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The Gray, Milan 

6 Via San Raffaele
Italy 20121
Tel: 39 02 720 8951
view web site ›'s insider take:

This madly modern 21-room hotel opposite the historic Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II mall, hard by the shopping on Via Montenapoleone, opened in mid-2003, setting its cap for the fashion elite. Styled by Guido Ciompi, designer of Gucci boutiques worldwide, the Gray puts its cards on the table as soon as you walk into the small, hushed lobby: A fuchsia daybed is suspended on 12-foot ropes over a polished black Makassar floor next to a textured concrete wall. Further wild effects enliven the guest rooms, each one different from the last—materials such as white ostrich leather, crocodile, steel, and travertine; a duplex suite whose upper floor is accessed by a staircase of iron parallelogram boxes bolted invisibly to the wall; two suites with a private gym (the only workout equipment in the house); three more with giant round Jacuzzis with mini–plasma TVs in the rims. Somehow, though, the net result is playfully chic rather than chaotic, so it's no surprise the Gray kicked off the Milanese trend for high-concept design-centric hotels. The only downside is the lack of public spaces: There's room for a hip mezzanine restaurant, Le Noir, that doubles as the breakfast room, and a tiny bar off the lobby—and that's about it. Guests can use the spa at the nearby Hotel de la Ville (6 Via Hoepli; 39-02-879-1311;

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