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NH Porta Rossa, Florence 

19 Via Porta Rossa
Florence , Italy
Tel: 39 055 271 0911
view web site ›'s insider take:

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

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