Normally, I do my research when it comes to hotels, restaurants, and bars. This trip was no exception. The hotel options in Milan are vast and overwhelming. I understand that the next statement may make me sound a little crazy, but I made a list of about 20 hotels and started looking them up one by one to compare price, location, and overall esthetic/decor. There is a very wide spectrum of prices and certainly no lack of luxury hotels. Initially, I was rather focused on staying near the Duomo. Please don’t make this mistake. In the end, we stayed at the Westin Palace Milan (which is not near the Duomo) and it turned out to be a fantastic decision for a number of reasons. See more information below about the hotel and the restaurants/bars we tried while on our trip.
Typically, during a trip, I usually make about one to two dinner reservations. This particular trip, I did not make any reservations for our stay in Milan. I felt we were able to enjoy the places below either without reservation, or we were able to make a reservation the day prior without any problem.
1. The Westin Palace Milan. This hotel is located near Central Station. You can walk out the front door and be in the subway station with a very short walk (1-2 minutes). The subway system in Milan is very user friendly. We purchased a three day pass for the subway and utilized it to maximize our money spent. Definitely worth it! My suggestion would be to stay at a hotel with easy access to the subway system. It was raining several days and this really turned out to be a great location. This hotel also has a lot of really great restaurants within walking distance. The price we received for a Junior Suite was really fantastic, and the room was absolutely huge. It is also nice to be able to utilize the AAA or government rate if you can.
2. Dry Milano. This is a pizza bar that we went to our first night in Milan. It was within walking distance of the hotel. The place was packed and clearly a hotspot for a young and trendy crowd. The cocktails and atmosphere were good. We tried a pizza and salad here. Overall, I was happy with Dry. It is certainly nothing memorable, but it is a solid option and clearly popular for locals.
3. La Societa Milano. This was probably my favorite dinner in Milan. We walked by this restaurant two nights in a row, and it was absolutely packed. When we went on Sunday night, the crowd was much lighter. Keep in mind opening hours/days of restaurants. A number of places are closed on either Sunday or Monday evening. The menu at La Societa does change. However, I do not think that you can go wrong with any of their dishes. Also, the service that we received here was fantastic.
4. Bicerin Milano. This is a wine bar that we happened upon on our walk to a cocktail bar. It is on the same street as La Societa. Again, we walked by it several evenings and the place was packed. The last evening in Milan, we decided to try it. The tables here are cozy, and the atmosphere is fantastic. We started out with a cheese plate and a glass of bubbles. The pace here was great, and we never felt rushed. The waiter had great recommendations for us as far as the wines. This was the first time that I had orange wine. All of the food that we tried was great with the exception of the cod. I ordered this as my entree, and I just did not enjoy it. Despite my poor entree, I honestly really liked everything else about this restaurant. I would return on another visit to Milan, but I would never order the cod again.
5. Barba. One of my favorite things is enjoying a craft cocktail. Milan has many bars to choose from. Our first night in Milan we tried Barba, which was within walking distance of the hotel. They present you with a menu on a Vinyl record, which I thought was very unique. The menu is not overwhelming as far as options, which can be nice. My cocktail was very tasty. This bar is from the same owners as a place called MAG cafe. It seems that they have several bars throughout Milan. All of their establishments looked fantastic online. Evidently, they also have a secret small speakeasy as well … however, it is by invite only. They do not release the location of it online. Quite intriguing!
6. Eccellenze Campane Milano. This was another lunch spot that we stumbled across. It is across the street from the Golden Goose store. They had a wonderful meat and cheese board, and I had the gnocchi for my entree. This was the only place we went that the menu was only provided in Italian. Our waiter spoke very little English, so we made some guesses on our order. We downloaded google translate in Italian to our phones ahead of time which helped to make things a little easier. I should never be critical of this because I certainly am not fluent in another language, but this is just a consideration. The menu was easy to navigate even in Italian, and we had a great lunch.
7. De Santis. Go here for lunch! This place is a hole in the wall wonderful sandwich shop. I randomly found it on the internet. It is very “cozy” and you may have to wait for a seat. They served absolutely everything that I love including a fantastic sandwich, cocktails if you desire, and also soft drinks/water. I enjoyed it so much that I was ready to return another day prior to leaving Milan. I just loved this place!