Fancy something a little different in the way of accommodation for your next Milan trip, something other than the prefabricated feel of even some of the luxury chain hotels (where no natural light or unconditioned air shall penetrate…)? Antica Locanda dei Mercanti takes a little finding, tucked away as it is on the upper floors of a townhouse in a quiet side street with barely a sign outside, but it’s quite a find when you do. A boutique sort of establishment, with 15 rooms devised by architect-designer Vittorio Locatelli in an 18th-century setting, it deserves every point of its 4 stars. And it’s so central that a 15-minute stroll will take you well beyond the Duomo or La Scala, up into Brera or across to the fashion district, or right up to the ticket counters of several of the best museums and galleries. Back inside, the Antica Locanda is surprisingly quiet, light and airy, and wonderfully restful. Standard double rooms are superior, and then there are spacious suites each with a living area and 4 rooms which actually have private terraces teeming with flowering plants. No two are the same, of course, this being a designer renovation of spaces dating back to the 1700s, each modified and appointed on the basis of existing characteristics.
Overall, though, light colours predominate, furnishings are a smart mix of contemporary and antique, floors are in pale hardwood, graniglia-tiled or carpeted, linens are lovely and bathrooms feature marble. The feeling is refined but relaxed, home-from-home, very pleasing. All the rooms and suites are accessed from the building’s main stairs (or the lift), since Antica Locanda dei Mercanti doesn’t have its own, separate entrance or lobby, or indeed any common area other than reception (24/7 and offering all the services you’d expect, however). Breakfasts, therefore, simple but nicely done, are brought to your room.