter is separated by simple railings in typical Milanese design. Outside, you can stroll along the city’s canals and stop for an aperitivo in one of the many bars overlooking the water. 

Visit HotelMaisonBorella.com

Mandarin Oriental Milan

Bulgari Hotel Milano

If you want to go all out, book a room at this opulent hotel. Rooms are illuminated by large windows which overlook the lush, well-kept garden. Décor is modern and warm thanks to wood accents and furniture that contrasts with the black steel profiles of the structure. There’s also a great restaurant and spa.

Visit BulgariHotels.com

MAISON BORELLA is cosy and comfortable. It’s just a few steps from VICOLO DEI LAVANDAI right along the DARSENA DEL NAVIGLIO river – one of the liveliest areas in Milan.

RESTAURANTS, CAFÉS & BARS

Il Pescatore

This fish restaurant is loved by locals for its simple, traditional food, all of which is made from quality ingredients. The food and drinks are both excellent, especially its catalana – a baked custard dish which always hits the spot. There’s a great wine list, too.

Visit TrattoriaDelPescatore.it

Hotel Palazzo Parigi

La Brisa

This historic restaurant has beautiful décor and a fun atmosphere – you can spend a lovely evening enjoying typical Italian dishes. Eat inside or go out on the beautiful terrace, surrounded by foliage. Our favourite dishes include homemade spaghetti with alpine butter and the signature creamy chocolate dessert.

Visit RistoranteLaBrisa.it

MIXMI

Italian food can be quite rich, so we love the delicious, healthy meals here. Ideal for a casual lunch, Mixmi is in one of our favourite neighbourhoods – Brera. They use quality fruit and veg in each dish, and every meal is finished with coffee and a small piece of chocolate. We recommend the chicken curry with rice and veg.

Visit Mixmi.it

Lu Bar

This has a fairytale-like atmosphere thanks to its opulent décor and romantic lighting. Set inside one of Milan’s royal villas, Lu Bar attracts an eclectic mix of cool people. You can try typical Sicilian food including arancini, spaghetti alla norma and cannoli.

Visit LuBar.it

Lu Bar

Pasticceria Cucchi

For a quick breakfast, pick up pastries and coffee from Pasticceria Cucchi on Corso Genova. It also serves hearty Italian breakfasts, lunch and aperitifs, all served by friendly waiters. We love the milk sandwiches stuffed with tuna. The ice-cream is delicious, as are the desserts – especially the apple puff pastries.

Visit PasticceriaCucchi.it

Vineria Eretica

This wine bar has a fantastic selection of sparkling and natural wines, served with delicate side dishes. On a quiet street in the Porta Venezia area, you can stop by for a few drinks and ask the owner to recommend their favourites. We always order the baccalà mantecato meatballs on homemade croutons. 

Follow @VineriaEretica

The Bar At Ralph Lauren

Sit in the dining room or garden to soak up the chic atmosphere at Ralph Lauren’s bar. Here, the food is something to get excited about – delicious tiny burgers and fries are served away from prying eyes on fine silverware. It feels intimate and exclusive, and the waiters never let your glass go empty! White wine with ice is our go-to drink.

Visit RalphLauren.it 

Maison Borella
The Bar At Ralph Lauren
For a QUICK BREAKFAST, pick up pastries and coffee from PASTICCERIA CUCCHI on Corso Genova. It also serves hearty Italian breakfasts, lunch and aperitifs.

SHOPS

Wait And See

This colourful store sells eclectic fashion and accessories. It’s full of eccentric clothes, colourful swimwear and small items that make great souvenirs. 

Visit WaitAndSee.it

Profumeria Mazzolari

This perfumery is in San Babila, a quiet area known for its beautiful churches. Spread across two floors, shoppers can try a range of perfumes and make-up from niche brands you won’t find elsewhere in the city. 

Visit Mazzolari.info

Profumeria Mazzolari

Radisa Gallery

For unique homeware and furniture, check out Radisa Gallery. It stocks an extensive collection of old and contemporary crockery, glassware and silverware at competitive prices. The buyers have excellent taste and there’s always something cool on the shelves.

Visit RobertoRadisa.com

Verso Books

This bookstore is at the base of the historic columns in San Lorenzo. It has new and old books spanning every genre, many of which have been chosen by Italian authors. There’s even a small bar inside for aperitifs. 

Visit VersoBooks.com

Sempione Park
Fondazione Prada

THINGS TO SEE & DO

Fondazione Prada

This gallery is one of the best in the city. Visitors can see a range of contemporary art in the impressive building which has a glass tower, golden concrete tower and a cool bar. Hang out in the garden when it’s sunny.

Visit FondazionePrada.org

Sempione Park

Stroll around the beautiful Sempione Park and stop for lunch at Cascina Nascosta, a beautiful restaurant in the middle of the park. Expect tasty dishes made from organic produce, good wine and beautiful views.

The Brera Art Gallery

To us, this is a magical place. The gallery is full of modern and classical art, but the thing that makes it most fascinating is the architecture. It's a perfect place for art-loving people who want to reconnect with their creative side and seek inspiration.  

Visit PinacotecaBrera.org

Lake Como 

For an easy day trip, Lake Como is a short train ride away. Visit the Old Town and walk along the stunning lake. Book lunch or dinner at Cernobbio and drinks at Harry’s Bar in the little square by the lake.

The Triennale

This museum is always full of interesting people. Set in a colourful building, it does fascinating exhibitions about space, art and history. You can also stop by for events to chat to others about the art. 

Visit Triennale.org

Visit AtelierVM.com and follow @Atelier_VM

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