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Hotel Review: Santa Sofia Milan, Modern Luxury with Elegant Swag

This Radisson Collection Hotel, opened last spring, promises "elegant maximalism" in central Milan.

9:00 AM EST on January 2, 2024

The lobby of Santa Sofia Milan hotel.

The lobby of Santa Sofia Milan hotel.

Milan has historically been a pass-through city for me, a place I fly into for cheaper rates or to avoid transfers in godforsaken hell-ports like Charles de Gaulle. From Malpensa Airport, after an overnight flight, I typically take the train to the city center and catch an express rail to destinations south. But Appetito business recently brought me to Milan for a few nights, and when I travel, especially in an unfamiliar town, the hotel matters. A lot. I surveyed many of the Italian hospitality folks I know, and the overwhelming consensus was that I had to stay at the new Santa Sofia Milan (Radisson Collection Hotel). This is why you take the advice of pros.

The exterior of Santa Sofia Milan.
The exterior of Santa Sofia Milan.

THE STAY

Opened last spring and located in downtown Milan, an equal distance between Piazza del Duomo and the bumping Navigli canal district, the hotel is easy to reach from the train station via a 15-minute cab ride or even the Metro. What you will find upon arrival is an expansive corner building with a façade clad in pale volcanic rock with illuminated windows and a pitched, oxidized-copper roof. Very cool. Even cooler is the sleek, open lobby and reception area aglow with warm hospitality and modern lighting reflecting off marble floors of bold geometric patterns and shiny columns, muted walls hung with vintage art, and shelves adorned with eclectic touches. The interior spaces were created by Milanese designers AtelierP and Alessandro Cesario in a design aesthetic considered “elegant maximalism.” That sounds right.

Sofia Kitchen & Bar at Santa Sofia Milan.
Sofia Kitchen & Bar at Santa Sofia Milan.

The reception area opens to Sofia Kitchen & Bar, an all-day dining restaurant and lounge adorned in damask and oriental motifs with some art nouveau and modern objects thrown in to meet the eclectic criteria. It’s elegantly casual yet visually stimulating, devoid of the pitfall of pretense. Yeah, I spent some time there, and it felt as much as a meeting spot for Milanese as it did an accommodation for hotel guests. The food was very good, and — surprise, surprise — eclectic with an array of flavors and dishes from around Italy and greater Europe. The hip and horseshoe bar, with plush velvet stools, had extensive boozy offerings from around the globe with an emphasis on Milanese cocktail culture (which I really appreciated because I didn’t come to Milan to drink Riesling).

The seventh-floor terrace at Santa Sofia Milan.
The seventh-floor terrace at Santa Sofia Milan.

There’s a sprawling terrace on the fourth floor with an outdoor swimming pool and lounge bar area open during the warmer months. Also on this floor is a 24-hour fitness center, as well as a sauna available during the day and evening.

Another terrace, on the 7th floor, with panoramic views of Milan, serves as the outdoor area of ISSEI Rooftop, a fine-dining restaurant and bar specializing in Nikkei cuisine, a fusion of Japanese and Peruvian cuisines. Again, I didn’t come to Milan to eat fusion from other countries (or to eat outdoors in November), but the stylish interior, busy with funky yet elegant ambiance, made for a great place to take an aperitivo or digestivo.

My room, among 159 suites and rooms, was spacious and felt, as intended, like a “small, urban loft.” Very modern, full of warm colors and natural light from glass walls that faced the street with views of Milanese roof lines. Lots of amenities and swanky products. A big bathroom enclosed in glass. I could have hung out all morning in my soft bathrobe, sipping Nespresso, but the city called…

A junior suite at Santa Sofia Milan.
A junior suite at Santa Sofia Milan.

THE NEIGHBORHOOD

The surrounding neighborhood is alive but unfettered by tourism. At the intersection of Via Santa Sofia and Corso Italia, shopping abounds among the lively squares and venues for entertainment. Of historic value, local attractions include the ancient Roman Columns of San Lorenzo, Santa Maria dei Miracoli e San Celso church and Basilica di Sant'Eustorgio with their colorful frescoes. As mentioned, it’s an easy walk to the Duomo and spectacular Galleria (the Campari bar, Camparino in Galleria, is highly recommended) and the Navigli district with its restaurants, bars and nightlife on the banks for the canals.

THE PROS AND CONS

My little quips about the international aspects of the hotel gastronomy aside (it is Milan, after all), there is no downside to the Santa Sofia Milan. The hospitality, rooms, services, aesthetic, location, and amenities are 5-star in every respect.  

THE VERDICT

If you are excited, like I am, by luxury accommodations when traveling, the Santa Sofia Milan is your next stay in Milan. I’m especially fond of such places that feel modern and welcoming among the high aesthetic. The best hotel experiences are those where the stay is part of the travel, an aspect that enhances those journeys away from home in search of stimulation that excites our souls. Milan will no longer be strictly a fly-through city for me, and the Santa Sofia Milan will be my home away from home when I'm there.    


Rates from $324. Via Santa Sofia, 37, Milan, 20122, Italy, Radisson Collection Hotel, Santa Sofia Milan

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