Hotel Central: Under the Tuscan Moon
Florence leads a hotel renaissance in Italy with design- forward inns just a stroll from the Duomo.
By George W. Stone
From the September issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine.
No one ever accused Tuscany’s capital of being sleepy. But these days, this Renaissance hub is humming with hotels that redefine classic Florentine style with a few modern twists. Here are five that would keep Galileo’s starry nights aglow and his slumbers decidedly stylish.
Hotel Brunelleschi A resurrected Byzantine tower and a medieval church serve as the architectural cornerstones of this just renovated, 95-room hotel two blocks from the Duomo. Named for the architect of Florence’s signature feat of engineering, the Brunelleschi mixes classic elements (a cellar museum displays relics from the Roman baths that once occupied this lot) and designer touches (guest suites feature crystal lamps, violet silk curtains, and silvery velvet headboards). Located near high-end boutiques on Via dei Calzaiuoli, the hotel also offers luxurious views of the city. From $245.
Casa Howard More pied-à-terre than hotel, this small inn near Piazza di Santa Maria Novella consists of 13 individually designed, sun-soaked rooms and suites that accommodate every need (including those of traveling dogs). The two-floor Studio Room channels a New York loft, complete with a spiral staircase. The elegant Drawing Room conveys an Oscar Wildean vibe with Venetian mosaic marble floors and a view of Via della Scala. Two pluses: the inn’s cooking classes and the fragrant soaps from Officina Profumo di Santa Maria Novella. From $130.
Gallery Hotel Art Taking a cue from his father, designer Salvatore Ferragamo, hotelier Leonardo Ferragamo has placed his family’s fashionable stamp on the hospitality biz. The result is five hotels within a block of the Ponte Vecchio, each emphasizing different aspects of Italian design. Among the more notable is the retro-cool hotel Continentale, a 1950s jet set–style expression of pink and black overlooking the Arno. The Gallery Hotel Art features contemporary creativity with its showcase of rotating artwork by such luminaries as Laura Letinsky and Martin Schoeller. Its 71 rooms are compact spaces decked out in creamy fabrics and gallery-worthy photography. From $243.
J.K. Place Florence has always been a city of the world, and this 20-room hotel drives that point home with interior design that pulls together Chinese chairs, Moroccan lanterns, zebra-pattern ottomans, Tibetan artifacts, and other elements of global style. The dominant mood is one of clean-lined sophistication, making this hotel feel like a private townhouse. Guests can sip prosecco cocktails in the art deco lounge before taking in the Gothic and early-Renaissance frescoes of Santa Maria Novella church nearby. From $500.
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Hotel Rosso 23 As its name suggests, this affordable inn across from Piazza di Santa Maria Novella is awash in the color red. While the camere (rooms) are mostly utilitarian gray, a crimson tide accents robes, slippers, carpets, couches, and vaulted ceiling panels. The effect is as energizing as the large-format prints of Florentine facades that decorate the hotel. From $122 (including breakfast).
Tell us about another design-forward hotel in Florence. Leave us the details in the comments section below.
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