18th-century luxury in Florence
83 Rooms / 17 Suites
An elegant and understated 18th-century hotel in a leafy area of the city center, porta al prato, Grand Hotel Villa Medici is close enough to the action of Florence without being overrun with tourist groups. It is conveniently located near the central train station Santa Maria Novella, but still has an appealing just-out-of-the-way location. Often the stopping point for football clubs (Juventus and Rome), plenty of movie and music royalty have also stayed here, including the much-loved Roberto Benigni and Luciano Pavarotti.
A walk into the sumptuous baroque lobby, perfumed with Acqua del Elba, is an exercise in luxury. Fun touches like freestanding statues of dogs lend pops of quirk to a serious lobby that is adorned with gilded mirrors and important statues (replicas from the Bargello Museum and surrounding galleries). While it certainly is historic, the hotel has hard-to-find (at least in Florence) perks, such as a lovely outdoor swimming pool and a gym. Spa services, two restaurants and a bar round out the modern offerings.
The Florence hotel has a total of 100 rooms and suites furnished in either contemporary décor or more classic elegance. Suites have two bathrooms (as do some deluxe rooms) and all rooms feature Carrara marble bathtubs and showers; many of the suites also have terraces overlooking the pool area or the city. The six Penthouse Deluxe rooms on the top floor all feature panoramic balconies.
The top-of-the-line guest room is the 1,399-square-foot, Imperial-style Royal Suite. It features a majestic salon protected by the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage, plus high ceilings, a king bed, a living room with fireplace and a Botticino marble bathroom.
Meals are taken in the beautiful Conservatory, overlooking the pool and garden area, which serves as a relaxing oasis from Florence’s hustle and bustle. The menu is naturally Mediterranean, featuring classic Italian dishes such a tagliatelle with black truffles and toasted almonds. Creative influences surface in the kitchen with dishes like a goose carpaccio with shaved fennel marinated in lime. The second course moves on to showcase the city’s pride and joy, the famous bistecca alla fiorentina (Florentine steak), veal loin and filleted sea bass with sliced tomatoes, pine nut and black olives. Everything can be paired with vinos from a strong wine list, and champagne to boot.
The Jockey Bar is elegantly outfitted with options for a light lunch, sandwiches or snacks outside of regular mealtimes. Order from the cocktail list featuring local favorites like a Negroni cocktail, which is native to Florence.
Also perfect for business travelers, there is an ample meeting room space that can also be converted to accommodate private dinners. The plush fitness center is equipped with modern machines, three treadmills, weights, a Turkish bath and sauna.
The onsite pool (rare in central Florence) is an homage to another era, with statues dotting the verdant outside garden. The friendly concierge is there for any last-minute tips, advice or to arrange specific tours — a private boat on the Arno River, perhaps?