Florence might be one of the most visited cities in the Western world, with historic sites like the Uffizi Gallery, Ponte Vecchio and the stunning Duomo drawing crowds year on year. But it’s not all about bus tours and big-chain hotels – Florence is full of unique places to stay. From stylish, rustic-chic mansions to stunning 16th-century palazzi, we’ve picked out the best boutique hotels in Florence.
With its central location on the bustling Piazza Santa Maria Novella, J.K. Place is one of Italy’s 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. The J.K. Lounge is the perfect place for a romantic dinner for two, in an intimate setting with an open fire.
Overlooking the largest private garden in Europe, AdAstra is a 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.
In 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, which complement the original frescoes that still adorn many of the ceilings. The boutique has 10 spacious rooms, each of which is centred on a unique theme – including the Viaggiatore suite (meaning traveller), which features framed maps and dark hardwood floors. The bistro, SottArno, serves home-made cakes and fresh-pressed panini like the sweet mortadella with rosemary.
Across the street from the wide-open Piazza Indipendenza, Palazzo Casti 1874 is a swanky modern boutique hotel inside a divine 19th-century mansion. Opened in 2015, the lofty ceilings, original frescoes and elegant pietra serena staircase lend character to the stylish contemporary furnishings of the hotel’s 50 guest rooms. 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 pool is a great way to refresh and rejuvenate.
In the eastern area of Florence, Relais Santa Croce occupies the sumptuous 18th-century Palazzo Jacometti Ciofi. 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, then sit down to a gourmet dinner at on-site restaurant Guelfi e Ghibellini. Real foodies also shouldn’t miss Tuscany’s only three-Michelin-star restaurant, Enoteca Pinchiorri, which shares a building with the hotel.
On the south bank of the Arno just 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.
On an unassuming side street in the city centre, 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, 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.