“ Address: ia Carlo Tenca 12 / 20124 Milan / Italy „
When booking a holiday, half the fun is deciding where you're going to stay. You can look at all the hotel websites, try to find the best prices, and...read hotel reviews. This in itself can be an interesting experience, as hotel experiences can be so very subjective. On websites that aren't as comprehensive as DooYoo, someone might leave a one line comment about a hotel, and it's up to you to decipher the tone, meaning and subtext of that one little comment. This was the dilemma I was faced with when trying to book a night in a Milan hotel a few months ago. Choosing the Hotel Verona, reviews on both Trip Advisor and Hostelworld varied between "It's great, I would stay here every night if I could! I would fly to Milan each day just so I could experience the luxuriousness that is this hotel" and "OH MY GOD, I HAVE TRAVELLED AROUND IRAQ ON A CAMEL AND I HAD BETTER ACCOMMODATION THAN I DID IN THIS PLACE!!!!!!!!! DO NOT STAY HERE EVER!" Never one to back away from a challenge (unless it's hard), I decided that I would have to see for myself and write a review.
The hotel Verona is a one-star hotel located on a back street near to Milan's central train station. It has nineteen rooms, consisting of twelve single rooms, five double rooms and a triple. There are communal bathrooms, although it seems that most, if not all rooms have an ensuite. Rooms have heating and airconditioning, a small ante-room where breakfast is served, and reception is open 24 hours a day.
LOCATION AND CHECKING IN:
The hotel is located on a small side street approximately a five minute amble from Milano Centrale (The main station). The main tourist attractions, such as the Cathedral are three or four stops on the metro, which is located underneath the central station. There didn't seem to be many touristy things around the hotel; mostly small cafes, neighbourhood shops and other hotels. Then again, we didn't really have time to explore the neighbourhood on foot. The area seemed safe to walk around in at night, although the usual precautions that you'd take in any big city would apply if you're a lone traveller.
We'd printed out all our confirmations, so there weren't any problems with checking in. There was an elderly gentleman on reception and we decided to try speaking in Italian. Eventually, when we tried to ask "Is breakfast included, if so, what time does it start?" in a combination of pidgin Italian and mime, he just looked at us pitifully and said, in perfect English "Yes, your breakfast is included, it starts at 7 in that little room next door."
Armed with our key (an old-fashioned one on a big plastic tag) we went along a narrow corridor to our room. The hotel basically takes up one floor of an apartment building, so reception is at one end of the corridor, and our room was right at the other end of it. First impressions were favourable. It was a good size, certainly big enough for two tallish people to walk around without banging into each other. The floor was blue and tiled, but spotlessly clean (if a bit cold), and the walls were just rough plaster, but painted a pale shade of yellow. There didn't seem to be any peeling plaster or paint, as far as I could see.
There were a couple of wall hooks behind the door, a freestanding wardrobe, desk and chair, and side tables next to the bed, one of which had a telephone on it. At the foot of the bed was a low-ish cabinet with a TV on it. We did end up watching a bit of TV late at night, and, let me tell you, Italian TV is HILARIOUS. Even the guidebook was like "Yeah, Italians basically watch TV just to laugh at it, because it's that bad." There weren't any English TV channels, although I think there was one or two in different European languages. The reception was a bit fuzzy at times, but it was watchable. We ended up watching "Anaconda" dubbed into Italian. It made the movie so much more entertaining.
I was dreading the bed being some horrible, creaky affair, but to my surprise it was pretty good! The mattress was nice and firm, the sheets were obviously a little old, but freshly laundered. There was a rough blanket over the top, and a bedspread on top of that. In the cupboard we found two extra pillows, which was good, as the ones provided on the bed were a bit deflated. The bed was certainly comfy enough to sleep on, and big enough that we could both spread out.
The other surprise (Apart from the joy that was Anaconda) was that we had a balcony! Well, kind of. Actually, not really. What we had was nice big wooden French windows, which opened up onto a very small balcony. Unfortunately, it looked rickety and crumbly, and looked across a courtyard into the next building, so it wasn't a place you'd really want to linger on. Maybe in summertime you might want to step out there, but we didn't bother. But it was still pretty cool, and so.....European! I've managed to convince my friends in Oz that all places in Europe have big French windows that you fling open in the morning while you're enjoying your croissants and hot chocolate, and it's actually not all that far from the truth! Obviously, I cannot comment on other rooms, so don't expect that you'll get a balcony, and if you do you'll be happily surprised.
The bathroom was plain but adequate with a sink and mirror (and good lighting), a bidet, toilet and small shower with a cloth curtain. Mini soaps were provided, as were both hand and body towels. The only method of ventilation was by opening the frosted window, which was located right next to the toilet. And looked straight into someone's apartment. So I would advise either opening it once you've vacated the bathroom, or else only a crack, unless you like sitting on the toilet and waving at the old lady in the flat opposite. Unfortunately, I do know people who would find that fun.
One of the downsides to this place was that it wasn't very well soundproofed. Normally I sleep like a log, but this time I was really restless during the night, and didn't sleep very well. I then realised that both the walls and door were poorly soundproofed, and I could hear people coming and going in the corridor right outside. Around 5 am, some lady must have come on duty on reception, and the sound of her clicky high heels on the tiled corridor drove me crazy. It's not that she was doing anything wrong, just that the sound travelled all the way down the corridor to me. I certainly wasn't expecting the hotel to be thoroughly soundproofed, and just assumed that I would sleep through the noise but for whatever reason, I was restless and so the noise was really apparent to me. Boyfriend, on the other hand, heard nothing.
I had an early flight back to Leeds, so we were at breakfast at 7 am. It was served in a small room next to reception, which was the only sort of 'common' area in the whole hotel. I don't know if it was used by travellers during the day or not. The room had a couple of computers, which apparently were free to use (We didn't bother) and a TV in the corner, which was showing Saturday morning cartoons, although thankfully it was muted.
In the corner of the room were a couple of trestle tables with the food on top. It wasn't a great selection. Mostly, it was mass-produced sweet rolls and pastries, still in their plastic wrappers. There was a small tray with some individually wrapped cheese squares, and a few slices of cold meat. There were jugs of water and milk, as well as an orange drink (It certainly wasn't juice). A young man was working in here, clearing away plates and cutlery and making coffees. The coffee machine was a big, expensive typically wonderful Italian thing, and so he was able to make coffee and tea for us. The breakfast wasn't wonderful by any stretch of the imagination, but it was adequate. Considering that it was free, it was nice to at least have something to eat and drink first thing in the morning without having to go out and pay for food.
For this stay in Milan, our only concern was to get the cheapest room available. We looked on all the usual websites that people consider, and finally booked through hostelworld.com, where we paid Euro55 for two people for one night. This was in February, which is probably the quietest time for tourism, and it was still a lot. Prices will rise during the busy season, so be warned that staying in Milan will cost a fair bit.
So, did I agree with the scaremongers, or am I bigging this place up? I have to say, I came away with a pretty favourable impression of this hotel. I knew that this place was going to be cheap, and I wasn't anticipating much. But I was very impressed that we had our own ensuite, as well as a TV and a free breakfast. If you're the kind of person who likes to stay in luxury, or are very picky about your accommodation, then you might not like it here. But if you're happy to stay in hostels or cheap hotels then I would recommend this place. With hotel prices being what they are, you might not be able to afford a 2/3 star hotel, and considering this is only rated as a one star hotel, it's an exceptional find.
Hotel Verona, Via Carlo Tenca, 12 20124 Milano
In close proximity to Milan's Central Train Station