Florence is rated by Travel + Leisure readers #1 City in Europe for this poll. “Just go,” said one reader, with another adding, “The greatest art in the world in one place.” Iconic sights include the Uffizi Gallery, the Duomo, and the Galleria dell’Accademia. And then there’s the food: “Endless bread, thin-crust pizza, and the thickest Florentine steak you can imagine,” said another reader.
While several notable hotels, including the St. Regis and Rocco Forte’s Hotel Savoy didn’t make it on the five highest rated hotels, according to the readers, the difference between the top spot – which is shared between Villa Cora and Hotel Lungarno is an achingly small two points on a scale of 100, so it probably comes down to preferences for location and the actual suite you select, which is what we highlight below.
1. Villa Cora
Scoring a 93.00 (pictured in the lead), tied for first with T+L readers, Villa Cora has 45 rooms and suites, divided into the main villa and in two adjacent buildings, which were restored with the aim of conserving the original architectural style as much as possible. In the main villa, there are 29 suites and rooms divided into four floors, each with its own style. The first, known as the “noble floor” is characterized by its frescoes; the second dedicated to the ex-empress Eugenia widow of Napoleon III and to the roses that were her favorite flower: the third is the floor dedicated to the Orient, in Moorish spirit. Travel + Leisure says, “The trompe l’oeil frescoes and classical statues at Villa Cora, a 19th-century villa overlooking the Boboli Gardens, are no less impressive. After you’ve finished gawking, sip champagne on the rooftop that looks out over the garden, relax in the spa, or lounge around the heated outdoor pool, shaded by towering oak trees. When you’re ready to do some exploring, head to the nearby Piazzale Michelangelo for a panoramic view over the city.”
Dedicated to the Japanese Emperor Akihito who stayed at Villa Cora in 1982, the suite is located on the Nobel Floor and occupies the whole facade of the villa with a view of the city and of the internal garden. The room also has a small balcony. The Imperial suite features original frescoes made by Pietrasanta and Samoggia on top of the inlaid wooden floor rests a majestic red velvet four-poster bed. The room also has a living room area with antique furniture. The Imperial Suite has a second room that is frescoed as well, and has blue four-poster bed. Both rooms have bathrooms made with Carrara marble. For more suites, click here.
2. Hotel Lungarno
Also tied for tops with T+L readers, 2017 marked 50 years since its opening, but things have changed big time so to speak. Hotel Lungarno has been completely renewed and reopened its doors after six months of renovation last year. Without sacrificing its charm, the blue, white and leather found in its lobby reflect the style of an elegant boat navigating on the Arno with the Ponte Vecchio as its backdrop. The living room suspended over the river provides a perfect space to relax and Borgo San Jacopo, the 1-star Michelin restaurant is a must spot for at least one dinner. Travel + Leisure says, “A swanky, residential-style gem on the Arno…The flagship hotel of the Ferragamo Lungarno Collection — has one of the most covetable addresses in the entire city. And after an extensive revamp to the lobby and guest rooms in 2017, the 65-key property has never looked better. Interiors blend residential elegance and nautical flair, with blue and white striped carpeting, white boiserie, and a museum-worthy art collection including works by the likes of Picasso, Cocteau, and Bueno.”
Portrait Penthouse Floor
The 2,939 sq. ft. Penthouse Floor comprises all four 6th-floor suites, giving the entire top floor of the hotel for you and your friends. By the Ponte Vecchio and overlooking the river, it is more a chic city-centre dwelling than a hotel suite. On the full-facade terrace enjoy the dancing lights of the river or be enchanted by the rose tints of the sun on the heights of the surrounding hills. The floor has a maximum occupancy of 10 and with a total of five bedrooms, six oversize bathrooms and four lounge-dining areas. The suites overlook both the Arno and an internal courtyard. For more suites, click here.
3. Belmond Villa San Michele
A very close third less than a point behind the top scorers, with 45 rooms and suites, set on rolling Tuscan hills, Belmond Villa San Michele features frescoes, ancient carvings and a façade attributed to Michelangelo. In the 15th century it was a monastery and its location is away from the bustle but just 15 minutes to the center via a free shuttle. If you like to be in the kitchen, try the Cookery School, where hands-on lessons are taught by the Chef.
Travel + Leisure says, “From its hillside perch just below the village of Fiesole, a northern suburb of Florence, the Villa San Michele overlooks the wide sprawl of the city. The heart of the hotel is a Renaissance-era ex-monastery, its facade is said to have been designed by Michelangelo. Around half the luxurious bedrooms and suites are housed here; others are in modern annexes in the fabulous terraced gardens. Up here, all is peaceful and quiet, a world away from the tourist throng below: there is a fine pool at the top of the property; a gourmet restaurant and bar in the loggia with views over the city; and lots of nooks and crannies, both inside and out, for relaxation.”
Limonaia Suite and Villa
The 2,152 sq. ft. Limonaia Suite and Villa has an additional 2,690 sq. ft. terrace spanning two floors. Located in the former Orangeries in the Italian gardens, the 720 sq. ft. Limonaia Suite enjoys views over Florence and the surrounding hills. It has a private garden with a heated, stone plunge pool. The panoramic bedroom is equipped with king-size or twin beds and the marble bathroom has both a walk-in shower and separate bathtub. This suite can be connected on request to a Garden Suite, linked by a staircase, complete with spacious bathrooms and wardrobes. These in turn are connected to a third suite through the garden, which creates a one-of-a-kind “private villa within the Villa”. This is ideal for families, groups of friends or for special occasions, such as weddings or exclusive parties. In total the Livonia Villa comprises three bedrooms with king size or twin beds, three living rooms, three bathrooms with separate bathtub and shower plus a courtesy bathroom, a small kitchen and a private plunge pool in the top-floor garden. For more rooms and suites, click here.
4. Four Seasons Hotel Firenze
For brand fans, there is only one choice in Florence, and if you like Four Seasons, this is without doubt one of the group’s top properties both from a hard and soft product standpoint.
Travel + Leisure says, “Florence’s 116-room Four Seasons hotel is located in grand, 15th-century Palazzo della Gherardesca, which stands in the largest privately owned garden in the city. The city’s first resort hotel, public spaces include monumental frescoed halls with magnificent stucco work, vast chandeliers, and museum-worthy antiques, while rooms range from opulent Renaissance suites to others in discreetly elegant, neoclassical style. Facilities include a superb spa using delicious Santa Maria Novella products, a large outdoor pool, and the Michelin-starred Il Palagio restaurant, one of the finest in the city. Part of the hotel is housed in the more sober Conventino (an ex-convent) on the far side of the park. Service—as you would expect from the brand—is top-notch.”
Royal Suite Della Gherardesca
Painted vaulted ceilings above, original Capodimonte Maioliche-style ceramic floor at your feet, and 17th-century frescoes and park views everywhere you look make this truly an opulent suite. The 2,518 sq. ft. suite is on the main floor and includes one full marble bathroom and guest powder room. Views are of the park. For more suites, click here.
5. Hotel Brunelleschi
Situated in the heart of the city, this 4-star hotel offers two restaurants with 96 rooms and suites. Amongst all the various hotels in Florence, hotel Brunelleschi is the only one that was created within a circular Byzantin tower of a 6th century and a medieval church, entirely reconstructed with a special care for maintaining the original characteristics of the two buildings. Travel + Leisure says, “Named for the Italian Renaissance architect and engineer Filippo Brunelleschi, this historic property in the heart of Florence occupies the Byzantine Pagliazza Tower. (Fans of Dan Brown may recognize it as Robert Langon’s hotel of choice in The DaVinci Code and Inferno.) The 96 guestrooms range from deluxe doubles to the 1,237-square-foot penthouse apartment. Rooms have a modern aesthetic, with parquet floors, marble bathrooms, four-posted beds, and velvet headboards (in bright solid colors such as purple and red). At the on-site, seven-table restaurant Santa Elisabetta, exposed stone walls and wood-beamed ceilings set the stage for Florentine cuisine. The Tower Lounge Bar is the place for afternoon tea, a midday snack, and pre- or post-dinner cocktails.”
Not the largest suite at 592 sq. ft., the pool suite offers an outdoor Jacuzzi with views of Brunelleschi’s Cupola, Giotto Tower and Palazzo Vecchio from the 225 sq. ft. terrace. The duplex suite includes an entry floor with a living room and a full marble bathroom, and a first level with a king size four-poster bed. For more suites, click here.