Florence has long been a popular city break destination thanks to its peerless collections of fine art, rustic Tuscan cuisine and beautiful romantic gardens.
The recent conversion of a 15th century palazzo into a luxurious Four Seasons hotel means your clients can experience all of this without leaving their hotel.
Where? On Borgo Pinti, a quiet street in the old town, away from the hordes of tourists but still a 15-minute walk from the major sites.
What’s it like? This 116-room five-star resort is more museum than hotel, with original artwork from Italian masters gracing nearly every wall. The 15th century Palazzo della Gherardesca’s previous residents include a pope and an order of nuns – but this is the first time visitors and have had the chance to explore its treasures.
Under the covers: It took seven years and a reported $100 million to convert this 15th century palazzo into a Four Seasons hotel, but it feels untouched since the days when Florence nobility walked its corridors.
The walls and ceilings are adorned with art that rivals the Uffizi, including frescoes, stuccoes and silk wallpaper. A low-key entrance on a quiet side street opens into an elaborate courtyard bordered by sculptured classical art scenes.
Eat: With striking lilac and white decor, the beautiful Il Palagio restaurant offers fine dining with smatterings of traditional rustic Florence fare. I opted for the veal with Marsala wine sauce, seared tongue and spicy ‘lampredotto’ and for dessert, the Violette ‘bubble’ with chantilly cream and cassis sorbet. Lunches and afternoon tea are available in the hotel’s two courtyards.
Sleep: The hotel comprises two buildings – the Palazzo della Gherardesca and, at the end of four and a half acres of land, the smaller Conventino. Standard rooms have either green or yellow colour schemes, both styles elegant and spacious with individual art and antiques.
The 11 suites transport guests into the world of 15th century Florence nobility with stunning painted ceilings, chandeliers and free-standing marble bathtubs. Antiques sit comfortably alongside the latest plasma televisions and speakers for iPods.
Nearby: Set in 11 acres of private grounds, the hotel feels like a country retreat but is only a 10-minute walk to the city’s famous Duomo, the Gallaria dell’Academia and Piazza della Signoria.
Sell it to: Couples looking for an extra special long weekend; art and culture lovers; friends looking for a luxurious spa weekend.
We like: The spa is the only one in the world to use products from the famous Santa Maria Novella pharmacy.
We didn’t like: The rate does not include breakfast. The outdoor pool was closed during my visit, disappointingly, and there was no indoor pool.
Kuoni offers three nights in a superior room at the Four Seasons in July from £1,137 each, including flights with British Airways from Gatwick, private transfers in resort and an airport lounge in the UK.
No Room at the inn? Try these
Relais Santa Croce: A five-minute walk from the Ponte Vecchio, the five-star Relais Santa Croce occupies an 18th century palazzo, once home to the Pope’s treasurer, the Marquis Baldinucci.
JK Place: Twenty-room boutique hotel JK Place is a comfortable and contemporary option in a great location near the shoppers’ heaven Via Tourabuoni.
Savoy: An oasis from the tourist throng, the Savoy is all about sleek Italian design and neutral tones. The Brunelleschi and Signoria suites both have steam rooms with chromotherapy and aromatherapy facilities.
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