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Hotel Review: Casa Brivio in Milan, a Stylish Escape

This new lodging option in the heart of Milan is a design enthusiast’s dream, with custom interiors and designs by Matteo Thun & Partners and Cassina.

Casa Brivio room

A room at Casa Brivio in Milan. Photo: Marco Bertolini

Italian design is often a show-stopper, whether it’s the sleek lines of a Ferrari sports car or the bold patterns of a Dolce & Gabbana dress. But there’s also a more subdued side, which is what I’ve always preferred, where sophistication and artfulness find a happy medium. Such is the case at Casa Brivio, a new lodging option in central Milan, where it’s possible to escape into a stark wonderland of Italian design and style a short walk from the bustle of the famed Duomo.

It’s important to note that this is not a full-service hotel—hence the “Casa,” which is like a code word in Italy for a place to stay with limited amenities. It is therefore not for the type of traveler who expects room service or on-site dining and plenty of common space; however, sometimes it's better to slip into a world where you can live like a local, in this case a Milanese resident with exquisite taste.

Reception at Casa Brivio
The reception area at Casa Brivio. Photo: Marco Bertolini

THE STAY

My weekend stay in late November 2023, just weeks after Casa Brivio had hosted its first guests, started when I entered a courtyard through an open gate and saw a glassed-in reception area with eye-catching furnishings and design. The geometric ceiling pays homage to Italian design maestro Gio Ponti, while the desk, chair, and speckled terrazzo flooring showcase suave Milanese 20th century design. Milan-based architects Matteo Thun & Partners and Cassina Customs Interiors make a formidable duo, and their work in the reception is a sign of what’s to come.

From there, a young man led me across the courtyard to an adjacent structure, explaining the building and room access—via a code or magnetic card. Once inside, he pointed out the stunning spiral staircase and Murano glass lighting fixtures, and recounted the building’s history: originally built in the 15th Century, bombed into near-oblivion during World War 2. The wing of the building that now houses Casa Brivia’s 16 rooms and suites was renovated in 1972 in a rationalist style, with owners Filippo and Alberico Brivio Sforza, undertaking a comprehensive update in 2022 before opening in late 2023. There’s a small elevator typical of European residential buildings, though it’s hard to resist a stroll on the staircase, which I used throughout my stay rather than squeeze into the lift. 

Bedroom at Casa Brivio
A Cozy Room bed at Casa Brivio. Photo: Marco Bertolini

I stayed in one of the cozy rooms—the other options are either a corner or junior suite—looking out onto the quiet Via Cornaggia from the second floor (that’s the third story to us Yanks). As with the reception, the décor here is stunning, with a green velvet headboard and rounded green side tables; gold-colored sconces provide gentle bedside lighting. The Cassina Custom Interiors-designed space offers the type of understated Italian luxury that I adore. 

The surprisingly spacious bath area included a bidet, plush robes, terrazzo floors, and aromatic grooming products from Milan-based fragrance brand Culti

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

As you’ve guessed by now, there’s no restaurant on-site at Casa Brivio. A five-minute walk in any direction, however, yields everything from charming cafés to world-class dining. The helpful man who showed me around upon my arrival asked if I’d like his recommendations and then sent me a WhatsApp message with a list of more than a dozen restaurants and wine bars with descriptions, as well as sightseeing experiences such as Galleria Vittoria Emanuele, the canal-lined Navigli district, museums, and more.

The Duomo is 10 minutes away on foot, and there are endless stores lining the Corso Italia, including stretches with high-end boutiques as well as streetwear and shoe shops, and specialty food markets.

Peck market in Milan
Peck's flagship location in Milan. Photo: Richard Martin

There are better neighborhoods in Milan for nightlife, including the aforementioned Navigli, but dining options within a 20-minute radius of Casa Brivio are exceptional. I met a friend on Friday night to try the pizza tasting at top-rated Confine, ate a four-course menu of creatively-designed pizzas and calzone paired with excellent wines such as a 2021 pinot noir from Alto Adige, St. MIchael-Eppan, then walked back to the Casa in less than 10 minutes. I also spent part of an afternoon touring local food markets including the sprawling flagship location of Peck, where you can browse the lovely seasonal produce, grab a cornetto and caffè, or pick up dried pasta to bring home as a souvenir; it was practically around the corner. 

THE PROS AND CONS

Let’s start with the cons: The only experience at Casa Brivio that unsettled me was not being able to open my door with the code or keycard the first time I returned from an excursion. With no front desk to return to—the reception area is usually unoccupied—I used Whatsapp and got a call back quickly, as well as a visit from the same man from reception, who jostled the door ajar and explained that it sometimes sticks.

spiral staircase
Spiral staircase featuring a Murano glass lamp. Photo: Richard Martin

Otherwise, the pros far outweigh the cons by a long shot. I enjoyed exploring the area around the Casa and even took advantage of Milan’s metro; there are several stations nearby. The feeling of returning back to my stylish, low-key environs truly made it feel like a home-away-from-home. And for non-full service lodging, I found the hospitality welcoming and there when I needed it. I also loved the architectural features, from the spiral staircase to surprises such as a cut-out in the façade with an iron structure inside it.

decorative facade
A detail from the façade at Casa Brivio. Photo: Richard Martin

THE VERDICT

Throughout my stay, I felt fortunate to be at Casa Brivio and couldn’t help thinking how much more rooms will cost here during Milan’s signature events such as its Fashion Weeks and Salone del Mobile/Design Week. I’m sure that the fashion-and-design-savvy jet set will soon have this place on their radar, if they don’t already. For a low-key yet luxurious experience, a contrast to Milan’s more palatial hotel options—exceptional as they may be—Casa Brivio is brilliant. 


Rates from 380€, Via Carlo Ottavio Cornaggia, 12, 20123 Milano MI, Italy, casabrivio.com

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