Gareth Kentfield, who works in our head office’s business travel department, spent two nights in Milan and here is what he got up to during the trip…
Operator/Host: Etihad Regional
(Hotel names/Ship name): Palace Hotel – Lake Como, Hotel Hermitage – Milan
Airline: Etihad Regional
Duration: 2 Nights
I flew from Cambridge Airport, which is easy enough to get to from anywhere in the south-east. I was able to park at the airport (normally charged at £10 per day parking) which is directly outside the main terminal building, so it was only a short walk to the terminal itself.
Cambridge Airport only has one terminal and inside there is only a small lobby/waiting area with a Costa Coffee stand. As the airport is relatively new to commercial flights there is not much foot flow, hence the check-in process was quick and efficient.
In terms of the flight itself, Etihad Regional fly a Saab 2000, which is a small plane. It has the look of a small private chartered flight and there is only one cabin crew member on board, whilst the cabin is laid out with one seat, then the aisle, then two seats. The seats are all leather and very comfy, with plenty of leg room.
Although the flight to Milan is only a few hours you do get a complimentary light snack and drink. Etihad Regional allow 23Kg hold luggage with their tickets and you can also take up to 10Kg hand luggage. Returning from Milan also was quick, as check-in is not as busy as other airline’s check-in desks.
This was a quaint, Italian hotel offering authentic Northern Italian decor. There is ample space in the standard rooms and you get a mini bar, toiletries and T.V, with some main channels in English. There is a restaurant on-site serving excellent quality Northern Italian food. The hotel can cater for large conferences/functions and has a terrace bar which can be hired completely for your function.
The Palace Hotel overlooks the Lake and is very picturesque. The old wing, where I stayed, was completely renovated [inside only] in the winter of 2013 and had two junior suites installed. The staff are very friendly and were efficient at handling our check in/check out smoothly, considering we were a medium sized group.
This hotel had a more modern feel but was still in keeping with the Italian style. The rooms were much larger, with an oversized queen bed and large windows. Admittedly, it was not the best view (view of another building and Harley Davidson bike shop), however, there are rooms located in the hotel with views of the courtyard area at the back of the hotel, which is nice to have a bit of open space in a City hotel.
The Hermitage is located in Chinatown, so there are plenty of restaurants around for guests to go and explore. Being Italy, the streets are narrow and buildings are close together, but this does tend to add to the charm of most areas. You do get some noise from the bikes opposite, however, this did not interrupt my sleep or comfort in the hotel. Functions/meetings can be accommodated for in the main function room.
On the first full day in Como, we took the Funicular railway (sort of like a cable car on rails) to Brunate. Brunate is high in the mountains and gave us spectacular views of the lake and from that height, we were able to see over to the Italian/Swiss border. We then came back down the railway to Como where we had a city tour; taking in the main centre of town and the duomo.
Inside the duomo (sort of like a church – but not!) there was architecture from several influences and, because the building took over three centuries to be completed, it had a lot of different styles. There were also two altars of differing styles; one from southern Italy/Tuscany area and one from northern Italy). We then got to enjoy a speedboat tour of the part of the Lake we were staying on. We saw the main commune building of Como and some famous residents’ villas (including George Clooney).
On arrival into Milan, the city reminded me of Paris. In Northern Italy, the architecture is very different to that of Tuscany/Rome and so it had more of a classical European feel to it. The next day was our shopping trip around Milan’s fashion district. Some of the shops here were very expensive and exclusive to the rich and famous.
I enjoyed every minute of the itinerary, from the experience of Cambridge Airport and Etihad Regional to the elegance of shopping in Milan and everything in between was. If I had to pick one thing, I would say the dining experience. This is not something you would normally do, but the long dinners and lunches, with 4-5 courses and samples of the local cuisine, was really good. There is a lot on offer in both Como and Milan and coupled with Etihad Regional and Cambridge Airport made the experience that much more memorable.
In terms of the overall trip, not much could be improved on, as the reps were helpful, knowledgeable and thoughtful. In terms of the experience of Como and Milan and the airline/hotels, we experienced the best they had to offer and I cannot fault anything really.
I would recommend the trip, airport and airline to all travellers.
Must see? Lake Como and Brunate
Must do? Fly from Cambridge Airport on Etihad Regional
Must try? A long, Italian dining experience
Travel with Fred. Olsen can assist in booking a similar trip to Milan for you and your family; making the ideal trip for some summer sun next year or a wintry escape at the end of this. Speak directly with our consultants at one of our nine locations in East Anglia or contact us online through the enquiry form on the website. We have travel agents in Ipswich, Norwich, Colchester and various other places in the area.
Unfortunately, Cambridge Airport ceased operating commercial and charter services in 2016.