The gal continues her quest, at Milan’s luxury Principe di Savoia hotel, to identify what makes Italy unique. There is a certain amount of whimsy. Look through the hotel’s private dining menu – yes, thoughtfully it still has a proper printed menu rather than expecting you to flip through something online – and you see the kids’ section, charmingly illustrated. There are also Chinese dishes, a reminder that the hotel works with David Tang when it comes to attracting Chinese visitors. What do they want and what do they not want? Principe di Savoia boss Ezio Indiani is a highly experienced pro when it comes to thoughtfulness. He started his career working in his mother’s alcohol-free snack bar after school and he soon learned that anticipating customers’ needs meant bigger tips.
Italy’s hotels do have the knack of switching elegant dinner venues into equally suitable breakfast places. Last night I asked chef Fabrizio Cadei, who used to work at what is now One&Only Hayman Island, what he had for breakfast. His answer was not the half-dozen lamb cutlets that I had when I first went to Australia a few years ago but, more healthily, porridge with yoghurt, honey, apple, banana and strawberries. My breakfast here, interestingly, included French L’Echiré butters and French jams, namely Andresy’s A L’Ancienne. Breakfast’s grey and white china is from Luxembourg (Villeroy & Boch) but last night’s Limoges, by Delhoulières, is also French, of course. Wonder what Mr Renzi would think of that?
Ezio Indiani, as an Italian, finds an inherent passion for food and ingredients part of his professional DNA. He actually worked his way up the restaurant ladder, in such other great hotels as Atlantic Kempinski Hamburg, Bayerischerhof Munich, London Hilton on Park Lane, Caso de Campo, The Hyde Park Hotel, under Paolo Biscioni, until he was transferred as GM by Forte, to its then-Rome hotel, The Eden, and on to its then-Geneva property, Hôtel des Bergues. After that he went to Villa d’Este on Lake Como before coming here, for the Dorchester Collection. But a food professional never truly loses his passion for making others happy via food and wine (he has a very skilled lady sommelier here, by the way, Alessandra Veronesi).
Celeste dell’Anna, who had designed Acanto restaurant, also did suite 637, one of four 1,700 sq ft art suites. Describing it simply and succinctly is impossible, but let me just say the minibar is in a glass-lined alligator-covered standing travelling trunk. There is masses of highly-lacquered veneer, in Art Deco style, and heavy gold-framed wall art is a local blend of Cézanne meets Picasso. Amazingly, it does all work, and the result is an oh-so-Italian luxury hotel.