Your grandmother would probably dismiss the Straf as a building site. But the Straf is one of the most characteristic design hotels in Milan, four-star and no less, and a pioneer of the rather extreme ‘unfinished industrial’ look, with distressed cement walls, scratched mirrors and burnished copper panels. It opened in winter 2001 in a 19th-century neo-Renaissance building next to the Duomo, although no such historic influences are at play here – this is pure forward-looking minimalist design. Public spaces are certainly rather minimal – with an austere foyer, a breakfast room (a monochrome cube) and Straf bar (a concrete cube), which makes for mild claustrophobia since it’s right on the tourist zone’s frontline. But the cachet of staying at the Straf more than makes up for it for its hip fan base of professional creatives, who fill out its 64 unique rooms, all with designer bathrooms, über-modern TV and music systems and exposed concrete. A handful feature aromatherapy pods, a glassed-off area complete with Japanese massage chair with plug-in scent capsules.