Overlooking Corso Buenos Aires, one of the most popular shopping streets in Milan, the Best Western Plus Hotel Galles combines upscale services and amenities with excellent value for money.
Located approximately half-way down corso Buenos Aires, one of the streets best-loved by the Milanese for purchasing well-known brands and everyday pret-a-porter, we find an austere late 19th century building decorated in an elegant shade of pastel yellow. The building is the Hotel Galles, a refined four-star facility, where one of the plus points is its strategic position. And the position, combined with excellent value for money, as well as a number of surprising on-site amenities, including, a spa and swimming pool, and a panoramic rooftop terrace, is just another reason why the hotel attracts both business and leisure travelers.
A combination of these benefits guarantees a room occupancy that is higher than the city average, hosting approximately 110,00 guests a year, 60% of whom are foreigners. The hotel’s sole administrator, Filippo Seccamani Mazzoli, explains that the Hotel Galles’ affiliation with the international Best Western brand gives it increased visibility on a global level. “In today’s global world, and especially in the hotel industry, being independent is no longer an advantage. Being part of a chain means respect for specific qualitative parameters which act as a guarantee for guests, and also enables the hotel to significantly increase its potential customer base.” Even the ‘threat’ of Airbnb does not faze Seccamani, who notes that, “ In addition to being able to relax at the end of the day at the spa, or enjoy an aperitivo at sunset, it’s the assurance of security that makes our format a winning one. All the fabrics used in our hotel are one hundred percent fireproof and we have a 24-hour surveillance service.”
Relaxing with a view
Although they can’t be seen from the outside, the hotel has two panoramic terraces with a rooftop solarium and a hanging garden on the first floor. During warmer weather, at all times of the day, these spaces can be enjoyed by guests in search of a retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Moreover, at sunset, while sipping an aperitivo, guests can experience a magnificent wrap-around view of the city, including the Duomo’s golden Madonnina.
Or, before heading to the hotel’s romantic La Terrazza restaurant to sample the specialties prepared by Chef Moreno Ungaretti – a well-known face on Benedetta Parodi’s TV cookery show, you can stop at the American Bar to indulge in traditional Milanese pre-dinner cocktail prepared by its expert mixologist. Although its cuisine is international, the menu at La Terrazza offers an array of classic dishes from the Lombardy area, including risotto with osso buco and Milan’s famous ‘cotoletta a orecchia di elefante’ or ‘elephant’s ear cutlet’ (but don’t worry, the word elephant only refers to a very thin, beaten-out-till-enormous breaded veal cutlet, whose shape resembles that of an elephant’s ear). “We consider food the ambassador of our guest experience,” says Seccamani, “which means that it’s important to offer guests a food experience enhanced by Milanese flavours.”
From an e-concierge to environmentally-friendly options
Although Wi-Fi access is now a benefit taken for granted by those staying at a four or five-star hotel, the Hotel Galles has taken this one step further. On logging in, guests are redirected to the online concierge page, which not only provides useful information about the city and the hotel, but also provides access to a virtual newsstand, where guests can leaf through leading national and international newspapers as well as various, general interest magazines. “As part of our commitment to making increasingly eco-sustainable choices, we have introduced several ‘green’ measures including light-out cards in guest rooms, the use of solar panels, the replacement of classic light bulbs with LED lights and the introduction of a strict waste recycling policy. We have also abolished the use of paper,” says Seccamani, “Opting, instead, for online subscriptions, that are all available to our guests free-of-charge. These include the Corriere della Sera, the Sole 24 Ore, and international newspapers and magazines, including Where Milan, because happenings are Milan’s driving force.” An interesting fact: the hotel also has a pair of bat-boxes, a totally eco-friendly remedy used for mosquito control.
A ‘family’ hotel
While walking through the hall of the Hotel Galles, you cannot help but notice a genealogical tree and a series of portraits, depicting the current owner and his predecessors. “My grandparents bought the property in 1894”, says Filippo Seccamani Mazzoli, “and converted it into a two-star ‘pensione’, which they then entrusted to third party management. When the lease on the rent expired in 1986, I found myself, literally from one day to the next, acting as a hotel manager. I began by giving the hotel a total makeover. I increased the number of rooms from 60 to 200, I enlarged the meeting rooms and I converted the facility into a four-star hotel. With a degree in political sciences, Filippo Seccamani Mazzoli has the soul of a philanthropist. Each year, he lends his rooms to the organizers of a large charity event, and also opens his meeting rooms on weekends, free-of-charge, to young artists who want to showcase their works.
>> Official website: www.galles.it
Article and Photos by Simona P.K Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz