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Florence might be one of the most visited cities in the Western world, but it’s not all about bus tours and big-chain hotels. Look hard enough and there are plenty of places to escape the madding crowd, and the same applies when you’re picking accommodation. Here are the best boutique hotels in Florence.
Centrally located on the bustling Piazza Santa Maria Novella, J.K. Place is one of Italy’s first and most sought-after boutique hotels. From its eclectic mix of retro furniture to the framed art tastefully hung on the walls, this townhouse is a treasure trove of classic-contemporary design. Spread across three floors, the 20 guest rooms are decorated in whites and feature antique fireplaces, hardwood flooring and four poster beds. Even if you can’t stay here, the J.K. Lounge is worth a visit. It’s the perfect place for a romantic dinner for two, serving everything from traditional pasta to club sandwiches in an intimate setting with an open fire.
Overlooking the largest private garden in Europe, AdAstra is a highly original boutique hotel with the homely atmosphere of an eccentric aristocrat’s apartment. Inside, vast chandeliers, various frescoes and creaky parquet floors mingle with upcycled furniture and pieces of Italian design from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s. The hotel’s 14 rooms are elegant and understated, again with an emphasis on design. An ample breakfast buffet of locally sourced cheeses, prosciutto and moka coffee is served from the sunny salon each morning. Afterwards, guests can recline on the sublime wraparound terrace.
Situated on the south bank of the Arno, a short distance outside of Florence, Villa La Massa occupies a 16th-century house that once belonged to the Medicis. With its pietra serena staircases, vaulted ceilings and fine brocades in rich jewel tones, this multi-layered palazzo exudes opulence. Rooms are designed in classic Florentine style with deep-red carpeting and four-poster beds draped in Renaissance-esque canopies. Pan-Italian dishes pair perfectly with a riverfront view at the charming Il Verrocchio restaurant. An aperitivo from the red-painted hotel bar, with its signature cocktails from Santa Maria Novella, is also a must.
In the centre of the trendy Oltrarno neighbourhood, SoprArno Suites is a stylish guest house that inhabits the top three floors of a handsome 16th-century mansion. A design lover’s dream, its authentic Florentine interiors are furnished with a mixture of vintage pieces and rare salvaged items. Somehow, despite their eclecticism, these design choices perfectly complement the original frescoes that still adorn many of the ceilings. The rustic-chic aesthetic continues into the boutique’s 10 spacious rooms, each of which is centred on a unique theme, such as the Viaggiatore suite (meaning traveller), which features walls covered in framed maps and dark hardwood floors. The wood-panelled bistro, SottArno, serving home-made cakes and fresh-pressed paninis like the sweet mortadella with rosemary, is the perfect place for a quick coffee or a lunchtime snack.
Ideally located in the city centre, down an unassuming sidestreet, Palazzo di Camugliano is a boutique hotel housed inside a 16th-century manor. This is classic Florentine luxury, with interiors that boast original marble flooring, lavish frescoes and stone-carved fireplaces. Packed with precious antique heirlooms and various coveted objets, this former family home manages to combine elegance with a comfortable, lived-in appeal. The hotel’s 10 piano nobile suites range a lot in size and shape, from single rooms with vaulted ceilings and rustic terracotta tiles to a four-bedroom apartment with a fully equipped kitchenette. Prepared to order and served tableside, the ample breakfast is offered until 11.30am – perfect for a lazy lie-in.
Across the street from the wide-open Piazza Indipendenza, Palazzo Casti 1874, which opened in 2015, is a swanky modern boutique hotel inside a divine 19th-century mansion. Lofty ceilings, original frescoes and an elegant pietra serena staircase lend character to the stylish contemporary furnishings. The hotel’s 50 guest rooms are spread over three levels with blond hardwood flooring and colours of relaxing grey and beige paintwork offset by brilliant white wood panelling. Relax under the shade of an umbrella in the Limonaia garden or treat yourself to a massage at the spa. After a long day of sightseeing, a dip in the indoor-outdoor pool is a great way to refresh and rejuvenate.
South of Piazza Santa Croce in the eastern area of Florence, Relais Santa Croce occupies the sumptuous 18th-century Palazzo Ciofi-Jacometti. Its public spaces are impressive with soaring ceilings, lofty arches and grand staircases. The 24 comfortable suites are finished in mod-classic style with muted earthy tones and herringbone wood flooring. Grab a cocktail in the Music Room, a grandiose salon with original frescoes and a carved stone hearth, for your aperitivo, then sit down to a gourmet dinner at on-site restaurant Guelfi e Ghibellini, where local favourites include duck terrine with cognac, and chestnut tagliatelle with pigeon. Real foodies also shouldn’t miss Tuscany’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant, Enoteca Pinchiorri, which shares a building with the hotel.