© Diego De Pol
Many hotels claim to be situated at the crossroads of culture, fashion and design, but the five-star Carlton Hotel Baglioni in Milan literally is. Overlooking Via della Spiga, a cannoli’s throw from some of the world’s chicest boutiques and must-see design destinations, such as Nina Yashar’s agenda-setting Nilufar Gallery (Via della Spiga, 32; 39-02/780-193; nilufar.com), not to mention the Duomo and Teatro alla Scala, the Carlton could not be better oriented.
But it’s not just the hotel’s prestigious location that makes it an important cultural hub. The 87-room gem, which was recently refurbished by the Milanese studio Rebosio+Spagnulo, houses a series of rotating exhibits, showcasing the works of Italian design legends like Ettore Sottsass and Achille Castiglioni alongside those of emerging talents such as Chiara Andreatti.
The convergence of hospitality and design is driven by Guido Polito, the chief executive of Baglioni Hotels, who, along with Vincenzo Basile of Basile Artico, curates the exhibits at the Carlton’s Caffè Baglioni (pictured above), as well as other cultural projects that the hotel group backs (for example, a recent art show in the new Roman Penthouse of the Regina Hotel Baglioni in the Eternal City).
“The whole concept behind Baglioni is to give our clients a full Italian experience,” Polito explains. “The idea of transforming the bar into a gallery comes from this. We want our guests to enjoy a drink while experiencing the best that Milan can offer, including beautiful artworks and design objects, some of which are rarely seen prototypes or pieces from museums or private collections.”
The commitment to spotlighting local talent is also evident at Amaranto, the quaint boutique overlooking the hotel’s ground-floor garden, which happens to be the brainchild of Polito’s wife, Maddalena Grassi Polito.
“All luxury travelers have Chanel, Hermès and Armani in their wardrobe,” she says. “So the idea with Amaranto is to offer something very Italian and unique so that a lady can go to a party and know that she is not going to see five other ladies in the same dress or the same bag.”
And for those who like a little rubbernecking with their culture, the hotel’s famed restaurant Il Baretto al Baglioni remains the place for the city’s elite to meet and eat. Rooms start at $395; Via Senato, 5; 39-02/77077; baglionihotels.com.