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Fashion is not simply a bunch of ideas confined to the pages of glossy magazines in sexy, daring, vivacious Milan, the Italian capital of cool. The city is as wildly audacious and stunning as the amazing catwalk fashions that are sketched out on paper by Milan's world-famous designers. The city's young and beautiful know it, with their Armani, Missoni and Versace threads hanging exquisitely from their elegant frames as they sip coffee, hit the shops or walk their miniature dogs.

That's not to say that Milan is all about the posing. This city, which is in the Lombardy region, is very real, with some gritty neighbourhoods, passionate football fans, a thriving business sector and enough art, history and architecture to give any of its Italian sister cities a run for their money. The magnificent Duomo in the Golden Triangle

Milan hotels fit within this scene of contrasts too, with slick designer pads attracting fashion fans, and budget hotels drawing visitors who prefer to save their money for the shops.

Hotels in Milan, just like those in many other cities in Italy, are priced at the higher end of the market, and you might find that your normal four-star budget will only stretch to a three-star hotel in Milan. To find something resembling a bargain, visit the city when some of the world's biggest trade fairs and fashion shows are not in town - these events see every room in Milan booked up well in advance. 

In terms of where to stay, many holidaymakers choose to book hotels around the cathedral (Duomo) in the Golden Triangle. Restaurants, shops and attractions are on your doorstep in the historic centre of Milan, and this is the place to be if you would rather not use public transport to reach the sights and sounds of tourist Milan. Many of the major brands have offerings in the city. Look for hotels from Holiday Inn, Four Points by Sheraton, Novotel, NH Hoteles, Park Hyatt, UNA Hotels, Star Hotels, Four Seasons, Crowne Plaza, Best Western, Hilton, Radisson Blu and Mercure.

If you don't mind travelling, and would rather pick up a hotel bargain with a bit more space to call your own, consider staying in the business district and around the convention centres, but factor in a 30-minute journey time into the historic centre and the associated costs, but car hire is available.

Top five attractions

Duomo di Milano                                       

This gothic cathedral is the very symbol of Milan and one of the most recognisable buildings in Europe.

San Siro

One of the finest football stadiums in the world, San Siro is home to both AC Milan and Inter Milan. Take a tour for as little as 30 euros.

'The Last Supper'

See one of the most awe-inspiring artworks ever painted; Leonardo Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' is housed in the Refectory at the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Book tickets in advance for your timed viewing of the masterpiece.

La Scala opera house

It would be almost wrong not to visit the Teatro alla Scala and take in the traditional Italian pastime of opera.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II

Italy's oldest shopping mall and a visual delight, the mall features enormous glass ceilings that set the scene for this cathedral of consumerism.

Events

Carnevale Ambrosiano; February: Don't miss the mass display of traditional costumes as Italy's biggest carnival snakes its way through the streets of Milan. Much of the event is family-themed and children are encouraged to take part.

La Milanesiana; June/July: This curious annual celebration of international culture often has trouble categorising itself, therefore a new theme is chosen each year in an attempt to make sense of what is going on. A general mishmash of concerts, films, seminars and trade shows all make for one uniquely diverse party.

Milan Fashion Week; September: One of the most prestigious events of the fashion year. Every top brand, every top designer, every top model - they all descend upon Milan for this showcase event. Book well in advance as many hotels will expect premium prices for one of the greatest catwalk shows on earth.