A converted monastery in the Fiesole hills, a Renaissance villa overlooking the Boboli Gardens, a period townhouse on the banks of the Arno – Florence’s luxury hotels are destinations in their own right. Here’s where to check in for a once-in-a-lifetime stay in the Tuscan capital.
Belmond Villa San Michele
Belmond Villa San Michele is a former medieval friary | Courtesy of Belmond Villa San Michele / Hotels.com
The view of the Florence skyline on the drive up to Villa San Michele is enough to bowl anyone over, but nothing can prepare you for the experience of arriving at this luxurious former monastery in the Fiesole hills. The main building, which boasts a facade attributed to Michelangelo, overlooks an unbelievable panorama of Florence, foregrounded by cypress-lined roads and backdropped by the Chianti hills. Spacious suites lead directly out onto immaculately manicured Italian gardens, while the private Limonaia suite and villa comes with three bedrooms and its own garden, complete with plunge pool and waterfall.
If you want to stay in the heart of the city, you won’t do much better than Hotel Lungarno. This opulent five-star hotel, housed in a period townhouse, sits squarely between Ponte Santa Trinita and the famous Ponte Vecchio, with many of its rooms directly facing the Arno River. At this, the flagship hotel of the Lungarno Collection – a chain of boutique hotels from the family of Italian designer Salvatore Ferragamo – each room and lobby is suitably stylish, with walls decked with fine art from the family’s private collection. The hotel also boasts a Michelin-star restaurant, Borgo San Jacopo.
For a taste of the Tuscan countryside without leaving the city, Villa Cora is the perfect place to stay. Housed in a 19th-century Renaissance villa, the hotel is situated in Florence’s buzzing Oltrarno neighbourhood, just a 10-minute walk from the historic Boboli Gardens. Inside, cloisters and various suites are adorned with trompe-l’œil frescoes, while guests looking to enjoy the Florentine sunshine can explore the surrounding Italian gardens or take a dip in the huge outdoor pool.
Another luxurious property from the Lungarno Collection, Portrait Firenze sits directly across the river from Hotel Lungarno and is a short stroll from the Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and many more of the city’s most famous attractions. From the marble bathrooms to the retro photographs, fans of interior design will appreciate the understated elegance of each suite, the work of Florentine architect and designer Michele Bönan.
On the northern bank of the Arno River lies this Renaissance palace turned grand luxury hotel. Each room is fit for royalty, bedecked with chandeliers, gilt furniture and four-poster beds with opulent canopies. On-site Michelin-star restaurant Winter Garden plates up gourmet cuisine under a gorgeous stained-glass ceiling, and guests can also enjoy the library and Clarins spa. While all the bedrooms are as luxurious as you’d expect, try to nab a river-view room – the vistas toward the Ponte Vecchio are simply superb.
Guests will feel as if they are house-sitting for aristocracy at this palatial bed and breakfast overlooking the Torrigiani Gardens. With only 14 rooms, and the large gardens closed to the public, there’s a feeling of exclusivity – not to mention tranquillity – when staying at AdAstra. Venture outside the garden walls, though, and you’ll find yourself in Oltrarno, one of Florence’s liveliest neighbourhoods. Each room has a unique colour scheme and comes with a free-standing bath.
The Four Seasons Hotel is a verdant hideaway in the northeast of Florence. The hotel’s two buildings – a Renaissance palazzo and a 16th-century convent – are hugged by large gardens, offering a relaxing breather from the tourist crowds. For a truly decadent stay, opt for the Presidential or Royal suite; both come decked out with antique furniture, chandeliers and frescoed ceilings.