Hotel: Hotel Savoy
Address: Piazza della Repubblica, 7 50123, Florence
TraveLife Ranking: Five Stars
Room rates: $500+
Awards: Rated as Florence’s best hotel.
Highlights: Hotel Savoy is situated right in its heart on the Piazza della Repubblica. The piazza is ringed with outdoor cafes and attracts a large number of craftsmen selling the leather goods for which Florence is so noted. At night, street entertainers fill the square and keep large crowds amused with their acts. It's a scene you can watch from the comfort of the hotel's garden terrace, which is located at street level.
History: The Savoy has been a hotel since 1893. The area around the Hotel Savoy was once known as the Mercato Vecchio (Old Market), which later became the city's Jewish ghetto before being razed and turned into the beautiful gathering spot it is today.
Interior highlights: Despite all the glitter that surrounds it, it is the hotel that shines brightest in the piazza. Once you walk through its massive wooden doors where once stood a church - San Tommaso - you'll be blessed with first-class accommodation and service that sets the Hotel Savoy apart from others in Florence. Part of the highly regarded Rocco Forte Hotels group, which also owns the incredible Hotel de Russie in Rome, the Florence property combines old-world charm with new-age chic that makes you want to kick off your shoes and stay awhile. Oh, and speaking of shoes, the hotel is full of them - or at least contemporary art work depicting shoes and hat shapes that pay tribute to the city's past. One of the hotel’s seven gorgeous suites features Andy Warhol's famous Shoes painting.
In the next room: Entertainer Sting and fashion designer Prada are regular guests at the Savoy.
The rooms: The modern restyling of the hotel fell under the control of Olga Polizzi, the sister of Sir Rocco Forte, the man who runs one of Europe's most respected hotel empires. Despite the contemporary additions, the hotel's elegant past has not been compromised - and there is no better example of that than the spacious rooms. With charming views of the Piazza della Repubblica and glimpses of Giotto's Bell Tower and the cathedral dome by Brunelleschi from the long windows decorated with handsome wooden shutters, guests can't help but fall in love with their surroundings. Furnished with antiques, the rooms are stuffed with all the latest electronic business gizmos - two phone lines, voice messaging, data port, interactive TV, fax machine and the latest addition, in-room high speed Internet. The beds are big and comfy, covered with a cozy duvet and crisp linen sheets that lull you to sleep. The marbled bathrooms are spacious and the oversized soaking tubs are perfect for soaking your tired feet after a day of touring Florence.
Amenities: The hotel offers in-room massages that are recommended after a day of walking the streets of TraveLife’s favorite Italian city.
Restaurants: The Hotel Savoy's chic L'Incontro eatery is small and considered a "neighborhood" restaurant, featuring Tuscan cuisine that will leave you wanting more. It spills out into the piazza in the warmer months the bar area has become one of the great gathering spots for the city's business elite. L'Incontro is the perfect place to start your day with its legendary buffet breakfast. It's actually fun to eat on the street level terrace and watch all the tour groups march past on their way to see the city's historic sites - many oblivious to the fact that the hotel is one of the Florence’s top attractions.
Shopping: If you can’t find something to buy in the shop-laden streets surrounding this beauty or at one of the flea markets near the historic sites, then you’re not a good shopper.
Close By Turn right out of the hotel's entrance and within minutes you are standing in Piazza del Duomo, home to a trio of white and green marbled buildings (the Bell Tower, Baptistry and Duomo Cathedral) that together form Florence's most admired tourist attractions. A little farther along and you'll come to the Medici Chapel, which holds the treasures of Italy's most famous family; the Accademia, home of David and some of Michelangelo's other great creations; and the city's great leather stores. Turn left and the street leads you to Piazza Signoria, where you will come across the greatest collection of statues in the world - including TraveLife’s favorite, Giambologna's The Rape of the Sabine Woman - just sitting in the open air square. Not far away is the incredible cathedral Santa Croce where Michelangelo and Galileo are buried, and a short distance from that is the Ponte Vecchio, the store-lined bridge where the city's gold merchants sell their glittering collections.
Tips: You want to be in the middle of the action in Florence so this is the hotel we recommend. Just what you’ll save in cab fare will subsidize your stay here. The art work makes this more museum than hotel. Walk the neighboring piazza in the evening with someone special – you’re sure to fall in love all over again. The ice cream shops on the side streets offer some of the best, creamy treats you’ll ever taste.