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Florence Hotels

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
Antica Dimora Firenze
72 Via San Gallo
Florence
Italy 50129
Tel: 39 055 462 7296
info@anticadimorafirenze.it
www.anticadimorafirenze.it

This six-bedroom gem of a guest house is situated a bit away from the tourist crowds, a ten-minute walk north of the Duomo. It has the air of a house belonging to a cultured aunt who has good design sense, with framed botanical prints and pastel-hued walls. Oriental rugs take the cold edge off the traditional tiled floors, and all the furniture is antique, some of it very high quality. Four rooms have four-poster beds hung with gauzy linen curtains, and one (room five) has a private terrace with rooftop views. The comfortable sitting/breakfast room is well-stocked with arty books for browsing, and you can also choose a DVD to watch in your room. This is not a hotel in the conventional sense; there is no bellcap or night porter service—you will be given your own key to come and go. But it is a delightful, discreet place to stay and offers a high standard of accommodation for the money. The Antica Dimora is part of the Johanna & Johlea group (www.johanna.it), which includes two other good value accommodations on the same street (the Johlea and the Antica Dimora Johlea).

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Casa Howard
18 Via della Scala
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 06 6992 4555
info@casahoward.it
www.casahoward.com

Casa Howard more or less invented the luxury Italian guesthouse in its two original Roman locations. This discreet home-away-from-home exports that winning formula to Florence, offering high standards of comfort and service at great rates. The look is colorful and vaguely eccentric; furniture is an eclectic mix of antiques and custom-made pieces combined with fine fabrics and strong tints. No two of its 13 bedrooms are alike: The spacious and dramatic Drawing Room has black walls and white cornices, while the Hidden Room is a sexy little den with deep red walls hung with erotic Japanese prints (plus a sunken bath). The Fireplace Room has two working fireplaces, an oversize black-velvet sofa, and honey-colored silk curtains. There is no communal space to speak of (unless you count the Turkish bath), so breakfast is served on a tray in one's room. The location is central, just steps from the Santa Maria Novella church.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Continentale
6R Vicolo dell'Oro
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 27262
continentale@lungarnohotels.com
www.lungarnohotels.com

The newest of the four Ferragamo properties in Florence (Gallery Hotel Art, Hotel Lungarno, Lungarno Suites) opened in 2003, and is, in our eyes, the most effortlessly stylish. The decor is early '60s retro with a contemporary tweak, as in the slim Venetian blinds that frame the ringside view of the Ponte Vecchio, or the pink and black armchairs that look like they've just been vacated by Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant. The 43 bedrooms are more neutral, done up in shades of tan, beige, cream, and white. For the ultimate A Room With a View experience, bag one of the fifth-floor river-view rooms, such as number 503, a spacious superior double. But the real calling cards of the Continentale are its impeccable service, neither overfamiliar nor overformal, and its panoramic rooftop chill-out terrace, the Terrazza de' Consorti, where cocktails are served in summer.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Four Seasons Hotel Florence
99 Borgo Pinti
Florence
Italy 50121
Tel: 800 819 5053 (toll-free)
Tel: 39 055 26261
flo.reservations@fourseasons.com
www.fourseasons.com/florence

You could never accuse the Four Seasons group of rushing into things. It wasn't until the most prestigious private estate in central Florence came up for sale that they made their move into the city; even then, they spent seven years restoring Renaissance-era Palazzo della Gherardesca, its surrounding 11-acre park (easily the largest within the town walls), and a 16th-century convent before opening for business in June 2008. The result merits a visit even if you're not staying: The courtyard lobby, dominated by lively 15th-century bas-reliefs; the leafy botanical garden, with its yews and sequoias; and the tiny computer room, where guests can surf the net surrounded by 18th-century frescoes, are all worthy of a museum. From the American doorman in, service is impeccable, and the hotel is good with important little details like the freshly squeezed pineapple juice at breakfast. Bonuses include Florence's only genuine hotel spa, with treatments based on products made by the Santa Maria Novella pharmacy; a huge open-air pool; and a restaurant firmly rooted in Italy's seasonal Slow Food movement. The 116 bedrooms, in a bewildering range of categories, are well appointed and come with large marble-lined bathrooms; some guests will feel that the antique decor lacks brio, however. We prefer the rooms in the main palazzo to those in the rather isolated Conventino across the park—though the latter would work perfectly for a wedding party. If central location is a key factor, you may want to look elsewhere: It's a good 20-minute walk from the hotel to the Ponte Vecchio.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Gallery Hotel Art
5 Vicolo dell'Oro
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 27263
gallery@lungarnohotels.com
www.lungarnohotels.com

When the Ferragamo family opened this confidently stylish hotel in 1999, it caused quite a stir. Not only was it Florence's first "design hotel," but it had an enviable location, just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio. While it is no longer unique (its hip competitors now include an adjacent Ferragamo property, the Continentale), the Gallery continues to hold its own. Florentine interiors wunderkind Michele Bonan took care of the decor, which combines elements of East and West, and while the style is minimalist, it avoids being cold. Colors are muted, but dark African wood and soft lighting add warmth. Rotating art and photography exhibitions liven up the inviting public rooms; we especially like the reading room with its sofas and cashmere knee rugs. The 74 bedrooms are quite sober and masculine. The Fusion Bar is a fixture on the city's aperitivo circuit; foodwise, it serves—as its name suggests—fusion dishes such as foie gras nigiri sushi topped with chutney, plus brunch on weekends. The hotel is popular with fashion and film types, but don't worry: Regular tourists are tolerated too. Online rates offer significant discounts if you hit on the right dates.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Grand Hotel Villa Cora
18 Viale Machiavelli
Florence
Italy 50125
Tel: 39 055 22 87 90
villacora@wtbhotels.com
www.villacora.it

Old-world opulence is ingrained in this restored nineteenth-century mansion overlooking the Boboli Gardens. Built in 1868, the villa has been home to aristocrats from Napoleon III's widow, Eugenie, to an Egyptian pasha, and the remarkable staff sustain this noble aura with warmth and professionalism. The 46 rooms and suites fill three buildings on the estate, with the most lavish on the piano nobile of the main villa. Above that, spacious second-floor rooms are decorated (in some cases, exaggeratedly) with a rose motif honoring Empress Eugenie's love of the flower. The third floor is eclectic, with embroidered baldachins, soft lamps, and heavy satin drapes in deep gold, green, and burgundy. The smaller Villa Eugenia has modern frescoed ceilings and direct spa access, and La Follie is a two-bedroom former gatehouse with a private garden. Though a chauffeured car is at guests' disposal for the short ride to Florence's center, you may never feel the need to leave Villa Cora. It has two terrific restaurants—the elegant gourmet Il Pasha and a luminous garden restaurant next to the heated white-stone pool—as well as two bars, one with an impressive selection of cigars, and a full-service spa with a sauna, steam room, and massive whirlpool bath.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Helvetia & Bristol
2 Via dei Pescioni
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 26651
information.hbf@royaldemeure.com
www.royaldemeure.com/en/hotel_helvetia_bristol/storia.htm

One of central Florence's best small hotels, the Helvetia & Bristol has had a distinguished history, with Stravinsky, Gabriele d'Annunzio, Pirandello, and Bertrand Russell among its past guests. The public rooms and 67 bedrooms are filled with fine paintings and antiques, and the atmosphere is exclusive without being stuffy, largely thanks to the genuinely helpful staff. On the ground floor is an elegant salon hung with handsome oil paintings, where velvet sofas and armchairs are grouped around a huge pietra serena fireplace. Breakfast is served in the Belle Époque Winter Garden; for lunch or dinner, the Hostaria Bibendum restaurant mixes unfussy Tuscan dishes like Chianina beef tartare with more flashy Italian and international numbers. Minimalists will probably find the sumptuous decor in the bedrooms too opulent, and some rooms are seriously on the small side (try to upgrade from the poky classic double to a deluxe double, if possible). Splurge on a suite here—as Tom Ford reportedly used to do when he was designing for Gucci—and you'll be very happy; otherwise, you may find better value elsewhere.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel L'Orologio
24 Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 277380
info@hotelorologio.it
www.hotelorologioflorence.com

Don't even think of getting a taxi from the station: Hotel L'Orologio is a two-minute walk away, and yet such is the compact geography of central Florence that you're in one of the city's most charming, historic, and tranquil piazzas. Opened in 2009, L'Orologio is a well-priced property with the air of a gentlemen's club. The owner is a watch collector, and while the ubiquitous prints of high-end wristwatches (orologio means clock or watch) may feel a little gimmicky, the warm autumnal colours, deep leather sofas, polished mahogany paneling, and rich textiles in the public spaces and bedrooms lend the place an exclusive, stylish feel. There is a glorious fireplace in the main sitting room, where a fire burns throughout the colder months, and the bar, with its big wooden counter, is a good place for a light lunch. The rooftop breakfast room has fantastic views, but it's also rather small for this 54-bedroom hotel, and the hungry queues that form at peak times are not always handled with grace by the hassled staff. Splashing out on a room with a view will bring you face-to-face with the magnificent facade of Santa Maria Novella, or allow glimpses over the Florentine rooftops to Brunelleschi's Duomo.—Lee Marshall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Lungarno
14 Borgo San Jacopo
Florence
Italy 50125
Tel: 39 055 27261
bookings@lungarnohotels.com
www.lungarnohotels.com

With a stunning setting right on the south bank of the Arno just a few steps from the Ponte Vecchio, the 73-room Lungarno (another Ferragamo-owned property) is the first choice for travelers who prefer smaller hotels but don't want to sacrifice top-class personal service and supercentral location. Book early to secure one of the rooms with a terrace overlooking the river; the fifth- and sixth-floor suites are quite spacious and have big decks, while standards are much smaller. The ground-floor breakfast room and beautifully appointed lounge/bar—complete with white-jacketed servers and an impressive array of coffee table books—are right on the water. The Borgo San Jacopo Ristorante has a tiny terrace on the river and serves modish food, such as brodetto (a bouillabaisse-like fish stew with mussels, clams, squid, and sea bass), in a calm and elegant setting. On the other side of the Arno, you'll find its sister hotels Gallery Hotel Art, Continentale, and Lungarno Suites.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Hotel Savoy
7 Piazza della Repubblica
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 27351
reservations.savoy@roccofortehotels.com
www.roccofortehotels.com

Rescued from decay in the late '90s by Sir Rocco Forte, the Savoy is a stylish, upbeat hotel and one of the city's most popular, attracting both business and leisure clientele plus a fair share of celebs. Olga Polizzi, Rocco's designing sister, has created a characteristically stylish and calm ambience using notes of dark wood, splashes of loud pattern and color, and some striking modern art against neutral beige and cream. None of the 102 rooms are huge, but they are comfortable and well-equipped; most have walk-in closets. The best overlook the bustling Piazza della Repubblica from the upper floors; two of the suites have Turkish baths. Kids are well looked after here, too, with special touches like junior-size bathrobes and dedicated toiletries. In 2011 Italian superchef Fulvio Pierangelini took culinary direction of the smart, street-level L'Incontro Bar & Restaurant. But this doesn't mean fancy dishes at inflated prices: Pierangelini is on a fresh and local simplicity kick—expect dishes such as a light fry-up of squid and seasonal vegetables, or paccheri pasta with broccoli and burrata.—Updated by Lee Marshall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Il Salviatino
21 Via del Salviatino
Florence
Italy 50137
Tel: 39 055 90411
info@salviatino.com
www.salviatino.com

Il Salviatino sits in manicured formal gardens just within the city limits at the beginning of the road that winds up to the leafy village of Fiesole. The 45-room austerely elegant patrician villa opened as a hotel in October 2009, and since then has become a hit with high-end clients. The stately home decor is charming, but on top of that add perfect service (you're assigned a personal "service ambassador" on arrival), plus the excellence of the extras—including a very persuasive gourmet Tuscan restaurant and a Devrana spa. Staying here is probably as close as you'll get to the cultured expatriates-in-Florence spirit of a Henry James novel. Some rooms (such as the aptly named ground-floor Affresco Suite) have 19th-century frescoes, though overall the decor can be on the gloomy side, with dark wooden floors and furniture. For maximum light and the best outlook (though not more space), pay the extra for a Dome View Deluxe room. The Garden Suites, housed in a former greenhouse, are lighter in every sense, but frustratingly viewless.—Lee Marshall

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
In Piazza della Signoria
2 Via dei Magazzini
Florence
Italy 50122
Tel: 39 055 239 9546
info@inpiazzadellasignoria.com
www.inpiazzadellasignoria.it

Occupying the top three floors of a venerable old mansion on the edge of Florence's most famous square, this upmarket guesthouse has ten cozy rooms, most with at least a side view of the comings and goings below. The hosts give guests a genuinely warm welcome, and many leave as friends. The place is tastefully furnished in a fairly traditional, unfussy style, with antiques, elegant fabrics, canopied beds, a couple of four-posters, wood floors, and bright oriental rugs. Rooms are named after artists; if you want a full-on view of the piazza, book either Leonardo or Michelangelo. Breakfast is served at an enormous oval communal table or in your room. Prefer to cook for yourself? A couple of self-catering apartments are available on the top floor.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
J.K. Place
7 Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 264 5181
info@jkplace.com
www.jkplace.com

Since opening in 2003, J.K. Place has quickly become one of the city's most sought-after hotels, especially by a young, hip fashionable crowd. Occupying a tall, elegant town house with only 20 rooms, it has the dimensions and atmosphere of a discreetly luxurious private residence. Huge mirrors, drawings, and engravings hang on the walls, and fine antiques rub shoulders with lacquered Oriental pieces and '50s lamps. Flickering candles give everything a warm glow. Bedrooms—ranging from cozy little dens to three spacious master rooms—are built around a small internal courtyard hung with Moroccan lamps. At the top are the panoramic penthouse and a roof terrace/bar. It's seriously stylish here but not stuffy, thanks largely to the young staff, which strikes a perfect balance between immaculate service and friendliness. Since 2004, the adjacent J.K. Lounge has become an essential stop on the Florentine aperitivo circuit. Upstairs, it's styled in the same antique-chic idiom as the hotel, but the basement—where DJs spin cuts as evening turns to night—is a glowing pink chill-out vault. Dress accordingly.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Lungarno Suites
14 Lungarno Acciaiuoli
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 2726 4000
suites@lungarnohotels.com
www.lungarnohotels.com

These 44 super-stylish, fully-serviced apartments are ideal for anyone looking for the comfort and service of an upscale hotel but also craving a bit of independence. The suites are located on the north bank of the Arno just west of the Ponte Vecchio, so views from the huge picture windows of those facing the river are fabulous; those on the top floors have terraces. The style is modern and clean, but colors are warm. Each apartment has a well-equipped kitchen where you can indulge your Tuscan cooking fantasies, and staff will even do the shopping for you. If you're feeling lazy, you can order meals to be brought in from the Fusion Bar at the adjacent Gallery Hotel.

$199 or less
Editor's Pick
NH Porta Rossa
19 Via Porta Rossa
Florence , Italy
50123
Tel: 39 055 271 0911
nhportarossa@nh-hotels.com
www.nh-hotels.com/nh/en/hotels/italy/florence/nh-porta-rossa.html

This city-center hotel, housed in an aristocratic 16th-century town house, was once an eccentric sort of place, with shabby antique decor, uncertain service but plenty of quirky charm. A takeover by Spanish hotel group NH has brought the place up to international standards, forfeiting some of its individuality in the process, but bringing benefits such as plumbing and air-con that actually work and pleasant, well-trained staff. The stylish design scheme is based on beige, cream, and antique-wood background tones, with red armchairs and sofas adding splashes of color. Some of the 72 rooms have traces of 19th-century frescoes, and the ground-floor breakfast room and bar, with their marble floors and stained-glass windows, exude old-fashioned elegance. But the Porta Rossa's real trump card is the Torre Monalda suite—a bedroom in the 12th-century tower that the palazzo was built around, with 360-degree views over Florentine rooftops and the countryside beyond. It's accessed by 60 steep stone steps, so this romantic refuge is strictly for the fit and adventurous.—Lee Marshall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Palazzo Magnani Feroni
5 Borgo San Frediano
Florence
Italy 50124
Tel: 39 055 239 9544
info@palazzomagnaniferoni.com
www.palazzomagnaniferoni.com

Situated in the lively Oltrarno district, this grand palazzo was home to the owner's family until he decided to convert it into an upmarket hotel. All the characteristics of its noble origins are still in place, and you will find grand salons filled with fine family antiques and pictures, elaborate frescoes, original boxed ceilings, old terra-cotta floors, and glittering chandeliers. There's plenty of communal space: a plant-filled courtyard, a billiard room, various sitting rooms, and a fabulous rooftop terrace with views over the city and beyond. The only drawback (though for some this may be a plus) is that this "all-suite palace" has the air of a residence rather than a hotel—its echoing chambers sometimes feel eerily empty, however reception (and room service) are present 24/7. The 13 suites are enormous and each has a separate sitting room. The most charming room, however, is also the smallest; a romantic little boudoir with floor-to-ceiling frescoes and a small private garden.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Palazzo Niccolini Al Duomo
2 Via dei Servi
Florence
Italy 50122
Tel: 39 055 282 412
info@niccolinidomepalace.com
www.niccolinidomepalace.com

Want to do the aristocratic palazzo experience at a mid-range price? This new-but-old centro storico option, in the building where sculptor Donatello had his workshop, is the answer. Located opposite Brunelleschi's Duomo—which fills up the view from many of the windows—the palazzo dates back to the 14th century, but the stunning allegorical frescoes that adorn the public areas and guest rooms were painted in the 1760s. Current owner Ginevra Niccolini is usually on hand to welcome guests, and the ambience is warm despite the museumlike surroundings. Most of the 13 rooms (three of them suites) are large, and those that aren't frescoed are still pretty sumptuous, with handsome antique furniture, brocade curtains and bedcovers, and the occasional chandelier. The huge, elegant drawing room—well-stocked with books and magazines—feels like something out of a Henry James novel.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Palazzo Vecchietti
4 Via degli Strozzi
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 230 2802
info@palazzovecchietti.com
www.palazzovecchietti.com/en/

Florentine golden-boy interior designer Michele Bonan (JK Place and the city's brace of Lungarno hotels) is also behind Palazzo Vecchietti, a chic centro storico sanctuary. This place could not be better located for access to all the major sights. Interiors have a suave home-from-home ambience, with management and staff who book restaurants, tours, and museum tickets at the drop of a hint. Public spaces—from the high, glassed-in courtyard/living room to the congenial breakfast room with its long communal table and tempting buffet—are understated but welcoming. The 14 rooms, suites, and apartments, all of which are large by Italian standards, are the last word in contemporary-classic elegance: Exceptionally comfortable beds have exquisite linens, and even the least fancy rooms come with elegant sitting areas, fully functional kitchenette corners, and Nespresso machines. Two top-floor suites have delightful terraces; views from some humbler rooms are considerably more limited, but this may not bother guests who plan to devote most of their time to the innumerable designer boutiques and glorious sights and galleries within walking distance.—Lee Marshall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Relais Santa Croce
87 Via Ghibellina
Florence
Italy 50122
Tel: 39 055 234 2230
info@relaisantacroce.com
www.relaisantacroce.com

Inaugurated in spring 2005, this 24-room hotel offers luxurious accommodation and contemporary style in the shell of a grand, 18th-century palazzo close to the Duomo. The first-floor public rooms are particularly impressive, especially the vast Music Room, which has lofty frescoed ceilings, elegantly decorated stucco panels, and an original wood floor. The two mammoth Royal Suites on the first-floor piano nobile are decorated in sober classical style, but the double rooms and regular suites on the upper floors are modern in design, with clean, sober lines lightened by quirky design details, such as walls decorated with boiserie panels. There is a decent restaurant in the hotel that's justly proud of its "Fiorentina" steak, but you may prefer to eat at Enoteca Pinchiorri, one of Italy's most celebrated restaurants, which is housed on the ground floor of the same building.

$200-$299
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Residence Hilda
40 Via dei Servi
Florence
Italy 50122
Tel: 39 055 288 021
info@residencehilda.com
www.residencehilda.com

Residence Hilda offers 12 stylish, self-catering accommodations at reasonable rates. Situated just north of the Duomo, well-located for both sightseeing and shopping, the pristine modern apartments are done out in shades of white with blond wood floors and spare but well-chosen furnishings (Philippe Starck chairs, for example). The smaller apartments are adequate for two, but the larger ones are quite spacious. All, however, have kitchens, and groceries can be ordered in.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Residenza del Moro
15 Via del Moro
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 290 884
info@residenzadelmoro.com
www.residenzadelmoro.com

The latest addition to the city's roster of unique hotels is this 11-suite jewel, situated in a 16th-century palazzo just around the corner from the shopping street of Via Tornabuoni. The place belongs to Gilberto Sandretto, one of Italy's leading collectors of contemporary art, and among the Baroque stuccowork, baldacchino beds, and trompe l'oeil frescoes are works by Nan Goldin, Roni Horn, Andy Goldsworthy, and other international artists. The individually decorated suites, however, stress the antique rather than the modern, with splashes of strong color and opulent touches such as the green silk headboard in the Bengala Suite or the hidden whirlpool bath in the Moro Suite. This is one of Florence's most exclusive hotels, and the punishing prices (starting at more than $1,000, for the deliciously theatrical Alcove Suite) reflect its cachet.

$300-$399
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
Riva Lofts
98 Via Baccio Bandinelli
Florence
Italy 50142
Tel: 39 055 7130 272
info@rivalofts.com
www.rivalofts.com

A relaxed urban refuge, Riva Lofts is the personal project of globe-trotting Florentine architect Claudio Nardi. This former factory on the southern bank of the Arno was Nardi's private studio until he decided to turn it into one of Italy's most original design hotels, in 2006. Run by his daughter Alice, the guesthouse describes itself as a "home for modern travelers"; Nardi likes to leave the walls and ceilings bare, focusing the eye on details like antique leather armchairs or canopy beds veiled by floor-to-ceiling white lace. The eight suites vary greatly in size; we prefer the larger upstairs studios, especially 7 and 9 (the smaller, ground-floor rooms that give on to the entrance courtyard can seem a little dark and claustrophobic). Free bicycles compensate for Riva's distance from the centro storico ( at least half an hour away on foot). Although a public thoroughfare comes between the guesthouse and its river frontage, the on-site garden is a lovely, tree-shaded spot for reading or sunbathing—while, perhaps, sipping a beer from the honesty bar. You can even enjoy a dip in the "metaphysical" swimming pool—so named, we assume, because it is bigger on striking modernist geometry than on size.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
St. Regis Florence
1 Piazza Ognissanti
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 27161
stregisflorence@stregis.com
www.stregisflorence.com

Starwood has nailed the new luxury spirit with some finesse in this intimately opulent makeover of Florence's former Grand Hotel. Inaugurated in October 2011, the Arno-side 81-room property has a country-house-style library and lobby (where you check in at a couple of large tables) and affable service. Outside of the austerely fashionista one-off Bottega Veneta suite, room decor celebrates Florentine style in retro details like the landscape and cityscape murals in some rooms, and in the swish but sometimes overloaded classic contemporary furniture and ornaments. Angle for an Arno-facing room: The view upriver toward the Ponte Vecchio is breathtaking. Housed inside the glassed-in ground-floor winter garden, dominated by a huge Murano chandelier, the hotel's Etichetta Pinchiorri restaurant is now under the tutelage of legendary Florence eatery Enoteca Pinchiorri—though here the Mediterranean dishes are a little simpler and less punishing on the wallet.—Lee Marshall

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Villa La Vedetta
78 Viale Michelangelo
Florence
Italy 50125
Tel: 39 055 681 631
info@villalavedetta.com
www.villalavedettahotel.com

Five-star Villa La Vedetta sits proudly on a hill south of the Arno, just a stone's throw from Piazzale Michelangelo. There are stunning views from the front-facing bedrooms, especially at sunset, though only from the pool terrace does the panorama take in the full sweep of the city across to the Duomo. The 19th-century gray-painted villa houses 18 luxurious rooms and suites and a fine-dining restaurant, Onice—though on our last visit, the fabulous creative Italian food was let down by excruciatingly slow service. Inside, the grand decor is a mix of traditional and modern, with marble-laden public spaces and elaborate flower arrangements. The bedrooms are more intimate. If you want to enjoy Florence without being in the thick of the tourist hordes, Villa La Vedetta is an exclusive and very comfortable place from which to do so—the downside being the lack of restaurants, bars, and general animation in the immediate vicinity.

$400 or more
Editor's Pick
Hotel Photo
The Westin Excelsior
3 Piazza Ognissanti
Florence
Italy 50123
Tel: 39 055 271 51
excelsiorflorence@westin.com
www.starwoodhotels.com/westin/property/overview/index.html?propertyID=43

The Excelsior vies with the Grand Hotel, its neighbor across the square, for the title of Grande Dame of the Florentine accommodation scene. Rivalry has been reduced to a minimum now that both are Starwood properties, but there are still differences in character, and for our money the Excelsior has the edge in terms of old-world charm. Though certain features (such as Heavenly Beds and the Westin Workout gym) are common to the brand, the Excelsior asserts its own sense of style in the opulent antique decor of the public areas and the staff's impeccable green livery. Renovated in 1997, the 171 guest rooms are warmly elegant, and most are pretty spacious by Italian standards. Big spenders can splash out on the presidential suite, with its huge terrace overlooking the Arno. The hotel is a little out of the way (a couple of bridges east of the Ponte Vecchio), but there are plenty of decent places to eat in the vicinity. The hotel's restaurant Orun, with its light Tuscan cuisine, offers a good alternative when you've been tramping around museums all day. Note that breakfast is not generally included in the room rate, and can be pricey.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.