Milano Scala in via dell’Orso is highly central and a treasure trove of unexpected surprises, from its terrace which offers a 360-degree view of the city to live music at breakfast, to the light lunches served at its salad bar to its rooftop vegetable garden, and the truly eco-friendly services offered by the facility.
According to the New York Times, the Milano Scala is one of four reasons to visit Milan. Reasons for this accolade include its marvelous terrace and unexpected rooftop vegetable garden offering a wrap-around view of the city that stretches as far as the Alps on clear days.
Another winning plus is the ‘green philosophy’ that distinguishes this property, making it truly a one-of-a-kind zero emission hotel. “Our commitment to conservation and our desire to prevent pollution, resulted in our pursuit of eco-sustainable philosophies, and these have definitely paid off, from the use of underground water to electricity sourced from wind and photovoltaic sources, and includes the adoption of direct exchange heat pumps and our organic vegetable garden,” says Maurizio Faroldi, the Hotel Manager until 30 September 2016, who has run the Milano Scala since it first opened six years ago. He explains, “We can honestly say that thanks to our eco-sensitive approach and the use of green technologies we are the first non-polluting hotel in Milan. Among other things, these technologies allow us to save space, by eliminating the caissons and boilers found on the roofs and terraces of many other residences, and this is a huge benefit for the hotel’s trendy terrace. Decked out with beautiful wicker sofas in summer, this is the place where Milan’s beautiful people meet to sip tantalizing aperitivi accompanied by strictly organic finger food.
A Constantly Evolving Space
The heart of the hotel is its eclectic foyer, an airy, welcoming light-filled space enhanced by a glass roof, comfortable chairs, sofas and a fireplace. “This space changes during the day” says Beatrice Masi, Sales and Marketing Manager, “in the morning it is used for breakfast (served in all the rooms on the ground floor, including the bar and restaurant).
Music is an integral aspect of the hotel and, each day, while breakfasting, guests are treated to live concerts with the musicians playing different instruments and different types of music. At lunch, it is transformed into a salad bar, offering a rich buffet of vegetables and salads. At lunchtime, it is filled with Milanese locals in search of a healthy, quick, low calorie meal. In the afternoon it becomes a relaxing lounge where, in winter, it offers a charming setting for a cup of tea by the fireplace enhanced by the soothing notes of soft music. In the evening, during colder weather, it unveils its more worldly side with an aperitivo experience at the adjacent Primadonna bar.”
A Vegetable Garden in the City
Another element that makes the Milano Scala unique is its rooftop vegetable garden, where the farmer does not limit himself to cultivating aromatic herbs and various vegetables, but, almost like a historical archivist, salvages traditional seeds at risk of extinction, and grows unusual products such as sun black, a type of tomato whose skin derives from the cross-fertilization of blueberries and currants, or edible flowers including spicy nasturtiums, delicate violets or scented dog-roses. In the morning, the chef picks the vegetables and herbs needed for the day, and creates the menu based on fresh, homegrown products. Alternately, on request, departing guests can take some of the garden’s essences home with them. “Pruning makes them thrive,” explains Maurizio Faroldi, “And in the meantime we’re engaging in a kind of scent marketing.” Among the plants, guests will also notice a small wooden box, labeled ‘Insect Hotel’. This is used to attract ladybirds and other insects that feed on green flies, thus avoiding the use of any type of pesticide.
The Rooms: a Blend of Opera and Allergy-free Elements
La Scala, the famous temple of opera and ballet, is located just a few metres from the hotel which pays tribute to it not only in name but also with eight of its 62 rooms, whose themed décor is dedicated to several famous operas. “These are specifically our suites and junior suites,” explains Faroldi, “where their colours, details and furnishings recall those of the theatre, and where the walls are decorated with a series of photographs dating back to the 1950s, originating from the La Scala archives. The interesting thing about them is that they are not photographs of stage sets, but depict instead the stage hands preparing the stage and mounting the sets.” The hotel not only caters to music lovers, but also to the needs of guests suffering from dust-mite allergies, who are guaranteed a peaceful night’s sleep at the Milano Scala. One whole floor of the hotel is completely hypoallergenic. “We comply with a European protocol as regards the choice of upholstery fabrics (for example, our mattress covers are made from a special cotton which is impermeable to any type of particle) and also in terms of our hypoallergenic room cleaning service, which takes about 40 minutes a day, double the amount of time employed for a standard room. Each room is steam sterilized at 160 degrees without the use of detergents. Once the room has been cleaned, a special machine releases ozone into the air to purify it. Therefore, each time a guest enters his or her room, it’s as if he or she were entering it for the first time,” adds the hotel manager. And the hotel’s attention to niche guests is also reflected in its gastronomic offerings which always include gluten and dairy-free options both at breakfast and other times of the day. “ Our La Traviata restaurant serves healthy dishes enhanced with original touches, with a nod to chromotherapy. For example? Our Risotto with asparagus and edible flowers,” explains Masi.
Let’s Go Glocal
The New York Times is not the only fan of the Milano Scala, and its green philosophy is also admired by its international clientele. “Eighty two percent of our guests are foreigners,” explains Faroldi. “Twenty percent of our clientele is French, followed by British, German, Chinese and American nationals. Until 2014, the majority of our clients were Russians, but they only represent 4% of the total. We have entered into partnership with the leaders in different markets, but have avoided teaming up with large international brands. For example, in Germany, we are affiliated with Green Pearls, a network of eco-sustainable hotels, while in France, we are associated with starred chef Paul Bocuse’s Chateaux et Hotels Collection.
As with most Milanese hotels, we have a high percentage of business clients in fashion, finance and banks, and they represent our main target market. Moreover, approximately 28% of our clientele are women, who choose us both on account of the ‘easy’, relaxed style that pervades each space, where the design is functional instead of being a detail associated with the ego of this or that architect, and our attention to light, healthy eating without sacrificing taste. For this reason, we like to define ourselves as ‘glocal’. We offer local cuisine based on home-grown products or products sourced from farms in the Ticino Park, i.e. located at a maximum distance of 60 kilometres, although our clientele is global.” On the other hand, the staff at Milano Scala is one hundred percent Italian and comprises 37 employees, 34 of whom are women, including Guest Assistant, Riva Zamero, named one of the nine best concierges in Milan in 2015, thanks to her consistent attention to even the simplest requests. In fact, the staff’s client-centric approach and five-star service (the Milano Scala is a four-star property) has earned the property’s staff an excellent web reputation. And apropos of the Internet, Milano Scala is present on the main social networks with a dedicated hashtag, #MilanoScala.
>> Official website: www.hotelmilanoscala.it
Article by Simona P.K. Daviddi
Translation by Carey Bernitz
Photos by Felice Lardieri