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Riva Lofts, Florence 

98 Via Baccio Bandinelli
Italy 50142
Tel: 39 055 7130 272
view web site ›'s insider take:

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.

From the editors of Condé Nast Traveler:

Designed by Florentine architect Claudio Nardi, this striking nine-room property, in a refurbished nineteenth-century factory on the southern bank of the Arno just removed from the city center, is a fresh counterpart to the city's more prevalent traditional design. The combination of spare, loftlike rooms with in-suite kitchens and a common room with an honor bar and a fireplace creates the feel of stylish Florentine apartments. Nardi's design mixes natural woods and various stone surfaces with an eclectic assortment of furniture that includes white leather sofas, cowhide rugs, and oversize lamps and mirrors. Alice Nardi, the resourceful owner (and the architect's daughter), can recommend everything from little-known restaurants to a barbershop, and the hotel has bicycles to help get you around town.

—2007 Hot List

When to go: Early April and May for perfect weather.

Which room to book: Suite 4 has an incredible view of the Arno, the Parco delle Cascine, and Brunelleschi's cupola from its living room. The bedroom has a concealed peephole in the wall, so you can see the same scenery. 

Amenities: Bar/lounge, Pool

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