NYX Milan x Leonardo Hotels
7th April, 2017
For seasoned travellers and voyaging neophytes alike, the ideal city accommodation fulfils one concrete purpose: to serve as a clean, comfortable base from which the surrounding spoils of one's chosen destination can be explored. But when a hotel's contents prove so enticing that not even the lure of nearby landmarks or shopping districts can distract incoming visitors, its ranking ventures far beyond merely a hospitable place to rest one's head.
Having opened its technicoloured doors to the public six weeks ago, NYX Milan is the first of its boutique-hotel chain to charter European territory, with two offshoots in Prague and Madrid set to follow in its footsteps later this year. A kaleidoscopic fusion of expressive artworks, fashion-driven room furnishings, timelessly-quirky design and gourmet dining readily disguises its "newborn" status. No small feat, considering its bustling location of choice - standing proudly opposite Stazione Centrale and its caramel-milk facade, amongst a sea of hospitality veterans flanking all sides of the station. Yet the moment potential guests walk through NYX Milan's vivid entrance - the steps of which feature two gold-encased statues, their privates covered with an exotic leaf - it becomes instantly apparent that any neighbouring high-rise hotels (and their copy-and-paste interiors) are about to be blown straight out of the water:
Colourfully merging two central themes of Video Art and Street Art - the latter celebrating an abundance of artistic talents roaming the city - visual idiosyncrasies are prevalent across the hotel's eleven floors. Comical yet unfalteringly tasteful works characterise the art-filled lobby; the results of careful curation by Iris Barak and Daniele Decia, the creative force behind Milanese art gallery Question Mark. That same dynamic duo are to thank for giving modern street-art murals, in all their Instagram-famous vibrancy, entirely new connotations. Plucking a host of internationally-acclaimed creatives from nearby avenues and commissioning them to unleash their outdoor world in an indoor space, each floor boasts an utterly distinctive, eye-catching mural conjured up by a Italian street artist:
Floor #7 - Joys
Floor #10 - SKAN
Floor #5 - Yama 11
Floor #2 - Corn 79
From ethereal dreamscapes to colour-popping geometric designs, each showcased artwork is more imaginative than the next. Best accessed through the main entrance elevators - the only set which opens straight onto each mural - the walls of connecting corridors are peppered with an eclectic, framed selection of independent-film posters and inventive prints. Those with a head for heights can marvel at the city skyline via the 11th, 6th and 5th floors, where the "Sky", "Classy" and "Sassy" rooftop terraces are respectively found. The latter two are currently in development to host a variety of future events - an outdoor cinema feature is potentially in the pipeline - with more to be revealed once the summer season rolls around.
With such multi-hued artistry holding court outside the hotel rooms, you'd forgive the lead interior designer, Andreas Neudahm, for having fully expended his creative energy - but stepping into one of the serene "Little Star" rooms quickly proves otherwise. Colour accents that harmonise, rather than overpower, are juxtaposed with black-and-white portraits of Gina Lollobrigida and Claudia Cardinale; Italian movie stars captured by Helmut Newton in a previously-unreleased collection of prints. The mini bar is generously stocked with suitably colourful snacks - think rainbow chocolate peanuts and a fittingly dubbed "Sassy Mix" of savoury eats - while the streamlined bathroom and sumptuous, cloud-esque bed make for a welcoming place to re-charge batteries. Our fifth-floor room faced onto the inner courtyard and open-plan bar (to be revealed below), with subtle emerald-green lights - edging the top of semi-sheer curtains like luminous piping - adding yet another layer of trend-setting detail. At 15-18 sqm, the "Little Star" rooms may come in at the smallest of all four options (the largest being the expansive 60sqm "Heaven Suite", replete with balcony views across the Italian metropolis) but there's more than enough space to stretch out and even set up a work station by the provided desk area.
After this all-encompassing embrace of street art, offering a gourmet homage to street food feels like a natural transition. Such is the mindset of NYX Milan's "Clash" restaurant, the route to which snakes through the NYX bar (an opulent space that was brimming with aperitivi platters upon our 7:30pm arrival) and its aforementioned courtyard/patio, decorated in electric hues with flashes of mural art by Orion, Joys, Yama 11 and Peeta (joining forces as Milan's "EAD" street-art crew). Colourful contrasts were in full display, alongside a quality-driven emphasis on Made In Italy - from the striking wall art to the decadent, texture-rich furnishings, many of which were crafted as bespoke pieces through an exclusive partnership with B&B Italia. Throw in a number of old-school video-game machines that would slot seamlessly into an Alessandro Michele x Glen Luchford campaign, and the setting is complete:
The plush surroundings of "Clash" emulate a rooftop restaurant in the most stylish means imaginable. Additional fashion-photography prints adorn one cocoa-brown wall, while inside windows look out to sun-scorched skies and the shadows of Milan's iconic buildings (artwork rather than reality - but it least it guarantees a perpetually vivid sunset). The menu offerings are unsurprisingly diverse (so too is the high-calibre wine list), with experimental flavour pairings that seriously pack a punch. The aubergine falafel with crunchy pitta bread is undoubtedly a must-try, while our fava-bean tacos with asparagi e pomodori ended up stealing the show. Case in point: they were presented in such a mouth-watering manner that stopping to snap a photo was simply not an option! For those of you that also enjoy their chipped potatoes as chunky as possible, they certainly won't disappoint - while the sweet potato fires are made satisfyingly skinny. After-dinner drinks are soundtracked by a live DJ and accompanied by an abundance of savoury nibbles - if it wasn't already obvious, nothing is done by NYX in half-measures.
Floor #6 - Orion
In a design capital renowned for its unhampered creativity, relentless innovation and an electrifying zest for life, NYX Milan captures the city's essence with inimitable flair. The free room wifi was faultless, while each staff member I encountered was nothing short of engaging and friendly; keen to show visitors an authentic, pulsating Milan beyond the trappings of tourist hot-spots. It's little wonder that its individualistic clientele includes a notable percentage of locals, who have adopted its bar scene as their brand-new locale. With its 2 minute walking distance from Stazione Centrale and, by extension, its natural connection to all sections of Milan - a godsend for fashion-week goers and, in present news, Salone Del Mobile attendees - it's impossible to imagine a more colourful perch to fully relish the city.
NYX Milan, Piazza Quattro Novembre, 3, offers double rooms starting from about €150 per person sharing (off-peak rates). An extensive buffet breakfast (which, due to a very early morning flight, we didn't get to indulge in) is served from 7-10:30am, while "Clash" restaurant opens from 12-2:30pm and from 7-10:30pm. Room service is offered 24/7. Full details on the hotel and its amenities can be found by clicking "here".