...and to this conception, he was faithful to the end
The Great Gatsby (F. Scott Fitzgerald, 1925)
I will admit it. I am a Gatsby, a wide-eyed dreamer with ideas of sky scrapers and all-night parties, luscious marble, loose morals, endless cocktails, and theatrical architecture. Milan is the perfect setting for a Fitzgerald rhapsody, from its art nouveau buildings with gorgeous moldings and sharp art deco palazzi to the shiny new towers. The city has the uncanny ability to transform itself from quiet and reserved to decadent, bombastic and monumental. And lately, I've noticed that Milan architecture is living up to the most fundamental of Gatsby creed - if you want to woo a Daisy Buchanan, you have to bring the best to West Egg.
Case in point: Excelsior Hotel Gallia, the latest hotel opening* in Milan.
For years, I've had my eye on the Hotel Gallia. Each time I walked around Stazione Central (Milan's central train station that is immediately in front of the hotel), I studied the Gallia's art nouveau/art deco facade wondering what was going on inside. Would it be left to the vultures of railway hotels? Would it subdivided into offices? Would it become an H&M?
While I thought the Gallia was hibernating, architect Marco Piva was renovating, gutting the 1932 historic hotel to its marble lobby and columns, and then rebuilding it into a modern Art Nouveau/Art Deco luxury using only the very best materials.
Daisy, you're home.
Gallia is all marble, light and lines. When I visited last week, I bumped into Piva in the orange-blossom scented lobby and had the pleasure of talking with him about flow, furniture and font.
Piva was inspired by Art Deco and incorporates its elements throughout the entire hotel, while avoiding creating a period piece by decorating with 21st century design and furniture. He worked with Poltrona Frau, Flos, Fendi Casa and Cassina to create Gallia unique pieces that show off the very best of Italian design, meanwhile he had his eye and finger on every color and material (marbles, metal, leather and woods) used throughout the hotel.
This is clearly Piva's West Egg.
The seven-floor hotel is .... lush and luminous. The sprawling ground floor area is a 21st century Gatsby hang out area of high ceilings and marble, with a lounge, well-stocked library, cigar bar, restaurant and cocktail bar accented by light hues, warm fabrics and Poltrona Frau furniture.
From floors two to seven, its 235 rooms are beautiful and smart - with technology and style. I loved the outlets, nightlights, Trussardi amenities, Marvis mouthwash, Domori chocolate bars, the marble and glass bathroom, and of course the view of Stazione Centrale, my favorite train station in the world. I even loved the "lobbies" on every floor with their fluorescent yellow accents and Barbarella-reminicent sofas. The suites were delicious. My favorite is in the Art Suite which swims in light and has butter-colored leather quilted accents. Piva's love for architecture and design is most obvious in the five suites he dedicated to Itlaian architects Gio Ponti, Achille Castiglioni, Vico Magistretti, Luigi Caccia Dominioni and Franco Albini. Yes, he brings in elements from each architect in to each suite, with Piva style.
At the time I visited*, the spa and palestra were completed but not yet open. On floor six, the Gallia will have Shiseido spa, a state-of-the art gym, a virtual golf course, while its 7th floor will have a rooftop restaurant and bar aiming to stake its claim in the city's no bar and restaurant scene in a futurist art deco homage. I walked through the penthouse Katari suite, though yet to be decorated, it looks like it will be amazing. The restaurant was almost complete-- though chef has yet to be announced.
Hotel Gallia is a lost weekend waiting to happen.
*The Excelsior Hotel Gallia is still in its soft opening phase.