Because Milan attracts more business travelers than tourists, there is a greater preponderance of four-star hotels, and fewer smaller, inexpensive places. There is also a tendency for many hotels—and not just the smaller ones—to be closed during the Christmas holidays and throughout the month of August. Booking a room during major trade shows can be costly, especially near the Milan Fairgrounds. Book early if you're planning to attend.
Note that the city's hotels are likely to be sold out during fashion-show periods (mid-January, late February, late June and late September) and throughout the Milan Furniture Fair (mid-April). Indeed, during the Furniture Fair, many Milanese make money by renting their apartments to exhibitors and buyers.
A number of hotels are clustered in the area around the Duomo, near the Piazza Repubblica and Central train station. If you're in Milan to see the sights, a hotel near the Duomo is the most convenient. If that's not an option, choose a hotel near a metro stop; you can hop on a train and be in the center of things in a matter of minutes. Remember that "star" ratings are national. Consider a three-star as the minimum standard: The one- and two-star categories may only offer rooms with shared baths. In addition, outside of the center and in residential areas, the one- and two-star establishments may be little more than brothels.
Hotel rates may include breakfast. This may be a mixed blessing. You may be paying as much as 10 euros for a cup of coffee and a croissant, which would cost you about 2 euros in the bar up the street. If you are watching your budget, ask how much breakfast costs, and if necessary see if you can pay just the room rate.
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