Black Book Travel Guide: Florence

After reading our travel guide to everything chic and swanky in this Italian city, we think you may need to re-shuffle your travel destination list and put Florence at the top.

Sep 26, 2012
Karen Kwan
Black Book Travel Guide: Florence

Ask a seasoned traveler what city in Italy would be their top recommendation and the answer more often than not will be Florence. What makes this nearly everyone's favourite city?

Considered to be the birthplace of the Renaissance, in Florence you can take a step in any direction and you'll be met with stunning architecture or more culture than you can possibly absorb in a lifetime-in fact, you may find it so breathtaking you'll be brought to tears (don't worry, wipe them away with a Prada handkerchief and we won't tell anyone). Read on for our travel guide to this opulent and picturesque city.

Travel guide: Where to stay
For a comfortably chic spot to rest your head that's easy on the pocketbook, reserve a room at Mr. & Mrs. Smith property Floroom. This charming four-room bed and breakfast is tucked up on the third floor of a building found on a quiet alleyway just a few minutes walk from the Ponte Santa Trinita.

Before you set out for a day of sightseeing, enjoy a light breakfast (think cereal, yogurt, toast, cheese, prosciutto, juice and, of course, a cappuccino to jolt you awake) in the dining area, which is a cozy sunshine-filled space you'll find on the upper level. (Bonus: You can request your breakfast-time preference-so you can sleep in a bit if you've been out late the night before).

Best of all, Floroom is literally steps from numerous fantastic restaurants, including 4 Leone (where there's a busy patio right in a busy but charming square), and cultural sights, including Pallazzo Pitti-and you'll especially welcome the short walk after pounding the city's cobblestones day after day.

If, however, what you covet most in a hotel is more on the luxe and sleek end of the style spectrum, set your sights further afield on Riva Lofts. Just outside the city gates, and about a 30-minute walk to the Ponte Vecchio, Riva Lofts boasts eight contemporary lofts, each equipped with amply sized washrooms stocked with local olive oil-based toiletries.

The chic outdoor space, complete with pool, chaise longues and hammocks, would make an A-list celeb feel right at home and, take our word for it, you'll welcome the peace and quiet after dealing with the hordes of tour groups that congest the Centre. If your nerves are particularly frazzled, be sure to book a massage through the hotel. Then, when you're ready to play tourist again, don't miss out on the complimentary bikes available on the property to tour around the area.

Additional touches, such as the complimentary snacks and beverages in the stunning dining room (accessible 24 hours a day with a passcode) and the DVD library, will make Riva Lofts feel like the pied a terre you've been dreaming about owning. In fact, this boutique hotel should come with a warning upon check-in: You'll never want to leave.

Black Book Travel Guide: Where to get a posh cocktail in Florence on the next page ...


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