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Luxury Design Hotels Define 21st Century Hospitality in Italy’s Most Design-Driven Cities

Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

Photo Courtesy of Casa di Langa

Architects and interior designers infuse warmth and sustainability into modernist luxury hotels in Florence and Milan, Italy.

If you’ve visited Milan and Florence before, a sure-fire way to rediscover the city that you think you know is to book with design hotels that completely turn Italy’s defining architectural styles on its head. 

If your experience with Milan, Italy—beyond its historic center—is a cool, minimalist hub of industrial chic, the Magna Pars L’Hotel a Parfum, which reopened after a late-2021 remodel, will warm your heart and stir your senses. The recently opened Dimora Palanca in Florence will challenge the way you think about how the city’s deeply ingrained artistic and architectural underpinnings will evolve this century.

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Both design hotels offer top-tier conveniences that discerning travelers expect, like artisanal bath amenities, high concept restaurants anchored by internationally recognized chefs, trend-setting mixology and locations in slightly off-the-beaten-path neighborhoods, which offer guests both quieter surroundings and bragging rights via their proximity to trend-setting shopping, dining and cultural hubs that mainstream travelers have yet to discover…but savvy residents have.

An emergent five-star hotel needs to generate a new excitement for its location, even when the guest doesn’t have the opportunity to venture beyond its neighborhood’s boundaries, or even the building itself. This is where boundary-pushing architecture and interior design comes in, not only redefining an existing structure, but also projecting where art and architecture of a city will head in the future.

Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

Photo Courtesy of Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

MAJESTIC MILAN, ITALY

Although the Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum opened in 2013, the one-time perfume factory is both a celebration of the Martone family’s legacy as Italy’s pre-eminent fragrance producer—on behalf of design houses Gucci, Blumarine, Dsquared2, Gianfranco Ferré, Laura Biagiotti, Pomellato and Trussard—and a work-in-progress that continues to grow in tandem with the city’s art scene. 

Giorgia and Ambra Martone tended to the small details that would make a big impact in transforming the factory into its current, highly specific concept. This includes the LabSolue space (replacing the hotel boutique with a perfume-making workshop and exclusive vendor for home and personal fragrances used throughout the property) as well as Restaurant DA NOI IN and Liquidambar.

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Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

Photo Courtesy of Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

“The overall idea and design was conceived by our family, and (the process) required restraint, talent and sensibility,” details Roberto Martone, owner, president and father to Giorgia and Ambra. 

“With architect Luciano Maria Colombo, we kept the essential spirit of the first renovation of the building. The interior design is the result of family meetings and discussions, balancing the elegant and traditional vision my wife and I had for the hotels and the innovative vision of my daughters to make it a one-of-a-kind hotel, setting new traditions.”

“It is the fundamental aspect that is enhanced inside by a lustrous, welcoming layout,” he continues. “The visual impact is completely new, but conceived in harmony with the original building and the characteristics of the neighborhood.

In the hands of Colombo, the balance between the industrial character of the original building and the design of the hotel is not about glamor, but timelessness, according to Martone. 

“It is the fundamental aspect that is enhanced inside by a lustrous, welcoming layout,” he continues. “The visual impact is completely new, but conceived in harmony with the original building and the characteristics of the neighborhood. An elegant, imposing glass wall reveals post-industrial elements and original walls, as well as open corridors that recall the case a ringhiera, housing specific to this neighborhood that’s noted for its communal balconies.” 

Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

Photo Courtesy of Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

“Steel rods reflect the architectural elements of the renovation of the factory in the 1980s that transformed the ground floor of the early 20th century construction on Via Tortona into the Magna Pars event space,” says Martone.

Using the original structure of the building as a starting point, the hotel stands two floors higher, making way for panoramic views of the revitalized neighborhood, the “Secret Garden” and courtyard—alive with herbs and botanicals used in Restaurant DA NOI IN, cocktails at Liquidambar and LabSolue—which can also be viewed from the suites. 

The resulting “U” shape completes the boundary line of the entire property, underscoring the main neighborhood streets of Via Tortona, Via Forcella and Via Bugatti. Colombo adds that the crown jewel of the hotel is the roof deck. Even with limited space, he stresses that the implemented outdoor areas offer an almost “magical atmosphere” full of light, silence and tranquility not often found at other properties around Milan.

Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

Photo Courtesy of Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

The open, airy ambiance is also a reflection to the family’s commitment to operating an environmentally sound property, as nature has played such a big role in the family’s business dealings since the factory’s inception in 1945. 

“Our first objective was to create a hotel with a sustainable design based on innovative systems,” says Martone. “The structure is entirely constructed of wood and steel, which makes it possible to use cutting-edge technologies to offer guests maximum comfort in respect of the environment. The use of conifer wood from Central Europe, derived from controlled forestry, and renewable geothermal and photovoltaic energy sources are the guarantee for this highly sustainable project.”

The interior design, meanwhile, is governed by a “Made in Italy” philosophy that has always distinguished the business approach and entrepreneurial work of the Martone family. To ensure guests feel in their element in a specifically Italian home setting, Martone notes that the completion of the interior design was entrusted to Lombardy-based companies, artisans and suppliers—including lighting from Poltrona-Frau—to create the clean but cozy milieu. The 60 suites, inserted into the framework of the original factory, are divided into three olfactory family groups—floral, fruity, or woody—with each room having its own exclusive fragrance.

Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

Photo Courtesy of Magna Pars l’Hotel a Parfum

The public spaces also serve as meeting and reception areas while making up what Martone refers to as the Magna Pars Art Gallery, which reflects the constant evolution of Milan’s art scene, displaying the work of the next generation of Italian masters.

“It is not a question of selection, but of love and passion for art and for the beauty in art,” says Martone. “Right from the beginning, we were patrons of artists of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts and we subsequently began to exhibit and purchase works by talented international artists and sculptors that personalize and furnish the public spaces and suites. From there, the Magna Pars Art Gallery was born, which is a constantly evolving exhibition.”

Other exclusive amenities, which can be enjoyed in this urban Eden, include a fitness center and wellness area exclusively for guests, personal training and yoga, perfume therapy and ayurvedic massages and a winery offering tasting sessions. Baby-sitting services, bike rentals, a personal shopper and a “biblioteca” with a prolific collection of books printed between the 18th,  and 20th centuries, and a concierge service organizing specialized guided tours completes the luxe amenities.

Dimora Palanca in Florence

Photo Courtesy of Dimora Palanca

FABULOUS FLORENCE, ITALY

Dimora Palanca, opened in summer 2021, offers a few things other five-star design hotels don’t—an intimate setting and a different perspective of Florence’s cultural legacy that picks up where the Renaissance leaves off. The original building was commissioned by the Palanca family, who entrusted architect Giuseppe Poggi to design and build the sanctuary-like villa between 1865-1871. 

As the building epitomized modern luxury back in the 19th century, it was not surprising that the Palanca family, who were avid art collectors, allowed it to become a hub of artistic activity and social gatherings  drawing top artists, musicians, authors and creative minds of the day.

Under the direction of noted hotelier Laura Stopani, the former Palanca family residence is still a gathering place for art and culture aficionados wanting to explore a different facet of Florence’s art world. Architect Stefano Viviani balances this aspect of the city’s past with the present and future by restoring and preserving many of the villa’s original architectural elements, including the exquisite frescoes and intricate stuccoes.

Dimora Palanca in Florence

Photo Courtesy of Dimora Palanca

Viviani’s present day improvements that bring the building alive include architectural features such as room-spanning windows and French doors allowing natural light to illuminate the ceilings and stucco walls. By night, illumination is accomplished with oversized statement lamps.

Stopani, who bears a striking resemblance to ICONIC jewelry designer and sculptor Elsa Peretti, enthusiastically points out that the final design success was a collaboration between Viviani and Tuscan artist Paolo Dovichi, whose nearly 60 original artworks punctuate the public spaces including the main dining room, game room and salons. According to Stopani, the partnership successfully showcases property’s past glories while elevating it to an impressive new level of “artfully presented hospitality.”

Dovichi’s conversation-starting pieces are offset—by day and night—with a clean backdrop of whites, ivories and grays. Viviani, however, took care to ensure key architectural features remained prominent, including ornate parquet floors and the grand 19th-century fireplace sitting regally inside Mimisi, the hotel’s fine dining venue.

Dimora Palanca in Florence

Photo Courtesy of Dimora Palanca

Sleek furnishings with clean lines give Dimora Palanca’s 18 private rooms and suites an updated aesthetic. Dark wood paneling and natural linens create a sense of luxury and sophistication, while the prevailing color scheme of creams, whites and grays are enhanced by relaxing darker hues of graphite and charcoal. The rooms are also outfitted with state-of-the-art soundproofing, generous en-suite bathrooms with marble interiors, whirlpool bathtubs and chromatography rain shower heads; top-tier Simmons mattresses; luxury bathroom amenities by Florence perfumer Lorenzo Villoresi, and pretty linen accents.

The Orangery, where the Palanca family preserved their garden’s plants during the winter, has been transformed into rooms for families or larger parties. This enables guests in the main building to enjoy total tranquility. The private courtyard garden between them, according to Stopani, further sets it apart from other properties in town. The garden, bringing in a touch of the Tuscan countryside, features aromatic climbing jasmine, a manicured lawn and stone beds filled with beautiful displays of seasonal flowers.

Dimora Palanca in Florence

Photo Courtesy of Dimora Palanca

Although the Dimora Palanca is a slightly longer walk from Florence’s cultural center, Stopani notes that the size and location reflect a sophisticated and experienced traveler’s desire to live like a local. The concierge not only can arrange exclusive tours of Florence’s great museums and historic sites, but also custom immersive experiences led by renowned experts to enrich the guests’ familiarity with the city. Highlights include a Ferrari driving experience, luxury shopping tours, and specialized tours dedicated to wine tasting, cooking, local restaurants, architecture, light adventure, wellness and more.

Casa di Langa

Photo Courtesy of Casa di Langa

PICTURESQUE PIEMONTE REGION, ITALY

Anybody planning a ski or wine trip to the Piemonte Region, just an hour by train or car west of Milan, Italy, will appreciate that Casa di Langa is not just another chic hotel. The design is rooted in the natural world and its sustainable future. 

Kyle Krause, Chairman and CEO of parent company, The Krause Group, the goal was to create an eco-friendly space reflecting Piemonte’s natural attributes, soul as a wine producer, and a destination that lives up to the luxury traveler’s expectations while adhering to carbon neutrality.

Casa di Langa

Photo Courtesy of Casa di Langa

To bring this to life, two Milan Italy-based design teams—GaS Studio overseeing the architecture and Parisotto + Formenton Architetti, heading up the interior design—partnered up to take a sustainable approach to architecture and design. They drew inspiration from the hazelnut orchard, vegetable garden and the views of the vineyards to integrate these natural elements that have long been a part of Piemonte’s character. 

Artwork on display at Casa di Langa is an engaging selection of world-class fine art, highlighting notable Italian and American artists. Each room or suite, features a spacious private terrace, relaxation area and a spa-like bathroom with invigorating rain showers and calming Le Labo toiletries.  

Behind the scenes, the hotel runs on 100% recycled water for irrigation, geothermal heating throughout, zero single-use plastic, PV cells and solar panels.This deep passion for sustainable practices can be seen in every aspect of the design, construction and operation of the resort.

Casa di Langa

Photo Courtesy of Casa di Langa

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