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Review: Room Mate Guilia, Milan

Introduction to Discovering Great Italian Hotels
Excelsior Hotel Gallia (Milan)
Room Mate Giulia (Milan)
Boscolo Exedra Roma (Rome)
The St Regis (Rome)
Armani Hotel Milano (Milan)

Room Mate Guilia, 
Milan, Italy

Having had a lovely stay at the Excelsior Hotel Gallia, I moved onto my second hotel in Milan - the Room Mate Gulia.

With a name like 'Room Mate' Giulia - I wasn't entirely sure what I was getting myself into when I first heard of it. At first I was worried I was put into a hostel type location - or maybe it was an Airbnb type of location, which definitely sounded better than a hostel. As mentioned in my earlier post - this was a work trip, hence work had actually booked this location (and I had absolutely no say in it since I wasn't the only traveller), so I wasn't quite sure what they were signing me up for - but the good thing was that this was all paid for (for 3 nights). Well as it turns out, with a little bit of research, this 4 star hotel was (at the time of stay) the #1 ranked hotel in Milan according to Tripadvisor - no small feat on it's own. As of writing this post, Room Mate Giulia has dropped to #2 (behind the famous Mandarin Oriental) - but still, in Milan, being a 4 star hotel ranked as the second best in the city is still unbelievable! The way I break it down is this, Milan generally has 2 types of hotels - The really posh and high end (like the Excelsior Gallia), and the really low end hotels. Anything in between is lacking in numbers (so I'm told by my Italian friends).

That's where Room Mate Giulia stands out - It's one of the inbetween locations, gearing towards the luxury segment, but with a unique twist. Designed by world renown architect/designer Patricia Urquiola as well as Cassina Contract helping with the custom interior fit out (Cassina Contract also worked on Excelsior Gallia if you remember!). What's unique about this hotel is that's it's been designed in a very Arty Retro 'Mad Man-esque' style - without compromising on quality and comfort. The interesting thing about Patricia is that I've love a lot of her work, her products, and her designs - so this was a great experience for me as you could really tell where Patricia had used her personal design touches throughout the hotel to make it look incredibly unique. Even more so - I met and had a workshop with Patricia Urquiola during my trip in Milan for work - the experience was incredible, as she comes across as an inspired, yet focused dreamer. For those high rollers reading this, Patricia has just designed a brand new hotel in Lake Como that has become my next dream hotel - Il Sereno, if I ever end up in the Como region (Mark Zuckerberg was staying at Il Sereno the week I was in Milan). But enough about my fan crush on Patricia...

Location wise - the Room Mate Giulia is situated perfectly - directly across the Park Hyatt, a 30 second walk to the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele, and a 2 minute walk to the Duomo di Milano - you were essentially in the heart of Downtown Milan. Upon getting dropped off, I quickly found the enterance to the Room Mate Guilia and made my way inside to the reception. The first thing I noticed was just how 'chill' and unique the lobby area looked - it was unlike anything I had seen at a hotel before.

It wasn't massive - but it was interesting. Sort of like a modern art gallery in a way, with the unique kinds of painting (?) displayed across.

Either way, I dragged my bag upstairs myself since it wasn't offered (I suppose the main difference between 4 and 5 star hotels in Italy) and made my way to the room on the 4th floor. This room was only 20 m sq, so a bit smaller than standard sized rooms in 5 star hotels in Italy, but then again we are comparing a 4 star here. The room numbers were marked with cool lights as per below as well (seriously - more hotel rooms need to have lighting like this on the room numbers).

As for the room - it was just as unique as the lobby. Maybe someone with more poetic words can help me out.

The bed frame looked like it was hanging from leather straps, the roof was covered in the standard Urquiola square patterns, and most interestingly enough - the cupboard was replaced with steel frames and a curtain to cover it (the safe and the minibar were also located here). It was replicated for the desk as well, and the tv hung over the top. Even the bed lamps were hanging from the room, with a steampunk kind of metal look at times. I was both impressed and intrigued, though it felt like a weird switch after a modern luxury hotel. There was a nice welcome note from the Owner, and some treats to go with it, and the minibar seemed to have a few sparse items in it.

If you thought the room was different, wait till you saw the bathroom - very Mad Men-esque.

The blue wall tiles with the red framing gave it an old look, but the red/orange sink gave it a good stand out factor. I really hated the bathroom at first, but the neutral wall tones gave me a calming feeling, so I grew to tolerate it over the next few days. One thing which was quite amazing at this hotel was the number of amenities - which was not only well stocked, but uniquely identified to stand out rather than the boring regular descriptions. For instance, the Shower cap was 'Shower cap for brilliant minds', the soap was 'Soap for Joyful hands' and even the toothbrush was 'Dental kit for monster teeth'. Very cool. The only issue was once the shampoo/body wash was opened, it was difficult to close them since the seal was broken.

I decided to take a look out my tiny balcony, to see the view. I wish I hadn't. The view itself wasn't terrible if you were looking from the room, as it just showed the inner bedrooms of the hotel - but once you looked down, there was a garbage dump area. Lovely. I kept the window closed for the rest of the stay in case there was ever a smell (though it wasn't horrible when I noticed the first time).

After checking in, I decided to meet up with the rest of the work gang from Australia and check out more of the sights of the city, before heading out for dinner and drinks at night.

When we can back, it was super cool to see they had a DJ spinning some tunes in the lobby to liven up the atmosphere - I don't think I've ever seen this at a hotel, quite like this. The staff told me it was only because of Milan Fashion week - and it's not a reuglar occurance, however I suggested they look into it during weekends - because it really got people socialising at the lobby more (plus they serve drinks at the lobby too).

The next morning we were out doing work stuff and tours, so there wasn't much to write about. The sleep comfort was decent, though I've certainly had better at hotels. The only annoying thing was that the light where you would your card key in - it was quite noticable at night, especially in a smaller room. That took some getting used to, but other than that - it was alright.

However before heading out, we did enjoy some breakfast at the cafe - which was also different designed - but not as far fetched as the lobby or rooms (although the hanging back frames with the leather look was still there, though differently designed). It was brightly lit, and I especially liked how despite the small area - there were many different seat settings to sit at. As for the breakfast itself - for Italian standard they were fairly good - there was very little hot food, but plenty of other little tidbits and bread related foods like pastries. Coffee was self service, though the machine was new (since the hotel had just opened up a few months prior) and tasted nice. The juices didn't taste fresh, more canned, that was the only downside, lack of fresh juice.

When I did come back, I noticed they leave a little card with the name of the person that cleaned your room - giving it a personal touch in a way.

I did manage to buy some nice work shoes while in Milan - but overall most of the time was spent with the work crew.

There's not much else to say - I moved onto Rome after the 2nd night at 5am (long drive), but the hotel packed small mini brekky boxes for us to take with us, which was a nice touch. It was an interesting experience at the Room Mate Guilia - on one hand the unique design and setup was unlike anything in Rome - and unlike anywhere I'd stayed at before. On the other hand, coming from a Luxury 5 star hotel to this was a weird change - not bad, just weird. However, despite the quirkiness and minor flaws, it was a pleasant stay - and no one had any major complaints. Would I stay here again in Milan - perhaps if the rate was good, because a normal rate of $400 AUD is quite high when that get's you better hotels in the area, but at a lower rate I may consider it. Whatever the case - it was the most uniquely designed hotel I've stayed at yet.

Facilities + Extra8.5
Probably one of the coolest and unique hotels I've ever stayed at - very design and art friendly. Everything has been designed with a certain intention in mind - and while most of it comes off (the lobby, the bedroom), some of it doesn't (the bathrooms) - at least initially. The breakfast spread is small, but hearty and fresh. The Location is the biggest draw though - literally right in the heart of the city - this is hands down the biggest draw of this place. The only real downside is that the cost is fairly high for a 4 star, but relative to the 5 star properties around it. Overall - well worth staying if you get a good rate at this place, there's very little I could fault the Room Mate Guilia otherwise.