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For art and fashion lovers seeking a chic city break, Milan offers the perfect mix of sights and activities, backed up by gorgeous architecture and delicious food.

Located within Italy’s Lombardy region, this northern cultural hub is easily accessible from major cities and promises to be a great addition to any European itinerary. Try visiting in winter to avoid some of the crowds and choose a hotel near a metro stop for easy commuting around the city.

Start your day Milanese style

For a truly authentic Milanese experience, make a special trip to one of the Marchesi 1824 pasticceria (pastry) shops. Exuding old-world glamour, each delightful store is brimming with sweet treats, including the famous Milanese panettone. Pop in for a stand-up coffee at the counter like the locals do, or relax in the seating areas to order off the menu. Head to Via Santa Maria alla Porta to see the original store, or to experience the decadence of the all-green dining room, visit the cafe located on exclusive shopping street, Via Monte Napoleone.

Marvel at The Last Supper

Adorning a refectory wall within the Basilica di Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Last Supper, painted by legendary Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci is undoubtedly a Milano must-see. Visitors are strictly limited (and visits are timed to 15 minutes) so be sure to book well in advance. Alternatively, consider booking as part of a guided tour to discover more about the details of the work and its conservation – definitely worth the extra cost.

Climb to the top of the Duomo

Alongside seeing The Last Supper, a visit to the Duomo di Milano should be at the top of your to-do list. Dating back to 1386, this majestic white marble cathedral was painstakingly constructed over several centuries, and now holds a commanding presence over the Piazza del Duomo.

Beat the queues by pre-booking a fast-pass ticket and ascend by lift or stairs to the top terraces and Duomo roof. Here you can admire the cathedral’s intricate sculptural embellishments up close and take in sweeping views of the city skyline. Next, descend back into the vast cathedral itself where incredible artworks and stained-glass windows await. Finally, be sure to visit the archaeological ruins beneath the cathedral and discover what was onsite before the duomo was built.

Get your fashion fix at Armani Silos

No visit to Milan would be complete without delving into the city’s internationally acclaimed fashion scene. So, set aside an afternoon to discover more about one of Italy’s most recognisable designers – Giorgio Armani.

Formerly used for food storage, Armani Silos is now a vast exhibition space, designed in Armani’s distinctive minimalist aesthetic. Permanently displaying hundreds of outfits and accessories from past Armani collections, it also hosts temporary exhibitions by guest artists and photographers.

Set across several levels, the exhibition is split into the major themes of Armani’s collections, including an entire floor dedicated to his signature androgynous style.

Pick up an audio guide to discover more about individual outfits in short snippets along the way – definitely a more enriching experience. Afterwards, make an espresso stop at the (naturally very stylish) cafe and pop in to the gallery shop to browse a curated edit of Armani products.

Dine along the Naviglio Grande Canal

For a leisurely afternoon or lively evening, hop on the metro to Naviglio Grande, one of the city’s canals. Enjoy taking a stroll along the promenade before stopping by one of the many waterfront bars and restaurants for an alfresco meal. Try Luca e Andrea for authentic Milanese cuisine served up by super-friendly staff. Top menu picks include the Milanese risotto, a buttery and saffron-infused take on the Italian favourite.

All images by Anika Reynolds

Schedule spa time at QC Termemilano

After a long day of exploring, retire to QC Termemilano for an evening of total relaxation. Formerly a tram station, it’s now a luxurious wellness spa comprising waterfall showers, steam rooms, hot spas and a tram carriage converted into an outdoor sauna. Book an early evening session to take advantage of the happy hour package in the dining room before heading to the outdoor pools to soak under the stars – bliss.

Ms Zebra: There is a wonderful vibe to Milan! Thanks for sharing these great tips to make the most of your time in the beautiful city!

About Anika Reynolds: I’m a freelance writer with a love of weddings and creatively styled events. I have a penchant for pretty stationery and perfectly put together cheese plates, and a never-ending sense of wanderlust!

Polka Dot Honeymoons Directory Mid Banner

Pomp and circumstance often comes with checking into a grand hotel. There are serious nods of the head, clipped sentences, and an atmosphere that says please don’t giggle or act anything less than serious. Something about a grand hotel makes you stand to attention, even when you know you’re just one of many hundreds, if not thousands of people to cross that threshold every day. When it comes to a wedding day or pre-wedding celebrations, the idea of checking in somewhere can be intimidating. That comfort of home, on the craziest of times in our life, is something that we can so desperately crave.

Through Hotels.com we discovered The Lyall Hotel and headed off for a quick overnight stay at the boutique, five-star hotel. We were interested to see whether an old favourite for many, and a hotel that takes prides itself on not just personal, but comfortable, service really stood up against the bigger counterparts. Whether this ease could bring something different to a girls’ weekend, or a romantic night away, a wedding day morning, or even a wedding night where the atmosphere is of utmost importance.

From the minute we pulled up on the tree-lined street in Melbourne’s leafy South Yarra, and were greeted on the road by a dapper chap who offered to take our bags and move our car, I knew that we wouldn’t be lost in a crowd.

The Lyall Hotel is a privately owned hotel, and it’s this that is enchanting because before we’re even on the way to our room, we’re greeted by cozy lounge areas (complete with fireplaces) shelves stocked with books you can pick up and borrow, intimate bars and fresh oriental blooms. We’re even treated to a grand bowl of jellybeans as a welcome treat.

This hotel never pretended to be big and grand, because their focus, on boutique luxury and the comfort it brings (known as their signature “Lyall style”) is all that they care for.

This comfortable, “at home” vibe continues throughout the hotel. Each floor is dotted with lounge areas, crackling fires and beautiful, grand art pieces, from the owner’s own collection – these are designed to, well, make it feel just like home. Guests are treated like friends at every corner – a VIP shopping card with discounts for the local boutiques, a list of the owner’s favourite local restaurants, bikes you can spend the day on, offers to grocery shop and fill your pantry, to arrange a car, or even a babysitter.

Our room is compact but packed with amenity. Free wifi, a full kitchen, with dishwasher, microwave, oven, washing machine, large fridge,  coffee machine and well stocked mini bar (right down to mini ice cream tubs for midnight snacks and bottles of bubbles for your wedding day prep). The rooms just make sense for longer staycations or pre-wedding getting ready stays. The adjoining lounge and dining area has plenty of seating for a bridal party or spending a week as two. Separately, a bedroom with king sized bed and its own TV sits next to a marble-clad bathroom, complete with double shower heads, soft fluffy robes and its own bath (and another TV!).

 
 

You’d be mistaken for thinking we were upgraded at The Lyall Hotel, but no, a suite such as this is a standard here. The decor is chic black, gold and cream with an oriental edge gives that well-styled home vibe. The balcony setting the most blissful way to enjoy the sunshine, get some fresh air and pretend you’re not in suburban Melbourne, perhaps rather in a European street.

Completely famished after exploring every corner of the hotel, we head to the Lyall hotel bar to fill our bellies. The intimate space greets guests with a cooked breakfast (also available delivered to your room for no extra charge), light fare throughout the day and transforms to a champagne bar (French champagne by the glass anyone?)  after dark – the open terrace under the trees, the prime position. The Lyall, as it turns out is famous for its chicken sandwiches, and the creamy decadent delights go down a treat, freshly made to order.

This is the Lyall, where unwinding, is as easy as being a part of the action. Renting a movie from the hotel’s library for those who prefer the quiet, or walking thirty seconds to the hustle & bustle of Toorak Road’s shops for a little more action. Choosing the former, we settle in with a glass of bubbles and catch up on our favourite TV shows, before we dress in our finest and wander downstairs. The now transformed Champagne bar serves us the signature Lyall champagne cocktail along with a range of olives and nuts. This merry blend of champagne, Cointreau and cranberry juice is the most blissful way to start our evening. As it turns out, this makes the most of the Lyall’s close to everything vibes, because across the road, is our destination.

After a quick scout online Cucinetta, a tiny 20 seat Italian restaurant takes our fancy. This is a place where the menu changes weekly, the waiters engage you with tales of home, where they make their own pasta and serves up wine in glasses quite literally as big as your head. It’s this intimate, Italian charm that, gives our weekend staycation its own kind of special local flavour. Another hop, skip and a jump are old favourites Da Noi, and France Soir. One could easily dine on the very best cuisine, at a different venue each night without ever walking more than a few minutes.

And after a quiet, comfortable night (the hotel’s blackout curtains, comfy king-sized bed and pillow menu ticking all the boxes) we wander bleary-eyed down to the bistro for a hot, cooked breakfast and fresh coffee. The staff attentive, and quietly reserved, respecting their guests own pre-caffeinated minds as they bustle about serving up a la carte fare. Our pick of the omelette complete with delicious oven roasted tomatoes and brie goes down a treat.

We have one last stop before we check out and we plan to make the most of it. We head, to the deep corners of the hotel, for a spot at the Spa where the team have booked us in for a treat.

Designed with a holistic approach in mind, the Lyall Spa uses Australian born, organic Sodashi products, and it brings to life the intimate Lyall charm, with just eight treatment rooms. I set off for a facial, while my husband opts for a massage. The darkened rooms and our therapists gently guiding us to prepare for our treatments. For me, I’m treated to a Sodashi pure radiance facial that leads me off to dreamland. What follows is an hour of foot massages, warm compresses, masks and massages that have such a great result I’m asked twice in the next two weeks what makeup I am wearing, only to actually be completely barefaced. My husband, who opts for a massage, walks out looking slightly dazed. His hour was spent releasing a year’s worth of work stress and soreness, stretching and easing each joint. We both stare at each other in a happy, blissed out space, with freshly brewed herbal tea as we try to ease ourselves back into the day.

As we wander to our room and begin to check out, there is a sadness that washes over us. It feels like we’re leaving much more than simply a place to rest our heads.

And it’s this that really brings to light where The Lyall Hotel shines. Especially as the place for all things wedding. Unlike big-city counterparts where you are just one of the hundreds, the Lyall allows you to, well, be you. You’re greeted by name. The team scurrying to attend to your every need. The cozy corners, the amenity, the service all add up to something that ensures it becomes something of an old favourite. A place to return to again and again (and it is exactly that for many of their guests). The transformative, welcoming space, and attentive service just as comforting for a girls’ weekend of pre-wedding celebration, as it is for a wedding day morning full of hustle and bustle. And for a local honeymoon? Pack your bags, stock the fridge and pop the bubbles, because, this place feels like the very best version of home.

Polka Dot Bride stayed at The Lyall Hotel as a guest of The Lyall Hotel for editorial consideration in accordance with our disclosure policy.

 

Tasmania – Image via In a Faraway Land

There’s a lot to consider when planning a honeymoon: where to go, how long for and how far in advance should you book? Unfortunately, Google and all the wedding apps in the world couldn’t give us real world advice or answer any of our questions. So, we’ve done this for you! Meet our recent newlyweds, Jess, Nikaela and Mim who have shared some tips with us on all things honeymoon. Jess and her partner Dom adventured around Tasmania for their honeymoon, Nikaela and Todd relaxed in Airlie Beach whilst Mim and Justin picked sunny Hamilton Island for their honeymoon. All completely different experiences but their advice applies to any type of honeymoon.

Nikaela and Todd – image via Mel Hill Photography 

Where was your honeymoon?

Jess: Adventure around Tasmania – road trip to Pumphouse Point, which is a beautiful old pumphouse in the middle of Australia’s deepest lake which has been converted into beautiful suites. We spent time out on the lake and in the shore house. We particularly loved the shared dinners every night with delicious local food and wine. After a few days we headed back to Hobart where we rented a beautiful Air BnB townhouse in the middle of the city.

Nikaela: Airlie Beach!

Mim: I’m a teacher, so to take a big trip during term time it is unpaid leave. We decided to go on a small trip straight after our wedding (which was a week off school) and we are leaving for a 3 week trip to Europe on the 23rd of December this year. We went to Hamilton Island and stayed at the Beach Club for 4 days. We booked a deal through the website which included a Reef tour. Justin and I enjoyed ourselves SO much. We couldn’t have been happier relaxing in island life and rave about it to anyone and everyone. We went the first week of May so it was reasonably quiet too.

Mim and Justin – Hamilton Island 

Why did you pick this destination?

Jess: We knew we didn’t have much time to dedicate to our honeymoon so we wanted to go somewhere with beautiful scenery within Australia, where we could do as much relaxing or adventuring as we felt like.

Jess and Dom image via Keepsake Photography

Nikaela: We live in Canberra and wanted a hot destination within Australia. Airlie Beach was hit by a cyclone a few years ago and we wanted to spend some time up there and help the locals.

Mim: It was on my bucket list to see the Reef.

How far in advance would you recommend booking a honeymoon?

Jess: We booked ours approximately 4 months before the honeymoon.

Nikaela: We booked it 8 months in advance. We saw some flights on sale and thought it was a great destination – it was a very spontaneous decision. We recommend signing up to receive flight specials and book in advance as you can save some extra money

Mim: We booked quite close to the date but the more organised you are the more money you’ll save (particularly with flights). We booked our Europe adventure in September and have paid a fortune for flights because we’re going over Christmas.

What activities would you recommend doing on a honeymoon? Was there one that stood out to you?

Jess: We loved just spending time together. Because of where we chose, we loved going on walks and drives, visiting iconic locations and indulging in fresh produce such as cheeses, meats and breads. I particularly enjoyed visiting the local markets and exploring the local area.

Nikaela: We enjoyed swimming in the lagoon and relaxing by the beach. We had a very relaxing honeymoon. We didn’t book any activities until we were there, such as snorkeling or day trips.

Mim: Relaxing. We were absolutely frantic leading up to the wedding, it was pure bliss to do NOTHING for the first day. After that we chose activities that we felt were in our budget, but we were mostly guided by ‘would we regret it if we don’t do it?’ We did a helicopter ride, but rather than a really long one we chose a shorter one to gauge whether we enjoyed it.

Mim and Justin – Hamilton Island 
How long after the wedding would you recommend leaving for your honeymoon?

Jess: We left immediately after our wedding (2 days after) which worked for us because we weren’t travelling far. It also kept up our excitement levels up and continued our celebration following our wedding.

Nikaela: We left 10 days after our wedding, it gave us a chance to say goodbye to interstate family and friends and return anything we hired.

Mim: Having a spare day in between really suited us. We did a lot of wedding prep ourselves so if we left the next day, I would have been panicking about stuff.

Nikaela and Todd – Image via Mel Hill Photography

Knowing what you know now is there anything you would have done differently?

Jess: No way! Our day was perfect and our honeymoon complemented it so nicely!

Jess and Dom image via Keepsake Photography

Nikaela: We really enjoyed our honeymoon, and wouldn’t change anything, we spent a week at Airlie Beach, it was a time where we could fully relax and enjoy being each others Husband and Wife.

Mim: I would have stayed at Hamilton island longer!

Is there any advice or recommendations that you wish to pass on?

Jess: Choose a honeymoon that suits you and your partner’s personality. Do you want to relax? Do you want to adventure? What is the best way you’d like to spend time with your new husband/wife? Do that!

Nikaela: We turned our phones off for most of our honeymoon, we took the occasional snap and posted it on social media, however it was lovely just being with each other and disconnecting from technology.

Mim: So many family and friends have advice which we took on board. At the end of the day you’ve got to do your own research to find what suits you.

Ms Zebra Says: We can’t thank our newlywed bride’s enough for sharing their insider knowledge and destinations! With all the wedding planning, a holiday may seem like the LAST thing to think about. Here’s to choosing a fab location to holiday as newlyweds!