Six of the best: Design hotels in Milan

ARMANI HOTEL MILANO

Think Milan design and you could hardly go past Giorgio Armani, who started off here dressing windows for La Rinascente department store. Now you can stay in his very own hotel, where the Armani aesthetic makes a monochrome, minimalist statement. Guestrooms are sleek, feature Armani furnishings and fabrics, and have wallow-worthy soaking tubs. If you want to fit into the clothes at the Armani concept store downstairs, nibble on raw fish at Nobu restaurant. The hotel's best feature? Views over the city and its fanciful cathedral turrets, particularly splendid from the top-floor spa. Rooms from €450 ($660).

See milan.armanihotels.com

PALAZZO PARIGI HOTEL

Milan's latest makeover has given this 17th-century palazzo plenty of flooding light and terraces or balconies for many guestrooms, resulting in an airy feel for an old building. Choose from rooms decorated in 1930s Milanese or Parisian styles (the star interior designer is Frenchman Pierre-Yves Rochon), all with sumptuous marble bathrooms. The public areas are studded with antiques, art works and enough chandeliers to gladden the heart of Marie-Antoinette. Pet sitting, yoga lessons and personal shoppers are among the services. The fashion district and La Scala are just a walk away. Rooms from €440.

See palazzoparigi.com

BOSCOLO HOTEL EXEDRA MILANO

Outstanding lighting, a palette of bright colour, twisted metal and moulded plastics have given what was once a sedate 1920s bank building a remarkable, modernist new lease on life that falls just short of the surreal. Almost everything is a hymn to Italian design, from Meritalia chairs to Bisazza mosaic work, although the seafood restaurant is a bedazzlement of pink Turkish marble. The spa, Milan's largest, is like being inside a lava lamp of reflected colour, mirrors and optical effects. Rooms from €350.

See milano.boscolohotels.com

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STRAF HOTEL

Designers are usually tempted to pack palazzos with antique clutter but at Straf an almost Zen attitude reigns. Stone, metal, concrete and recycled objects, especially an abundance of wonderful aged mirrors, create restrained but elegant surrounds that architect-artist Vincenzo de Cotiis likens to a contemporary art installation. Stay in a wellbeing room and you will find a massage chaise longue and mood-enhancing lighting and aromatherapy. Out-of-the-ordinary arty types haunt the corridors but the dress code is Milanese impeccable: pack your designer duds to hang out in the edgy, retro hotel bar. Rooms from €320.

See straf.it

THE GRAY MILANO

The art nouveau facade of this city-centre hotel provides a misleadingly unified designer ethos. Inside, each of the 21 guestrooms is different: some have a jungle-inspired theme where zebra print runs riot, while others are monochrome modern, with suspended beds and adjacent Philippe Stark baths. In the public areas, geometrical minimalism is interrupted by unexpected curves, faux furs, crocodile skin and padded leather by designer Guido Ciompi, who often works with Gucci. Le Noir restaurant, all black lacquer and chandeliers wrought from cutlery, serves fine mod-Med fare served by acolyte-like waiters in black. Rooms from €445. See slh.com/thegray.

CHATEAU MONFORT

Of all Milan's hotels, this five-star Relais & Chateaux property comes the closest to being the ultimate romantic getaway. Its feminine approach to interior design will delight wives and girlfriends. The Hibiscus rooms are utterly seductive. The pink building's architecture is art nouveau but the modernist interior is loosely inspired by fairytales and childhood fancies. Some rooms have giant toy soldiers guarding the beds, and the Cinderella Suite has pumpkin chairs. Butterflies and flowers decorate the walls, and colour, especially purple, is everywhere. Opera lovers should book the fabulous Traviata, Butterfly or Tourandot suites. Rooms from €295.

See hotelchateaumonfort.com.

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