“ Address: Via G. Lulli, 6 / 20131 Milano / Italia „
****Why Hotel Sabatino?****
Last December I booked two tickets to see the greatest rock star ever. He was bringing his band to San Siro Football Stadium in Milan. The date was in June, 2013. I wanted a cheap basic hotel located near to a Metro stop so I could get back from the concert quickly and without any fuss and be able to go sightseeing later on, using the Metro as my means of transport. I spent ages looking at the options on Booking.com and eventually came up with the above mentioned hotel. I thought, nice name, within my budget, in an accessible location, and looked okay for the money. Okay, the review rating was 6.8% but I wasn't too worried about that. If the bed was clean and comfy, it would do, I knew we would be out most of the time.
****Downtown or Rough town?****
Okay, I'll give you the official location then elaborate further. Hotel Sabatino is in a good location, it is a five minute walk to Loreto Metro Station where you can take line M1 to the Duomo, Galeria Vittorio Emanuelle II and La Scala Opera House or M2 to Castello Sforzesco, Cimitero Monumentale and Palazzo dell'Arte. These are all fascinating attractions and all worth a visit. The Corso Buenos Aires is ten minutes' walk away; here you will find a very long thoroughfare full of stylish shops, cafes and restaurants. Late at night it is rowdy and there are a few dubious characters walking around so be sensible if out and about, don't go showing off your gold watch or your new Iphone. The wonderful Stazione Centrale is only 2 stops away; this is where the bus from the airport arrives so I think you will agree, not a bad location for a hotel.
Now for the bit that the website doesn't tell you. The area is a little jaded, not seedy but definitely worn around the edges. It's a mixture of terraced tenement houses painted in pastel shades with balconies and pretty gardens filled with Mediterranean vegetation, one and two star hotels that have seen better days, little trattorias serving pasta and pizza and it is also part of Milan's Red Light District. Scantily clad ladies don't restrict their presence to standing in front of cars to only late in the evening; they are also around in the day as well. This doesn't bother me but it may put other people off. I like a city to have a bit of character.
****Key, cold beer and bed****
We arrived after 10.30, tired and thirsty. All, I could think of was beer! You walk straight off the street into the reception area, a semi-circular desk with a computer. There was a young Chinese chap to greet us. He smiled and seemed friendly enough. We showed him our print off from Booking.com, he checked his PC, asked for passports to see if we were who we said we were, handed them back and then went to get the key. He couldn't find it at first but after 10 minutes he did. All the time my eyes were focussed on the fridge and the tall bottles of Heineken standing proudly on the bottom shelf. I am not a fan of Heineken but I was parched and it would have to do as I really didn't want to go out again having got this far. There was plenty time to see the Duomo, Bruce and Milan. Tomorrow was another day, I was quite happy to lie on the bed, wipe my brow, kick off my boots and quench my thirst.
****Not tiny or pokey, just small****
Our room was up two flights of marble stairs that could have done with a bit of spit and polish. Key fitted the lock perfectly, no messing about with swipe cards. Sometimes, old fashioned ways are the best!
Yes, the room was quite small with just about enough leg room to manoeuvre around the double bed. My eyes glanced over to the shuttered windows that were wide open and letting mosquitoes in. I couldn't resist looking at the garden and the gardens opposite. They looked very Italian and very pretty. I was happy to be in Italy, even if the room was small and a light bulb was missing from the ceiling light that doubled up as a fan, you know the type of fan that you always come across in a seedy bar in Marrakesh. There was a desk, chair and mirror close to the window which also had bright orange curtains (my favourite colour) and a wardrobe with coat hangers in. The only other piece of furniture was a free standing cupboard that I thought was a mini-bar. It was actually for storing neatly folded clothes and not mini bottles of gin and vodka and the odd packet of nuts. We did have wall lamps above the bedhead but my bulb was missing. The bed was very comfortable for sitting, propped up with a pillow and sleeping in. We had one large pillow each, the correct number for both of us as we don't like to have a mountain of pillows to go to sleep, they usually get thrown on the floor. The flat screen TV was mounted on the wall, not the largest I've seen but if we had wanted to watch Italian footie the view from the bed would have been fine.
****Scrub up time****
For those of you have stayed in Ibis hotels all over the world you will know the size of the bathrooms in this well-known establishment. Our en-suite was a bit smaller. I am not sure how a very large person would be able to move around in the shower unit and you do have to bend as there isn't a shelf to place your shower gel or shampoo on. The shower head was a normal one, the flow of water was adequate, not powerful but hot and wet and did the job, made you feel alive in the morning. The loo and wash basin were bog standard (no pun intended) and several garish looking sachets of shower gel sat on the glass shelf above the wash basin, under the square mirror. The light from the ceiling was dim but there were lights above the mirror so if my husband had wanted to plug in his razor he would have been able to have a shave. Actually, I just realised that he doesn't have an electrical razor; he always has a wet shave so that piece of information is for readers and potential customers only. I don't think I can tell you anything else about the en-suite bathroom except that the louvered door didn't always close properly. The lock was a bit dodgy.
****Yes, I know Italian breakfasts in hotels are not up to much****
I've stayed in enough hotels in Italy and Sardinia to know that you pay over the top for breakfast and it is generally rubbish but the price we paid for our stay included breakfast. There is a notice on the wall at reception stating that breakfast costs 4 Euros so take note if you don't book all inclusive. Was it worth 4 Euros? Let's take a look.
The breakfast serving bar is at the end of the corridor where the reception desk is. There are tables and chairs in this corridor but we chose to sit outside in the garden under cover. The Chinese lady on duty was friendly and could speak a little English, Chinese and Italian. The breakfast is self-service so while we helped ourselves to food she made up a pot of hot water, (you add your own T bag) and a cup of coffee with milk. You can then help yourself to fruit juice but beware it doesn't taste like fresh orange, more like something radio-active. There are two cereal options - the good, reliable cornflake and some sort of crispy pop covered in chocolate, a selection of cheap yoghurts are available to put on top of cereal or eat separately. Across from the serving bar there is a selection of white goods. I don't mean cookers and fridges; I mean bread and pastries with high starch content and no goodness whatsoever. There are croissants in a display unit with a lid but these were filled with sticky apricot jam. I wanted a plain croissant so I could spread a small tablet of butter on to it. There was only one sort of sliced bread, like Bimbo bread that you can buy in Spain, doesn't really taste of anything but toasts nicely, well, that's when the toaster actually does the job. This one didn't, it took ages and then when the lady brought two slices to me they were only slightly browned. The butter was hard so when I tried to spread it on the toast the bread disintegrated and formed a hole in the centre. Still, I covered it up with a slice of plastic cheese and that did the job. The only other things to put on toast or bread were jam or processed cheese portions which I like to take off the silver wrapping and eat whole. My husband who has a sweet tooth tried a croissant, he could have had it heated up in the microwave but declined. He said it was okay. He also tried a piece of Swiss roll that was individually packaged in cellophane; this was very sweet and artificial. When I saw all the white cakes I thought they looked like the owner had bought a job lot from a market but on our last day we went to a supermarket to buy some salami and ham and I noticed the very same cakes on the confectionery shelf. I can't believe Italians eat all this rubbish; still at least the breakfast was slightly better than the last place I stayed in, in Rome. There, I was allowed only one roll, yoghurt and a cup of coffee. My advice is to skip breakfast in the hotel and go to one of the piazzas close by for your prima colazione.
****Ssh! I'm trying to sleep!****
As our room was situated on the first floor we were able to hear the sound of people checking in at reception. The first night I didn't hear a thing, the second night I was awake for ages listening to one heavy footed person run up and down the stairs and then later he was clanking his key trying to get it into the keyhole. Eventually, the chap at reception, a different one, told him to be quiet and showed him how to use the key properly. The same night I was able to hear traffic noise from the road at the back. The night of the concert I was unable to sleep but it was because I was adrenalized and not because of noisy guests. Like in any hotel you stay in, if the guests are rowdy then you will hear noise. It's luck of the draw.
****Do a deal?****
When it came to pay, my husband decided to pay cash. You can pay by credit card but over the years we seem to have accumulated a lot of spare Euros and wanted to spend some of them. The same chap who we met on the first night gave us the bill, we checked it and it was correct including beers, Vat and City tax. My husband loves doing a deal and he is always negotiating on prices. The bill came to 238 Euros for 3 nights including breakfast and 6 beers. He asked if we could have a discount for cash, the guy agreed and knocked off 18 Euros so we paid 220 Euros. Not a huge discount but every little helps.
It is a good idea to check public holidays in Milan before you book as all the Tratorrias and shops apart from one supermarket were closed on the Sunday we were there. It was a public holiday.
Take some protection against mosquitoes because I was bitten quite badly.
I liked the location and the area even if it is a bit run down. The room was basic but adequate for our needs. I liked the members of staff; they were polite, helpful and not too fussy. The option of taking breakfast in the garden was a bonus on the first day. The bed was very comfortable and I was pleased that we were able to get a cold beer on arrival. I also enjoyed looking out on to residents gardens at the different trees like fig, pine, eucalyptus etc.
I thought the standard of cleanliness could have been higher. Superficially the room looked clean but I think when the cleaners came in it was just a matter of a quick sweep and a mop. A bit more elbow grease could have been used. It was a nuisance not having a bin in the room - only a small point but for me who collects lots of rubbish, an important one. The missing light bulbs, the one in the main room ceiling light and the reading lamp and I think there were a couple missing in the bathroom. It takes a couple of seconds to put a bulb in a lamp so this issue shows a bit of laziness on behalf of the management.
Noise issue - I could be laid back and say that noise happens in hotels but if I'm honest, the level of noise on the second night annoyed me.
WiFi is available in all areas and is free
If you are visiting Milan by car there is a garage that can be used. The hotel has an arrangement with the owners and can obtain fixed rates.
24 hour reception is available
****Do I recommend it or not?****
The answer to this question is Yes, to people like me who want a cheap bed for the night in a city location without any fuss and aren't concerned about the hotel being located in the Red Light District of Milan. If this concerns you, then you won't like the location or the hotel. The hotel's selling point is that it is very close to a Metro, bus and tram stop so getting around Milan becomes a simple task.
We were happy with the price for 3 nights. Milan is quite an expensive city so 200 Euros is perfectly acceptable.
Hotel Sabatino is what it says - a two star hotel and that's the amount of stars I am going to award it.
Address: Via Giovanni Lulli, 6, Citta' Studi, Milano, 20131