After a wonderful stay on the Amalfi Coast last summer, we boarded the high-speed Frecciarossa train, which whisked us from Naples to Florence in just under three hours. For our lodging in this beautiful city, we returned to the Hotel Brunelleschi which combines Tuscan elegance, Old Hollywood Glam and a location just down the street from the Duomo. The hotel served as our base of operations on our last visit here two years ago and we were eager to return.
My Partner F and I tend to travel like Cher on tour. Given the amount of luggage we had with us, we thought it would be best to have a car pick us up at the train station. When booking our reservation on the hotel’s website, we arranged for a car transfer and were pleased to see the driver with a sign waiting for us at the end of the platform at Santa Maria Novella. After a short drive, we pulled into a narrow street and the courtyard of the Hotel Brunelleschi.
Source: Hotel Brunelleschi
The hotel incorporates the Pagliazza Tower which is the oldest building still standing in the center of Florence. Tour groups regularly stop in front of the hotel to make of note of this fact but keep a respectful distance. The Torre della Pagliazza, which in English means the Straw Tower, was used as a women’s prison during the Middle Ages. Its name derives from the straw used to stuff the prison mattresses. Interestingly, most of the women in the prison were not criminals but rather individuals who refused to marry the men their parents had arranged as future husbands.
Source: Hotel Brunelleschi
The Hotel Brunelleschi renovated its rooms and public spaces a couple of years ago. The feel is modern and lux with just the right amount of bling that gives it a bit of an Old Hollywood Glam feel. However, you still get a great sense of place as the design deftly incorporates the building’s historical architectural features. Exposed beams and brickwork complement the lobby’s rich clay and earth-toned terrazzo floors. The detail and craftsmanship of the furniture along with leather accents and artwork provide an appropriately Tuscan medieval feel.
For our stay we booked a Superior Executive Room which featured a comfortable queen sized bed.
The room also included two chairs, a small table, writing desk, flat screen television and a luggage rack / bench at the foot of the bed. Hardwood floors in a herringbone pattern and vintage moldings served as a softening counterpoint to the room’s contemporary furnishings.
Although the room wasn’t exceptionally large, I did find that it provided “just enough” space for two people to move around comfortably. In addition, high ceilings contributed to a general feeling of spaciousness.
The bathroom was generously sized and sported marble finishes, updated bath and shower as well as modern fixtures.
Although the room lacked dressers, the closet area provided several shelving areas for storage as well as a mini-fridge and safe. We had no problem finding space to stow our luggage and to put away our clothes for our four-night stay. A quirky, yet very practical, feature of the room was the little pictograms on the light switches that informed you exactly which lamps you were turning on and off.
The hotel provides free Wi-Fi. I found the signal strength and speed to be adequate in our room. However, there were a couple of nights when Internet service went offline but resumed by the following morning.
Rooms were promptly made up as soon as we left. In the evening, we enjoyed a turndown service which included a slippers laid out at our bedside along with candy and a small card with the following day’s weather forecast left on the nightstand.
Also included in our rate was an expansive morning buffet offering a variety of breads and pastries, cold cuts and fruit juice, milk, coffee and tea. Hot items such as eggs, potatoes, sausage and bacon were also offered.
Breakfast is served in the bright and airy Salone Liberty and in the Sala del Pozzo everyday from 7:00 to 10:30. Although the hotel was quite full during our stay, we never had a problem securing our preferred table every morning. The servers at breakfast were polite, cheery and attentive.
This service standard extended beyond breakfast and was displayed by each member of the hotel’s staff we encountered. We were regularly greeted with a friendly buongiorno every time we passed hotel personnel in the hallways or in the lobby area. In particular, the hotel’s concierge staff was very helpful in suggesting restaurants or things to. We were particularly impressed that one of the concierges, Sergio, remembered us from our previous visit two years ago.
The Hotel Brunelleschi is very centrally located. The Duomo is only a 3-minute walk away and other major attractions such as the Uffizi, Piazza dell Signoria and Ponte Vecchio are all within a 5-10 minute radius of the hotel. Most importantly, a branch of Grom, our favorite gelato place, is just around the corner.
We would definitely stay at the Hotel Brunelleschi again. The elements of location, service, style and comfort all come together at this establishment. What about you? Do you have a favorite place to stay whenever you’re in Florence?