I emerge from the metro station Montenapoleone and the hotel entrance is just a few metres away. I'm met by a slick young doorman who takes my bag while I take the lift up to the lobby on the seventh floor. When I reach reception a staff member asks how my journey was, takes my ID and credit card, but then I'm surprised to be told to take a seat round the corner. I wait at least five minutes before asking to be checked in and when I question the delay the staff member apologises and says she was busy. It's fairly late in the evening, I'm tired, and I expected faster service or at least to be offered a drink while I'm waiting. It's also rather hot. I do, however, love the Bois d'Ensence fragrance from the Armani Privé collection.
The hotel is a 1930s building on Via Manzoni in the central-but-fashionable Brera district. There's a cathedral opposite and the street is studded with grand old palaces. Countless high-end boutiques line the surrounding streets and there is also an Armani mall on the ground floor. The Pinacoteca di Brera, Parco Sempione and the Duomo are within walking distance.
My room is a sixth floor "premium" room and I'm lucky to get one of the few rooms which have a small but very private outdoor terrace. The room is designed in classic Armani style, with matt shades of taupe and light grey. It's peaceful and feels more compact than it is. In fact, there is a spacious dressing area, a good-sized grey marble bathroom and a small lobby area with a sliding door which seals the bedroom from corridor noise. Unfortunately, the room is also too hot, at 25 degrees, and it takes all night for the temperature to come down to 22. As in the Dubai property, there are also three or four control panels for the lights which glow so brightly I am kept awake. Apparently other guests have also complained about this, and "Mr Armani" is working on a solution.
Staff at the reception areas always seem to be either on the phone or helping other guests. In Armani Ristorante, where I have dinner and breakfast, I'm dining alone and have to work hard to get the attention of staff. Housekeeping requests are fulfilled promptly, although the pillow selection is poor.
It's a Friday night, so I'm surprised that the bar and restaurant aren't busier. I find the Armani Caffé on the ground floor has much more atmosphere, but unfortunately it stops serving food at 9pm.
Having just completed a holiday in Italy and eaten fabulous food at very low prices, I'm a little taken aback if not entirely surprised at the high prices quoted in Armani Ristorante. I order the green asparagus risotto with monkfish and bergamot essence (30 euros; Dh142). The rice is pleasingly al dente with a good creamy sauce, but the piece of fish is small and I find the bergamot overpowering. A better option is the Armani Caffé, where pasta dishes are available from 10 euros (Dh47).
The spa on the eighth floor has great views over the city and the pool, though small, has a glass roof allowing you to watch the stars. I had a 50 minute signature massage (115 euros [Dh550]) with a Japanese therapist called Dai. The effect was so soothing it lasted until my arrival back in Abu Dhabi after an overnight flight.
The slow-to-respond aircon and glowing lights in the bedroom.
A very comfortable, well-located and well-turned-out property slighly let down by the service.
The bottom line
Double rooms at the Armani Hotel Milano, Via Manzoni 31, Milan (milan.armanihotels.com; 0039 02 8883 8888) cost from 495 euros (Dh2,355) per night, including taxes but excluding breakfast.