This former private residence is housed in an aristocratic ‘palazzo’ located in one of Milan’s most central streets where the Naviglio once flowed. The Senato Hotel welcomes guests into a sober, elegant and discreet atmosphere, highlighted by some unconventional touches.
The elegant plaque in white marble that is attached to the Neoclassical façade, shows its name in relief letters and tells us that we have arrived. Located just steps from the verdant Indro Montanelli gardens, and the same distance from the cosmopolitan via Manzoni, this former private residence has now been transformed into a boutique hotel. Although it only opened in July 2015, it has already become a reference point for an elite roster of international guests, who appreciate the contrasts of its décor and its tailor-made service. “What with a room occupancy of approximately 80%, and a discerning, international clientele, who appreciate art and design, and are accustomed to travelling, the results only a few months after the hotel opened, exceeded all expectations.” Says Alessandro D’Andrea, the General Manager of the Senato Hotel. “Approximately 70% of our guests are foreigners. The countries most widely represented include the USA, France, the UK, Belgium, Russia and Switzerland while the remaining 30% are Italian. I remember days when we were fully-booked when the hotel was filled with the sound of every language in the world except Italian,” says the General Manager with a smile.
The Allure of Tailor-Made Details
While wandering through the luminous spaces of the hotel, it is clear from the décor that every single detail is meticulously customized, from the metal laser-cut doors at the entrance, to the choice of brass and white and black marble furnishings. Other details include the vertically positioned Chesterfield sofa in one of the small lounges and the pink details that add an unusual touch of colour to the rooms and communal areas. The reception area features a wall lit by hand-made golden lamps that take inspiration from the fan-shaped leaves of the ginkgo tree, while there is a shallow pool of water in the interior courtyard that is as relaxing as it is unexpected. Other highlights include the mood board in the passage that leads from the hall to the cafè.
The mood board, decorated with postcards, photographs, newspaper cuttings of old-world Milan and sketches by Milanese architect Alessandro Bianchi, who designed the hotel’s unique pieces of furniture and was also responsible for each detail of the restyling project, represents a real piece of history.
“For more than a century, this Neoclassical building was the private home of the Ranzas, a family of fourth generation Milanese entrepreneurs,” says D’Andrea. “Believe it or not, the residence once overlooked the Naviglio which, in days gone by, actually flowed through via Senato. When the time came to restyle it, the family didn’t simply decide to open ‘a hotel’ , but rather to open their Milanese home to guests visiting the city.
Numerous original details were maintained, including the beautiful windows and the Liberty-style banister, while many other objects were custom designed and created almost exclusively by Milanese craftsmen, including Bottega Gadda. The idea is to offer guests a truly ‘Milanese’ experience down to the last detail, including the atmosphere of the Senato cafè, a Milanese, Gio Pontiesque-style bistrot which offers strictly local, regional cuisine, served in dishes designed especially for the hotel. The bistro, which is also open to the public, offers tantalizing lunches and dinners, and top-notch aperitivi served comfortably at your table without involving the stress of a buffet.”
Relax With a View
Though paying homage to Lombardy’s provincial capital (an interesting fact: clips from films in which Milan plays a leading role (from the sixties to the present day) are shown on the screen located in the hotel’s communal spaces), the Senato Hotel also welcomes guests with other leimotifs that make its special.
For example there is the ‘double theme’, achieved through a play of mirrors, with double lamps, two inner courtyards and numerous symbolic references, including the one linked to the leaf of the gingko tree, a symbol of rebirth, which is even depicted on the building’s logo.
“The water feature in the interior courtyard and the outdoor patio area of the second courtyard, where you can breakfast or lunch, in summer in the shade of two gingko trees, are real oases of peace that allow you to forget the chaos of Milan, and blend perfectly with the tradition and the structural details of the hotel to create sleek, unique spaces,”, says Alessandra Monti, the hotel’s front office manager. This sentiment is echoed by sales & marketing manager Serena Ferrarese.
“Even the 43 rooms, all soundproofed and furnished with Sommier beds designed by Bianchi, offer total relaxation, which is a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of Milan’s business centre.
And on the subject of business, guests can also avail themselves of high-speed Wi-Fi both in-room, and in all public areas of the hotel as well as sockets to power computers, tablets and smartphones”. Apropos of relaxation, one wing of the attic floor of the Senato hotel has two beautiful junior suites, while the other wing features a luxurious solarium with sunbeds, an outdoor shower, a wooden teak area and an artificial lawn. The piece de resistance is the magnificent view over the spires of the Duomo and Milan’s skyline.
A Staff of 13 Professionals
The new premises in via Senato are run by a close-knit team of 13 staff, divided up between the hospitality and food & beverage areas, led by General Manager Alessandro D’Andrea. After a position as Deputy Manager at a family-run hotel, D’Andrea went on to work at larger hotels in Sicily, Sardinia and Lombardy. He continued this career path while working with the Starhotels group as head of the reception desk in Milan. Subsequent appointments included working as the deputy manager of the Accor hotel, and later as the manager of a Novotel. At only 32 years old, D’Andrea was appointed manager of the Imperial Palace, an historic five-star hotel located in Santa Margherita Ligure. After a stint at the Bentley hotel in Genoa, he was hired to supervise the rebranding of the Melià group, an appointment that brought him back to Milan prior to beginning his adventure at the Senato Hotel.
Sales & marketing are entrusted to Serena Ferraresi, who in spite of her youthful age claims an impressive resumè. While completing her degree, she worked at the reception desk of the Park Hyatt in Milan. The Moschino Hotel then hired her to work as their sales & marketing manager, later entrusting her with the same responsibility for the entire group.
The front office is run by Alessandra Monti, who began her career with Costa Crociere and which, she explains ‘happened almost by chance”. She then worked at several luxury hotels, including the Grand Hotel et de Milan, the Imperial Palace in Santa Margherita and the Carlyle Brera in Milan.
Article and Photos by Simona P.K. Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz