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The Straf, Milan 

Via San Raffaele 3
Tel: 39 2 805081
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From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:
The Zen-inspired Straf—slang for St. Rafael, the property's couldn't-be-better location—is about as minimalist as you can get and still have all the comforts of a fine hotel. Designer Vincenzo de Cotiis used industrial materials (concrete, metal, slate) in the 66 rooms, but gauzy linen throws and lots of mirrors soften the look. Wireless Internet access and flat-screen TVs provide entertainment, and the luxe accessories include plush bathrobes and Marie Danielle toiletries. The Straf's svelte black-clad staff are friendly and knowledgeable, and the adjoining Straf Bar is a popular place for fashionistas to stop for a light lunch or an aperitivo.—2005 Hot List

When to go: Avoid the worst-weather months (July, Aug., Dec., and Jan.).

Which room to book: One of two sixth-floor suites with a terrace overlooking the Duomo

Amenities: Bar/lounge, Gym

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