The handsome palazzo lies five minutes by foot south of Florence’s main train station and ten from many of the major sights. The designer stores of Via Tornabuoni are a short stroll away. Next door is the wonderful Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella with its delectable lotions and potions and 13th-century frescoed chapel.
Each of the 11 rooms and two suites is highly individual, so you can take your pick. I particularly like the fireplace room with its big black sofa and enormous bathroom where you can watch TV while lying in the clawfoot bath. And the terrace room, with its comfortable terrace and dog bed on request. The more economical twin rooms will suit singles and the play room, with its climbing frame and Disney DVDs, was designed with young families in mind. Bathrooms, with their underfloor heating, are quirky and fun and supplied with Santa Maria Novella bath goodies.
Eating and drinking
Breakfast (freshly-squeezed juice, warm pastries, honey from the owners' farm) is brought to your room on a tray by the housekeeper and can be ordered at any time within reason. Honesty fridges on each floor are kept supplied with wine, Champagne and soft drinks.
The Turkish hammam (big enough for five) costs 100 euros a pop.
Two smiling housekeepers greet guests on arrival and look after their daily needs. There’s also a concierge service for advice on tours and trips out of town.
Who stays there
A tuned-in lot (both business and leisure guests) who could probably afford to pay more but who appreciate Casa Howard’s approach.
- Culture vultures
- Families with younger children
- Travellers with pets
Pros & Cons
- Home-from-home atmosphere
- Free WiFi
- Flexible breakfast times
- No public areas
- Turkish bath is expensive