Recently re-vamped Piazza Santa Maria Novella lies two minutes' walk from the train station and about ten from the Ponte Vecchio. The square is traffic-free but it can be a bit noisy at night, especially in summer, thanks to neighbouring pavement bars and restaurants.
The 20 bedrooms, arranged over four floors, are built around a small internal courtyard hung with Moroccan lamps. All done out in the same understated style as the rest of the hotel, they range from cosy little dens with four posters, to a spacious master room overlooking the piazza and the panoramic penthouse suite; the latter has a bathroom with wrap-around windows from which the views of the city are spectacular. I stayed in one of the smaller doubles which, in spite of their diminutive dimensions, manage to feel cosy rather than cramped and have all the amenities of the larger rooms. All have plenty of technical gizmos to play with. Try and book one of the rooms at the front overlooking the magnificent symmetrical marble façade of the church that gives the square its name.
Small but perfectly formed. Intimate, restful spaces include a cosy living room with an open fire, piles of arty books and cashmere throws on the backs of armchairs, and the adjacent JK Lounge, plus a panoramic roof terrace with loungers and flickering candles. Perfect for a romantic sundowner.
Eating and drinking
JK Lounge is open for light lunchtime snacks (the club sandwiches are delicious), Afternoon Tea by the fire, cocktails and dinner. It’s a popular evening meeting place for sophisticated young Florentines, especially in the summer when the space doubles to include a deck on the piazza. Breakfast is served around a large oval table in a converted courtyard; if you can’t face your fellow guests first thing, order in your room. Bonus: complimentary sweet and savoury snacks and drinks are laid out throughout the day in the breakfast room.
The young staff here get the balance between immaculate service and genuine warmth just right. A clue to the management style lies in the fact that there is no reception as such; business is carried out over a desk piled with books and arty objéts in a small, wood-panelled library.
Who stays there
Both business and leisure travellers with a predominance of very cool-looking fashionistas: it’s the sort of place that once tried, guests come back to time and time again.
Rates here are lower than several of the city's other four-star hotels and include a whole range of free extras: minibar (soft drinks), drinks and snacks from the all-day buffet, CD/DVDs and upgrades depending on availability.
- High-Speed Internet
- Pets Allowed
- Room Service
- Culture vultures
- Special occasions
Pros & Cons
- Discreet, intimate atmosphere
- Super stylish without being stuck up
- Roof terrace
- No leisure facilities