Oltrarno is quickly becoming Florence’s hippest neighbourhood, and its wealth of accommodation options is just one of the many reasons why visitors are starting to explore south of the Arno. From five star hotels to quirky little B&Bs, there’s something to suit every budget, so take a stroll on the path less trodden, and head for Oltrarno’s artisans’ quarter, you won’t be disappointed.
Hostel Santa Monaca
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The Hostel Santa Monaca is a great place for travellers and groups of friends, with dorm rooms that sleep up to 20 people. The hostel retains the traditional Florentine old-world charm, located in a 15th Century convent. It’s within walking distance of Santa Maria Novella, Florence’s main train station, making it the ideal place for those who only have a few days to spend in town and want to minimise all travelling time. The two large common areas are a welcome feature for both lone travellers and families.
As is implied by the name of this apartment, the Terrazza De Medici has one truly special feature: its terrace overlooking the Medici haunts of Piazza Frescobaldi and Ponte Santa Trinita. With a sunshade, table and chairs, you won’t have to go far to find the perfect lunch spot. A real suntrap, it’s also the ideal location to enjoy the sunset over the Arno with an early evening aperitivo before dinner. Inside, it is a beautiful and ornately decorated home, adorned with Italian trinkets and fabulous paintings.
This curious little bed and breakfast perfectly encapsulates the quirks of the Oltrarno: both modest and unassuming, yet somehow majestic in its history and culture. The San Frediano Mansion is located in a beautiful 15th century building, decorated with a magnificent fresco on the ground floor, which provides quite a startling beginning to your Florentine sojourn. Staff are friendly and keen to help you arrange an itinerary for your stay, as well as book museum tickets to try and avoid the queues, which can be quite daunting in the summer months.
Founded by Salvatore Ferragamo, this hotel chain promises, and delivers, everything you would expect from such a renowned designer. The Hotel Lungarno is precisely the place for you if you’re keen to throw yourself into the Italian high fashion way of life, and with interiors designed by Italian architect Michele Bönan you’ll see elegance everywhere you turn. One of the great luxuries of time spent in Florence is an early morning stroll across the piazza, ducking into one of the city’s many cafés for a croissant and a cappuccino. However, for those staying at the Hotel Lungarno, many say something even better is on offer: guests rave about the wonderful breakfast it puts on.
Located on the edge of the Oltrarno neighbourhood, Hotel Pitti Palace al Ponte Vecchio is pretty much as close as you can get to the River Arno and the Ponte Vecchio without being in the water. Try to get a room with a balcony, as you won’t want to miss a minute of the beautiful views from this hotel. But failing that, head to the terrace wine bar for an aperitivo before dinner, and soak up the stunning scenery. The retractable covers on the balcony will allow you to choose whether you take shade from the unfailing sunshine or bask in it.
The Ponte Vecchio Penthouse is located in the ancient oratory of Saint Mary Magdalene, a fantastic building which has been well-maintained so as to keep its original charm. The building has eight apartments, all decorated elegantly and tastefully, and furnished with all the necessary amenities. Clementina, who runs the apartments, is wonderfully efficient and helpful in arranging your stay, and ensures the apartments are always clean and secure. However, it’s the location that you’re really paying for, as the apartments are a mere five minute walk from all of Florence’s main attractions.
Located in a 12th Century Belfredelli tower, these Luxury Medieval Tower Apartments offer the perfect fusion of medieval romance and modern, contemporary design features. They can accommodate up to five people so it’s the perfect family hideaway. The light, airy interiors create a serene environment in which to relax after a hard day’s shopping or sightseeing. The home’s fascinating history makes it a great place to go and really indulge in the culture of one of Europe’s finest Renaissance cities.
Probably the snazziest hotel in Florence, UNA Hotel Vittoria is a unique work of design and innovation. The four star accommodation boasts an amazing array of wallpapers and architectural features; the elongated table in the dining room encourages guest interaction, and the hotel is dotted with exciting sculptures that wouldn’t be out of place in one of Florence’s modern art museums. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, you’ll discover the Renaissance paintings adorning the halls, completing the fusion of traditional and new-age decor. Try not to get too waylaid by the hotel’s beauty, there are plenty of things to be seen outside.
The area surrounding Santo Spirito, a beautiful Renaissance church in Oltrarno, has traditionally been seen as somewhat less desirable than other areas of Florence. However, the recent surge of restaurant and hotel openings has given the area a renewed appeal. The Santo Spirito Apartments Halldis Apartments offer a great place to stay for those looking to explore a less well known, but equally beautiful, part of the city, and with their high ceilings and elegant decor, you’ll struggle to find a better place to stay. The relaxed, calm atmosphere surrounding these apartments will provide a welcome relief from the hustle and bustle of the Uffizi and the Duomo.
Casa Pucci B&B has a reputation for excellent customer service, and visitors often comment on the friendly and attentive staff. From here, it is only a short walk to the various sights of Florence, many of which you will be able to see from your bedroom window. The Boboli Gardens are an iconic landmark, and offer a calm, lush isolation from the busy streets of the city. It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy hot summer day, and moreover they’re only a short walk from this lovely little bed and breakfast.