The hotel sits on a hillside below Fiesole overlooking Florence in 50,000 square metres of parkland. Great if you want to escape the crowds, not so great if you want to wander into town (although there is a regular complimentary shuttle service).
While fitting in with the villa’s austere mindset, the bedrooms are exercises in under-stated luxury. Beds are vast and made up with Florentine linen sheets (which must be ironed once they are on the beds judging by the lack of creases), the softest feather duvets and puffy pillows. The rooms - quite masculine in feel - all feature dark oak floors, huge mirrors hiding flatscreen TVs, Poltrona Frau leather armchairs and bathrooms with vast rainshowers illuminated by LED lights and the softest robes I’ve ever come across. The suites are all splendid, but if you can’t afford the price tag, try and nab a Dome-view suite with views of Brunelleschi’s cupola. I rather liked the seven more contemporary Greenhouse Suites, each of which has a light-filled sitting area housed in one of the old glasshouses.
There are endless spaces where you can retreat to, both inside the villa and out. The most impressive room is the wood-panelled library, which is well supplied with brown leather Chesterfields and shelves of reading materials.
Eating and drinking
An à la carte American Breakfast with a huge choice of hot and cold dishes is served at any time of the day or night (multi-bonus points!). La Terrazza restaurant, with its al fresco kitchen and menu of snacks and casual dishes, is set up on the huge terrace overlooking Florence in warm weather; it moves indoors in winter. Le Serre is the hotel’s gourmet restaurant where Saverio Sbaragli’s sophisticated, creative menus feature elements of both Italian and international cuisines. There’s an elegant bar where cocktails and after-dinner drinks are served to a laidback soundtrack.
There’s a gym in the main villa and a Devarana Spa (the only one outside Thailand) in the grounds close to the three-level heated infinity pool.
An immaculate beige-suited ‘service ambassador’ is assigned to each guest on arrival, designed to be personal concierge-cum-butler and point-of-reference during the stay. There’s no reception desk and nothing so vulgar as having to check in; you’re greeted in the grand hallway and whisked off for a refreshing drink and a tour of the hotel before being shown to your splendid bedroom where you will be asked for your passport.
Who stays there
Almost exclusively leisure guests, mostly divided between English, American and Italian. Most of the guests I saw on my last visit were fairly young and decidedly glamorous.
You may be paying top prices to stay here, but it's the only hotel incuded in my list where parking is free. Be thankful for small mercies.
- Fitness Centre
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Swimming Pool
- Celebrity spotting
- Escaping the crowds
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- All day breakfast
- Your personal service ambassador
- Serious luxury
- The out-of.the-way location