Located in a 19th century apartment building the Retro Apartment is a small but perfectly formed place to kick-start your stay in Milan. Comprising a combined lounge/kitchen plus bedroom and adjoining bathroom (no bath but roomy enough none-the-less) the flat exudes a perfectly maintained and lovingly created nostalgic charm. The owner lives in the flat but vacates it for guests and often stays near-by which is handy if you need something. If you arrive late there’s an excellent pizza place just downstairs.
Isola is one of those cool, slightly gritty neighbourhoods where few tourists venture but there’s no shortage of activities on offer. If you’re in the mood to get inked (‘Forza Italia’?), there’s a host of hipster-friendly tattoo parlours around the hood. Of more general interest, there’s some great drinking to be had – try the budget-friendly Frida downstairs for inexpensive drinks and generous quantities of snacks at apero hour. Consider borrowing a dog – or growing a hipster moustache – to blend in.
What We Love
The apartment has a very personal sense of style, yet we never felt we were invading somebody else’s territory. The book collection poses an excellent excuse to while away a few hours. We also loved the feel of the neighbourhood – the relaxed bohemian feel and the every day bustle of the street market. Breakfast-wise you can stop into the French cafe downstairs for coffee and croissants – if you ask nicely the friendly owner will lend you a tray and glasses so you can breakfast in bed and return the glasses etc when you are done.
Room to Improve
We found there wasn’t quite enough in the way of bed covers and towels – ensure you have enough of everything at check-in. The apartment has a lovely minimalist feel, but it’s difficult to maintain this when there’s nowhere to pack away one’s clothes! Some hangers/hooks/a small shelf is required.
The flat is in a popular nightlife district and over the weekend crowds gather around the street late into the night – if you are sensitive to noise, pack ear plugs just in case. On a positive note, make sure you book a table at Ratana around the corner for a lovely slow food dinner in a beautiful but unpretentious atmosphere.