It’s that time of year again! Fashion month is officially upon us, with the reliable pack of editors, buyers, and stylists making their biannual pilgrimage to the shows in London, Milan, and Paris after having kicked things off in New York. Glamorous as it may seem, the itineraries are packed, making those rare moments for venturing off the beaten path and discovering under-the-radar spots or talents even more precious. Sure, you could do the legwork yourself, but why not streamline things? Enter Bulgari Hotels. Yes, that Bulgari. Think about it: who better than a luxury brand to source the best of the best in terms of food, retail, and unique experiences you won’t find anywhere else (not to mention the unrivaled Italian hospitality)?
I began my journey at Bulgari’s property in London’s Knightsbridge neighborhood, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this month with a collaboration with British-Nigerian art world darling Yinka Ilori. Asked to reinterpret the afternoon tea stand as a sculptural art work, Ilori devised a series of kaleidoscopic interlocking spheres for which award-winning Italian pastry chef and chocolatier-in-residence Gianluca Fausto has created a selection of candy-colored treats that are undoubtedly the most fashionable sweets around (you can even get the look at home with these napkins). It’s the perfect pick-me-up after indulging in some retail therapy at nearby Harrods or Harvey Nichols, or taking a private cruise on the River Thames with an Oxbridge-educated historian as your guide. (Why not?)
After dropping off your bags in your nautical-inspired room (the sleek, dark woods make the space feel more in line with the interior of a yacht, and are a perfect nod to Britain’s maritime heritage), the hotel’s spa is the perfect spot to unwind in the bustling capital. After the treatment of your choice, you’re encouraged to linger and sip tea in the zen-like relaxation room complete with a crackling fire. For the ultimate nightcap, reserve the private cinema for your own film screening. La Dolce Vita, perhaps?
After arriving in Paris by train, why not start the day with the most elevated, literally, breakfast in town atop the Arc de Triomph? Only the Bulgari makes it possible. Maybe it’s the unobstructed Parisian views, but the crêpes and croissants taste even better from up there. Looking to cut even more lines? The concierge is happy to arrange private shopping excursions and provide you with personalized business cards while in residence so that you can have your hauls from Chanel or Charvet delivered straight to your room (perhaps the two-story penthouse with views of the Eiffel Tower—treat yourself).
Should you favor less retail and more culture, Bulgari’s relationship with boutique travel company IF Experience can open doors to rarely seen private clubs and homes, such as the antique-filled, 17th-century Hôtel Particulier Montmartre. I recommend capping it all off with one of the hotel bar’s inventive cocktails and sampling the most extraordinary turbot-filled pasta by chef Niko Romito, who holds three Michelin stars.
It’ll be another year before Bulgari opens its first property in its hometown of Rome, but thankfully, we have Milan. Set on a quiet private street in the city’s Brera district and nestled in large park-like setting, it’s not hard to imagine why this tranquil setting was once home to a convent. Frequented by locals, the expansive Sunday brunch is the ideal spot to while away the afternoon with friends and family over one of the most delicious spreads in town. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a sciura or two (the well-dressed Milanese women of a certain age who call the neighborhood home). Beyond their street-style fame, any sciura worth her weight can tell you where to find the best of anything, from linens to silverware. Or, better yet, sign up for the sciura tour that the hotel offers. Buon viaggio!
Naomi Rougeau is ELLE's senior fashion features editor.