The Milanese are known by Italians as being among the most snobbish in Italy – but not without motive: this is a city that knows fashion, design and general 'buon gusto' or good taste like no other. However, like any authentic fashionista, Milan does not reveal herself to just anyone. Knowing where to be seen is half the challenge, the rest is working out what to wear...
Via Privata Fratelli Gabba 7/b
+39 02 8058051.
Anyone who has any business to do in the fashion world stays in this hotel or at least arranges to meet here for a drink. It's chic, it's minimalist and boasts a 4,000-square-metre private garden, a natural extension of the nearby Botanical Garden – which is a welcome relief in what is essentially a very concrete city. Grab yourself a stool at the hotel's bar looking out through a giant wall of glass to the garden and hope to be discovered by The Sartorialist or share bar nuts with Miuccia Prada.
Via Pasquale Sottocorno, 6
+39 02 76022653
You'll feel as though you've entered an elite gentlemen's club with the walls of books, decadent upholstered furniture and mellow lamp-lit setting. This empire is the original 'concept' venue, offering a fine dining restaurant, bistro, pasticceria, cigar and perfume boutique, and bar. Being open from lunch until 2am, it's the perfect choice for a late dinner after the theatre or the opera. While in the restaurant you can dine on Italian truffles, seafood and porcini mushrooms, the bistro specialises more in meat and game. The pasticceria will delight you with their signature chocolates, biscotti and sumptuous cakes – try their 'La bomba', a pastry filled with mascarpone and wild strawberries. See site for address details as not all Giacomo's venues are located in the same palazzo.
Piazza Belgioioso, 2
+39 02 76020224
Don't be fooled by the fast pace, glossy boutiques and modern art in Milan, the city also has a heritage that includes historic places like this beloved restaurant, which opened in 1696. Back in the day it was frequented by figures such as composer Giuseppe Verdi, while today it attracts royalty, politicians and aristocracy.
Ristorante Armani Nobu
Via Gastone Pisoni, 1
+39 02 62312645.
It may seem strange to choose Japanese when you're in Italy, especially as we already have Nobu in Australia, yet ask any savvy Milanese and they will tell you that this place is where it's all happening. Celebrities, chic locals, international pretty young things and anyone else lucky enough to secure a reservation. You may have eaten Nobu's internationally renowned South-American Japanese fusion at another Nobu before, but people-watching doesn't get better than the VIP crowd on display at the Milan counterpart.
Corso Como, 10
+39 02 654831.
Of course, in a town full of supermodels, there is more to do than just eat. Where do the cool and connected go to do their designer shopping? To the hybrid bookshop/designer boutique/café/art gallery/hotel created by Carla Sozzani (sister of Vogue Italia editor in chief Franca Sozzani) – ma certo darling! If you've ever wanted to live inside the pages of Vogue Italia, this is aspirational and experiential shopping at its best. Their philosophy is that this fusion retail space exemplifies 'slow shopping'. Go, see, drool.
Via Plinio, 39
This bar has been referenced countless times by most luxury travel or fashion journalists, particularly their famous cocktail 'Negroni Sbagliato', but the place still attracts a clientele that is very 'di moda' so it's worth a visit.
Via Montenapoleone, 8
+39 02 76005599.
You can party all night long in Milan but networking, being beautiful and surrounding yourself in sophistication starts again first thing in the morning with a caffé and cornetto in the city's most elegant bar/café. Being right next door to La Scala since it opened in 1817, this buzzing meeting place has always attracted artists of the highest echelons.