Entering the great courtyard of this 18th-century building in the heart of Milan, you wouldn’t imagine the lightness and charm of the small, discreet boutique hotel on the second floor. Heavy glass doors slide open to a simple reception where chic Italians and visitors mingle; young staff whisk you off to rooms whose individuality and style promise country-house comfort rather than the spartan modernity associated with this energetic city. The place is run by real people with passion. From the smallest room with its elegant Milanese fabrics and wicker chair with cherry striped and piped cushions to the largest, airy room with its muslin-hung four-poster, terrace, olive tree and scented climbers, each space surprises. Fine linen, deep mattresses, dramatic murals, fresh posies, stacks of magazines, small, gleaming shower rooms – and air conditioning: each room bears the distinctive hallmark of the energetic owner. In the new grey-floored, aubergine-sofa’d communal space, too, for basic breakfast beneath glistening chandeliers. Cool simplicity, and La Scala a heartbeat away.