Your essential guides to Milan

Guide
Find your bearings

 

Although Paris and New York will offer counter-arguments, Milan can make a fair claim to being the planet's most fashionable city. Its streets are alive with chic boutiques and the offices of major haute couture labels. Mandarin Oriental, Milan exists perfectly in this world, slotted into the sophisticated Brera district of the historic centre. However, to talk of districts is to give a false impression. Although big in reputation, Milan is pleasingly compact of size. Exit the hotel, take a ten-minute walk south via Via Romagnosi and Via Alessandro Manzoni, and you will soon happen upon the Duomo – a glorious Gothic jewel, 14th century by birth, that stands tall as the world's third largest cathedral.

 

Feed your mind

 

As you might expect of a key Italian city, Milan is brimming with art. The Pinacoteca di Brera lies an easy five-minute stroll from the hotel. Here, you can lay your eyes on paintings by Italian masters such as Raphael, Andrea Mantegna and Guido Cagnacci. Speak to the hotel front desk to book a private tour. Not much further away – ten minutes walk to the east – the Galleria d'Arte Moderna keeps its focus closer to the present day, pointing you towards walls festooned with European works from the 18th to 20th centuries, including marvels by Van Gogh, Manet and Picasso.

 

Shop like a local

 

You could pass your entire stay in Milan indulging your impulse to shop. The city treats shopping as a religion, and you can worship at its main temple by entering the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II – a celebrated covered arcade, built between 1865 and 1877, where you can visit branches of Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton. Adjacent to this, La Rinascente is another Milanese shopping stalwart, a department store that opened in 1917. Also make some time to wander down Villa della Spiga – a pedestrianised strip with further genteel clothing outlets.
See some sights

 

Even if the queue outside is long (and it’s likely to be), don’t miss the Duomo, nor the 135 spires which rise from its roof. Equally iconic, the Teatro alla Scala is one of the true landmarks of opera (tickets can be booked via the concierge desk at Mandarin Oriental, Milan). You might also seek the Sforza Castle – built in the 15th century and once the home of the Dukes of Milan.

Toast your arrival

 

The city is blessed with many fine establishments where you can stretch out the evening, such as LùBar, which fits discreetly into the courtyard of the Galleria d'Arte Moderna.

Make time to unwind

Dine in style 

 

At the two-Michelin-starred Seta at Mandarin Oriental, Milan, exquisite food is prepared under the careful gaze of chef Antonio Guida. Here, you can sample delicacies such as spaghetti with cuttlefish, and risotto with oysters and sorrel. Beyond the hotel, consider dinner at Langosteria, a popular option in Milan with three intriguing venues around the city: a fine-dining restaurant, a bistro and a café. Or pause your shopping trip to eat at Il Salumaio di Montenapoleone – a hub of refined Italian fare in the heart of the fashion district.

Milan’s shopping hot spots

Drift into the past at Pasticceria Marchesi, a café just off Corso Magenta that was founded in 1824.