silvia
Silvia Pisci
Excelsior Hotel Gallia
Piazza Duca d'Aosta, 9, 20124 Milano
1st May 2016

I visited Excelsior Hotel Gallia after just over a year since the anticipated re-opening. Italian architect Marco Piva has led the renovations of the historical hotel with a completely new, futuristic vision. Did he manage successfully with such a challenge? Most of all, how is the hotel positioning itself on Milan’s rapidly growing luxury hotel scene? Read on to find out…

Location
Right next to Milan’s central train station. Perhaps it’s not the trendiest location, but it is without a doubt extremely convenient for business travelers and tourists alike (you’re literally 10 seconds away from the main metro/taxi/train/bus station). Plus, that gorgeous Maserati parked in front of the hotel can take you downtown free of charge anytime during the day (even to/from the airport if you’re staying in a Suite).
Who stays?
With such a bold, masculine character, Excelsior Gallia seems at first sight the ideal hotel for a businessman - and yes, there were many (including several from Milan who choose the hotel lounge bar or restaurant for their meetings). This was particularly evident at breakfast: the room was crowded at 7.45 already, and was empty by 8.30. I stayed and worked on my PC from there, and I was quite surprised when I saw the room getting crowded again around 9.30 and remaining so until 11. I would say that the ratio of business travelers vs. tourists was about 50-50%. I didn't see a single child.
A great mix of international and Italian businessmen, but I also met several tourists.
Style and Character
Despite being a business-oriented hotel (just like most of the hotels in Milan, in fact), nothing at Excelsior Gallia feels in any way corporate, heavy or generic and anonymous as many corporate hotels often do. The massive renovation that the hotel underwent before the re-opening last year was led by Italian architect Marco Piva. He brought life back to the Art Deco soul of the original structure and combined it with futuristic design. The result is quite impressive. Every single corner is an homage to Made in Italy design, from the glistening marble to the Poltrona Frau and Fendi furniture to the Murano glasses – in that elegant, sleek way that’s perfectly representative of Italy’s fashion and design capital.

The black and white marble, with their sharp lines and silver inlays, “cut” the spaces and some create very peculiar light effects: the common areas feel grand and intimate at the same time. Not an easy feat!
Service
Unimpeachable is the word to use. Most of all, because I never had to wait more than 3 minutes to get anything I requested (it was almost ridiculous when I asked for toothpaste and they brought it in less than a minute). Check-in was easy and quick, and so was the check-out – which was highly appreciated as I was rushing on both occasions and I didn’t even have to mention that.
The Staff is young but undoubtedly skillful, precise and smiley, flexible enough to understand and accommodate demanding guests (hello, it’s me!). This was particularly true at breakfast and lunch - see more in the Food & Drink section.

Something I never got to experience before was a fire alarm and consequent hotel evacuation… No one seemed to panic (the guest sitting next to me didn't want to leave his table because "my omelette is on the way!"), and the Staff managed the situation very well. It was nothing serious, luckily, and everything returned to normal in ten minutes or so. The grace and calm with which this was handled is telling of the entire experience.
Rooms and Suites
235 in total, of which 53 are suites. My room (a Prestige room, second category) was fairly spacious and very bright despite the dark furnishings, thanks to the big windows facing the square. It also featured a balcony, although I would have had to call the Front Desk if I wanted to access it, for security reasons.
The design is contemporary, essential yet extremely functional. Colours and furnishings change slightly in the Suites, most of which have a distinct personality. My favorites were the Art Suites located in the new wing of the hotel, with floor-to-ceiling windows and rolling panels which are used to separate living and bedroom.

Something I loved is that the high-tech devices are widely employed but absolutely “blonde-proof”(hello, it’s me again! :)) – very intuitive if not even automatic, like the sensors lighting up the corridor if you get out of bed when it’s dark.

Bathrooms are big, all in marble and most of them have a separate tub and shower. Many of the suites also feature a jacuzzi and turkish bath. Trussardi toiletries and the connected sound system make the whole experience even more enjoyable.
Something I found a bit uncomfortable is that my shower didn’t have a door that I could close completely.

Special mention inevitably goes to the Katara Suite, over 1,000 square metres plus over 250 of private terrace. This jewel occupies the entire last floor of the hotel and includes 4 bedrooms, a spa, outdoor Jacuzzi, meeting room and kitchen. You only need a budget of 20,000 Euro per night - not THAT crazy if you divide it by 8...
Food and Drink
Full marks to both quality and service. The breakfast buffet wasn’t huge yet it was quite varied, fresh, regularly replenished and extremely well presented - every single strawberry was beautifully displayed. I liked the small open kitchen (first time I've seen this in Europe!), with the cook preparing omelettes and other hot dishes upon request. Everything looked tasty, and I appreciated that there was no smell in the room.

If the weather is good, the restaurant on the 7th floor with its panoramic terrace is a great spot to enjoy lunch or dinner with a view. The bar on the terrace is perfect for aperitivo and post-dinner drinks, served with amazing canapés and cool vibes from the live DJ set.

On the ground floor there’s the Lounge Bar – it has a nice, tranquil atmosphere, and is the place I chose as my working station in the afternoon and where I had lunch (14 euros for a salad sounded like a lot, but it was totally worth it for how good it looked and tasted!).
Service was extremely quick and accurate.
Features, Wellness, and Amenities
I feel ashamed for not having tried the hotel spa, the first spa in Italy to open under Japanese beauty brand Shiseido. We’re talking over 1,000 square metres of pools and treatment rooms, including a huge Spa Suite – couple treatments’ Wonderland. It also boasts a big and well-equipped fitness centre with panoramic views.
Perceived Value
Rates at Gallia are usually lower than at its fashionable competitors downtown and absolutely adequate for the high quality of service and amenities you receive.
Verdict
The blending of tradition and innovation is what makes the essence of Made in Italy. Hotel Gallia is the perfection embodiment of this: a hotel with a solid history and a marked futuristic vision, which combine seamlessly and eleganty. A safe recommendation for a variety of travelers – from funky fashionistas to distinguished businessmen. I wouldn't hesitate to go back.