After planning this trip around a concert some months ago, it came up a bit too quickly and we were left panicking to book a couple of nights in a hotel and to get our trains organised. Have you ever done that? Always last minute and regretting not spending half an hour to find the accommodation and to get the train booked early to take advantage of those special offers that keep coming in on your phone.
We, (the we is me and my daughters) scoured all the cheap booking sites for information to find the perfect hotel. You know cheap ‘n cheerful prices but with luxury comfort.
We booked one hastily but afterwards found some bad feedback. Okay, mum to the rescue. I went back and found the Hotel Da Vinci in Milan. It looked great and if you booked through their website the offers were the best you could get. So before booking anywhere in the future, I’m going to find a great place through the cheap booking sites and then go direct to the hotel’s site to see if I can get a better deal.
Hotel booked, on to the train. I’ve done a lot of travelling the last few years up and down to Rome and also up to and through the south of France. I normally like to check out Italo since they are fast, comfortable, have free wifi and a movie carriage. If you register with them and download their app, you get information on special travel offers which are usually just fab especially if they have first class tickets with a special offer, sometimes even cheaper than some of the second class tickets and with complimentary snack and drink.
We didn’t really book early enough to get the best deal but I got 3 return tickets for 48.80 € each, not at all bad. That and with under 20 € to get from our local station to Florence to pick up the train, I think we did very well.
On the day of our travels, we picked up a train around 9 am to get us to Florence around 11.30 which gave us an hour to pick up a snack and have a potter around some of the station shops.
At Florence SMN station, the departing platform for Italo trains is normally only announced just 5 minutes before the train gets in so you can relax and mooch around for a long time. Just be ready for a last minute rush to get to your platform and positioned for the right carriage. The Italo trains nomally come into platform 9 and above.
Once on the train we were had seats round a table. Great for me, I could work. We were in the movie carriage but I wasn’t really in the mood so I didn’t plug in my headphones. The journey was fast and uneventful seeing us in Milan in 1 hour 50 minutes and feeling fresh.
Milan station is a very grand building, inaugurated in 1931. We needed a 2 day pass to use local trains and metro and we were easily able to buy one at a newsagent within the station before going down the escalators to the metro which was simple to navigate.
We picked up our train and got off at Comasina with a walk of about 900 m to our hotel. Good job we had our GPS!
Arrival at the Hotel Da Vinci
We arrived just before dusk.
Checking in was easy. There were four people on the check in/out desk.
Although I speak fluent Italian, the staff spoke great English and were very helpful. One negative was that there was nobody designated to show us to our room and help with bags without asking. We were fine with small suitcases but there was an American family with a lot of baggage who had to ask.
That said there was no problem with that and a member of staff obliged.
One thing to remember is that there are daily taxes to be paid on checkout which aren’t included in the price. In the Hotel Da Vinci this worked out at 5€ per person per day.
We were on the seventh floor. I admit that during our journey I was just a little anxious that our room wouldn’t match the lovely photos on the hotel’s website.. You know, the most beautiful room only in the photos and all of the others, bog standard.
When we opened the door of our room, we couldn’t have asked for more. It was just like the photos. The beds roomy, well, enormous and a balcony with a view looking out on that part of Milan which was semi rural. It would be lovely to sit out on a late afternoon in summer sipping an ‘aperitivo’ before dinner but since we were there in chillier November, that didn’t really matter.
I’ll be writing more on our stay at the Hotel Da VInci in Milan and also our Milan experience in a later post.
Don’t forget to check back!