Carmel Ilan Talks Travel

The artist behind one of Florence’s most stylish hotels shares the experiences that continue to inspire her.

Carmel Ilan. (Photo: courtesy of Carmel Ilan)

Carmel Ilan made a name for herself as a fine artist, exhibiting her paper-based works everywhere from her native Israel to Moscow to Tokyo. Now, she’s found a new target for her talents: the boutique hotel industry. The new Milu Hotel’s clean-lined interiors and on-site gallery, curated by Ilan herself, are a breath of fresh air in Italy’s Renaissance capital, Florence. Here, we asked the artist-turned-hotelier about her favorite hotels, hometown routine, and the city with the best art galleries.

Inside the Milu Hotel 5
Inside the Milu Hotel
The Milu Hotel in Florence, Italy. (Photos: courtesy of the Milu Hotel)
Inside the Milu Hotel

Inside the Milu Hotel

Inside the Milu Hotel

Inside the Milu Hotel

Inside the Milu Hotel

Favorite Museums

I find architecture to be as integral to the museum experience as the art on display. Japan’s Naoshima Island exemplifies that ideal. The isolated island’s series of museums, nearly all designed by Tadao Ando, are carved into the hillside: They form a train of geometric, skylit caverns, executed in Ando’s trademark concrete. In New York City, the Noguchi Museum’s artful flow between interior and exterior spaces enriches the encounter with its namesake sculptor’s masterful works. And in Florence, the Marino Marini Museum’s historical edifice provides a welcome juxtaposition to Marini’s classically-inspired, contemporary artworks.

Best City for Art Galleries

London, hands down. The city is filled with art galleries, from the West End’s established, blue-chip dealers to East London’s fringe artist spaces.

Memorable Hotels

In my mind, a resort should be in tune with its locale. In the remote desert of Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, the cabins of Succah in the Desert are appropriately meek under the expansive, starry sky. The colonial-era elegance of Hotel Ganges View is an ideal safe haven in the chaotic city of Varanasi, India. And Il San Pietro di Positano feels appropriately breezy for its location in the sleepy coastal town of Positano, Italy.

Bucket-List Destination

It’s always been my dream to visit Tibet. I’d relish the chance to speak to the Tibetan people about their cultural history.

Go-to Vacation Spot

Over the nine years my daughter has lived in the Hackney neighborhood of East London, I’ve fallen in love with the area. I could spend days exploring the diversity of cultural institutions and cafes, or biking in the picturesque London Fields park.

The Noguchi Museum's interior courtyard. (Photo: courtesy of The Noguchi Museum)


Favorite Restaurants

Israeli chef Eyal Shani established Tel Aviv’s Miznon, my choice hometown spot for a delicious pita with pickles and tahini. When I’m visiting London, I always stop by Dishoom for the best Indian fusion in Shoreditch. Still, my perfect laid-back night is at The Montien House Restaurant in Koh Samui, Thailand, enjoying local cuisine just steps from the sea.

Most Inspiring Travel Memory

I’ll never forget riding camels and camping under the open sky in the mountains of Santa Caterina in Sinai, Egypt, miles from civilization.

When I’m home in Tel Aviv, I head to …

Mezizim Beach, Tel Aviv Museum, or my studio in South Tel Aviv—but I’d almost always rather be on my balcony at home.

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