Its centrally located position is not the only thing that makes it ‘fashionable’: style and exclusivity are also part of the Baglioni Hotel Carlton; a reference point for those who love the vibrant, exclusive glamour of downtown Milan.
Set at the crossroads of culture, fashion and design, the Baglioni Hotel Carlton is located in that part of the city where everything is ‘close at hand’, from the most exclusive shops to the most interesting museums; from the most picturesque ‘palazzi’ to the ‘must-see’ exhibitions of the moment. This elegant building ‘fringed’ by a green curtain of trees and blooming flowerbeds in via Senato boasts a view and a direct entrance onto via della Spiga (an interesting fact: in the past, the Naviglio – Milan’s canal – ran through via Senato, see photo). Currently Milan’s most elite street, in days gone by, via Senato was not occupied by stylish and luxurious showrooms, but by spinning mills, fed by a water mill that once stood where the Baglioni now stands).
However, it is not only its unique position that makes this luxurious hotel so special, but also its combination of Italian hospitality, exclusivity and experience, all elements that have characterized it since the very beginning, and which the Polito family, who have run the chain for more than forty years, have infused in all of their properties, giving them their exquisitely Italian style and refined, original details. “Everyone has passed through our doors,” says Lorenzo Soleri, who has been the general manager of this elegant hotel since the beginning of 2016. “From Jennifer Lopez to George Clooney, from Philippe Stark to Cameron Diaz and Giorgio Armani. Our hotel has the largest number of terraces overlooking the via della Spiga and, from our via Montenapoleone Terrace, the most luxurious suite, you can also admire the spires of the Duomo while enjoying the peace and quiet that the streets of the quadrilatero offer.”
In addition to the above mentioned splendid suite, the hotel has 87 different types of rooms, all characterized by an exclusive design that skillfully blends contemporary touches with hints of classicism. Two of its most impressive examples include the modern Grand Deluxe rooms and magnificent Art Déco suites that are enhanced by precious materials skillfully crafted by expert artisans, unique details, lacquered furniture and lavish silks. “We only work with specialists in each sector”, explains Soleri. “This is the secret of our success. From the floral designers who decorate the lobby (photo) and the entrance, to unusual, custom-made fragrances – the fig-scented fragrance that pervades the hall is by Ortigia – which makes our spaces memorable from an olfactory point of view. And, apropos flowers and perfumes, amongst the episodes that put our ability to satisfy any request to the test, one, in particular, remains with me. One of our guests asked me to fill his wife’s room with roses for her birthday. Not just any rose, but one in a highly unusual shade…it goes without saying that we managed to make it happen.
“In cases like these, the assistance of a concierge is vital. Among our concierges, Lino Pasculli is a real institution. He has been a member of staff for approximately ten years and he has an endless network of acquaintances, friends and colleagues to assist us in fulfilling guests’ wishes. For example at the moment, we are organizing a wedding at the Vatican for one of our Polish guests, a wedding that will be preceded by a private concert by Andrea Boccelli, at the Uffizi in Florence.”
The Baglioni Hotel Carlton also opens its doors to people travelling with their four-legged friends: small and medium-sized pets – weighing up to 15 kilos – are, in fact, welcome at the hotel.
Food? Only of the highest quality!
It’s called ‘Breakfast 4 you’ and is the new tasty but healthy concept that the hotel has launched in partnership with the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo (in the province of Cuneo, Piedmont). This is a well-known study centre of international repute which is associated with the Slow Food movement. The ‘Breakfast 4 you’ format, combining Buffet and à la Carte formulas, comes in four different versions: Tradition: for those who enjoy a classic breakfast; 2.0: featuring a mixture of sweet and savoury offerings; Identity: to rediscover the ancient flavours of the region, and Wellbeing based on fruit and vegetables for an energizing, detoxifying effect. The breakfast menu changes every day,” says Soleri (main photo: Luca Soleri and the Food&Beverage team). “Everything is explained by simple labels, to help guide guests in their choices. For example, our bread selection is a hot favourite and guests often ask us whether they can buy a few loaves to take home with them.”
Health also plays a key role at lunchtime. The hotel’s ‘Healthy Menu’ includes dishes based on seasonal ingredients that have a high nutritional value and are rich in vitamins, antioxidants and minerals. One instance is the chicken salad enhanced with Grana Padano Dop, iceberg lettuce, a julienne of carrots, cubed potatoes, sprouts and pieces of black bread, dressed with unrefined salt from the salt mines of Trapani and Slow Food olive oil from Puglia. In keeping with Italian tradition, and prior to dinner, the five-star Milanese hotel also offers two Italian-style snack breaks: a mid-afternoon snack – whose roots date back to past centuries and farming traditions, when peasants ate a frugal, mid-afternoon meal consisting of cheese, cold cuts, anchovies, vegetables pickled in oil and a glass of good wine, and the aperitivo, Milan’s Happy Hour ritual which has now been exported all over the world.
The setting, for breakfast, lunch and cocktails, of the luxurious Caffè Baglioni, decorated with comfortable velvet sofas and precious objet d’art, and the splendid Baglioni terrace overlooking its beautifully tended garden, deserves a special mention.
Hotel and the city
The Baglioni Hotel Carlton is also one of the favourite meeting places of the Milanese, who love Il Baretto, the famous restaurant that, in 2002, relocated from via Sant’Andrea to via Senato, and which, in 2014, celebrated its fiftieth anniversary. Since then, all you need do is to sit at one of its elegant tables to watch Milan’s beautiful people passing by, several of whom often drop in at the restaurant for a quick lunch or a peaceful dinner, characterized by authentic Milanese fare (ossobuco with saffron-flavoured risotto is by far the most popular dish).
Patronized by an elite, often Milanese, clientele, Spiga 8, the hotel’s recently refurbished exclusive urban spa also boasts a luxurious setting. Indulgent amenities include a sauna, a Turkish bath, a gym and massage rooms. The luxury spa aims to spoil guests with treatments that feature Natura Bissè and Ahava products. “Its separate entrance, personalized programs and the fact that it is open at lunch, makes our spa a go-to address for the Milanese,” says Soleri. “Similarly, our aperitivo is one of the most sought-after in the city, and the Caffé Baglioni is always packed with members of the fashion and design industry, and politicians.” On the subject of design, each piece of furniture and every objet d’art present among the velvets and boiserie in the lobby and Caffè has a story to tell. One example is the musical score taken from the work of contemporary Florentine pianist and composer Daniele Lombardi beautifully displayed in copper yarn on the walls of the Caffè Baglioni.
Between the past and the future
As previously mentioned, Lorenzo Soleri has been at the helm of Baglioni Hotel Carlton since 2016, and has had a long and diversified career. After graduating from a school in Switzerland, he began working at a starred restaurant in Cannes. After being posted to the hotel’s reception desk, he was appointed ‘back of the house manager’, i.e. the person who manages ‘behind-the-scenes operations’. A number of international experiences followed in quick succession, including stints in the USA., Belgium, France and the Maldives, after which Soleri returned to Milan, initially at the Diana Majestic and subsequently at the Park Hyatt. He later moved to Rome to work at the Hotel de Russie and then to the Savoy in Florence (both owned by the Rocco Forte Group), finally returning to Milan to work at the Baglioni Carlton in via Senato.
The Baglioni Hotel Group also has an international profile. Following the opening of two properties in France, and one in the heart of London, it recently announced its plan to open a nature resort in the Maldives on the island of Maagau in 2017. The complex will feature 99 villas, three restaurants, a spa and a diving centre. In 2018, the brand is scheduled to launch in Dubai. Other desirable locations? “Without a doubt, America.” Says Soleri. “However, first and foremost, we have to find the right location to honour the chain’s claim: ‘The unforgettable Italian touch’.”
>> Official Website: www.baglionihotels.com
Article by Simona P. K. Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz
Photos by Felice Lardieri