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LUXURY HOTELS: Maison Moschino, Milan, Italy
Style: Playhouse for corporate-weary grown-ups
Scene: Fashion Milano Central
Scene in Lobby: Those who grew the fashion label in the 80s. Fresh young things looking for a new sense of naughty.
From Vialle Monte Grappa, the hotel exterior is barely changed from its 1840s beginnings as a railway station, the second oldest in Italy. Long, sober and white with cross-paned, grey shuttered windows, it appears uncompellingly bureaucratic.  The building opened as a hotel in March 2010  and inside  all is change. Entering, not quite 'through the looking glass', but through glass doors and perceptions begin to be tweaked - gently at first.

In the cream marble-floored foyer a grouping of Moschino-style dress silhouettes have been reshaped into white standard lamps. Two fabric sculptures of sheep stare wittily on. From the ceiling, cloud lights drift dreamily. In an atrium, an Escher-style staircase climbs ominously upwards, mobiles of sheep and chooks hanging around its edges.

zzzzzzzzzzzzz room
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sleeping in a ballgown
little red riding hood
the forest
clandestino milano

The late Franco Moschino, creator of the eponymous fashion label, was not one to pander to serious fashion pundits. It seems that his successor Rosella Jardins and her team - who have collaborated with luxury hotels management group Hotelphilosophy and its innovative founder Stefano Ugolini - have created interiors which follow his suit. Or is it Tim Burton's? The hotel's opening has resulted in an odd spot of synchronicity. At a time when Burton's Alice in Wonderland has preoccupied the world's film screens, Maison Moschino has unveiled its own mad saunter through Alice's dreamtime.

Never is this more directly apparent than in the junior suite named Alice's Room. Here in the white room, guests are 'shrunk', Alice-style. Outsized lightbulbs hang over a giant teacup covered by glass to form a table. Bedside lamps are so large they don't require tables to sit on. But this isn't the only childhood tale to get a grown-up bedroom treatment.

There are 16 themes altogether that appear in varying form through the 65 room hotel, that includes two junior suites. The Little Red Riding Hood room might take some explaining if you show up with a partner. Cheekily propped up in bed like a sleep mate is a stuffed wolf sweetly covered in the same pretty floral fabric that forms the bed cover. Another room theme titled 'Sleeping in a Ballgown' features a Cinderella-style dress as a bedhead. As in many of the rooms, the guest-in-mind appears to be a feminine woman with a quirky sense of humour. It's hard to imagine a man in here, except for one who longed to rustle beneath the hemlines of a red velvet gown.

The 'Life is a Bed of Roses' theme features, of course, a bed smothered in red fabric roses with more drifting from a chandelier above. Are you listening fans of the film 'American Beauty'? The 'Sweet Room' theme serves up giant cushions shaped like cupcakes and tarts. Above, a chandelier is formed by strings of candy, biscuits and cupcakes. Moschino-favourite hearts are never far away, particularly in the 'Wallpaper' theme room where they feature as gold brocade on walls, bed covers and even as faux plants. Philipe Starck's  'Mademoiselle Chair' for Kartell also shows up covered with an irony - fabric hearts and flowers and such - that fits in easily to Maison Moschino.
The 'Sweet Room' theme serves up giant cushions shaped like cupcakes and tarts 

For rooms that channel surreal over girl look to rooms such as the 'Luxurious Attic'. In this all white and wooden floor oasis, a white 'cobweb' discreetly hangs in a ceiling corner. Shelves are stacked with 'shoeboxes', some of the lights stamped inexplicably with silhouettes of teddy bears, lobsters, roller stakes, stilettos and the light. The 'Blue' room theme offers some rare moodiness. In Moschino's world , "Shadows" equates to a black iron bedhead wrought into shapes of birds and mice and trees. The Luxury Travel Bible is impressed with the 'Forest' theme that hedges its bets both ways with the posts of four poster beds eerily shaped as trees and an owl bedside lamp in a creamy white setting.

The restaurant - Clandestino Milano - sits squarely in Moschino fashion territory with quirky, dress-covered chairs. Italian chef Moreno Cedroni has headed off to Japan - to find food to match the décor and has ended up serving up ever-changing Italian and vegetarian creations in sushi-style bento boxes. The Luxury Travel Bible will try and stay as impartial as Switzerland on the 'palate cleansing concoction' of a sake and mint-based 'mouthwash'. Even, Design Hotels which hosts bookings for Maison Moschino describes it as 'unusual'.

Situated near the Corso Como and Corso Garibaldi districts, Maison Moschino is also not far from Da Vinci's mural of 'The Last Supper' - no irony intended. And while the hotel also offers some of the more usual expectations such as a gym and spa (this one is the award-winning 'Culti' spa with massage rooms, Jacuzzi and Turkish bath), one thing Maison Moschino cannot ever be called is dull.

Check in: Maison Moschino, Viale Monte Grappa 12, 20124 Milan, Italy. Tel: +39 (0)2 29 00 9858
Ultimate Luxury: Ditching grown-up sensibilities for a sense of fun and absurd.
Most Indulgent Moment: Ditching the partner for a solo weekend with the wolf in bed
The Little Things: Just when you thought you were too jaded by the modern world, your eye will spy a new little design detail to amuse.
Junior Luxies: Nothing specific....but, how could you not let the principessas rumble on the cushions in the 'Sweet' room? However, if Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland brought on nightmares, leave them at home.
Dress code: Girls, must you ask? Boys - go for something by the not-so-distant cousin Gaultier.
Perfect luggage: Try something Samsonite by Starck if you can find it - a similar sense of humour will resonate.
Dent in the platinum:
Luxury Hotels Links: www.maisonmoschino.com www.designhotels.com
Prue Rushton 16/4/10
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