La Gemma Hotel in the heart of Florence is a family-owned business whose passion flows through the staff and the building. Its Art Deco styling takes you back to a different, more elegant time, and yet, this hotel has all the luxury and everyday conveniences you could wish for.
Experiencing La Gemma Hotel is like starring in a golden age film. You can dine at a beautifully adorned table with Art Deco panelling in the green of Florence, accented with pastel pinks in the chairs, curtains and other furnishing. The lighting is atmospheric, and period lamps feature throughout the room. This hotel has an intimacy and takes you into a glamorous bygone era.
La Gemma is a jewel in a city of treasures owned by the Cecchi family (above); it is their passion away from their careers and a celebration of their Father Luca. Its name is derived from the initials of the siblings who purchased the building and designed and created this luxurious property.
The hotel is located close to the main thoroughfare leading to the famous Ponte Vecchio, the quirky bridge across the river Arno that flows through Florence. The Ponte Vecchio is still a centre for trading, with regular markets on the bridge and shops selling their wares.
One often overlooked aspect many travellers frequently take for granted is the scent inside a property, with most accepting no scent as the norm. La Gemme takes a different approach. It smells divine, thanks to masses of fresh flowers, and this aroma encompasses you as soon as you enter the elegant reception and accompanies you to your room.
Regardless of what type of room you choose to stay in at La Gemma, you are guaranteed high-quality living space with pretty much everything you need. If you need something extra, the hotel staff will do their best to assist, and they are on call 24 hours, as is room service.
An iPad in the room is your hub for communicating with departments within the hotel, booking treatments in the Allure Spa, and much more.
Signature rooms are top-tier, and some have a balcony where you can take in the live theatre on the main thoroughfare of Florence. All rooms and suites are decorated with Florence green and feature pink fittings and furnishings. You will have plenty of space to unpack and unwind in any room, and the luxury extends from the Signature through to the Junior Suites.
La Gemma has 39 rooms with en-suites replete with Biologique Recherche wash products, beautifully scented and refreshing. All rooms have the latest technology and quality brands, with large flat-screen TVs, Air conditioning, personal heating control and much more.
The dining area where you have your meals and breakfast is called Luca, after the owners’ Father, and it is an intimate area in the evening, with low lighting.
In the morning, the same area is used for breakfast, and it is light and airy. Breakfast is a sumptuous affair with an array of bread, pastries, cakes on a table, and fruit juices for self-service.
The waiting staff will then bring your choice of hot drink to your table and take your request for hot food from the long list on offer. Opting for a sweet dish such as French Toast with maple syrup comes with fresh fruit and a raspberry compote. The eggs benedict is divine, with perfect poached eggs and plenty of Hollandaise sauce.
For Dinner, Luca’s becomes the mysteriously atmospheric restaurant from the pages of an Agatha Christie novel, where Head Chef Paulo Airaudo prepares modern versions of Florentine classics.
Head Chef Paulo Airaudo (above) said, “The concept of fine dining is evolving; people desire happy places where they can have fun & spend pleasant moments.”
You certainly will have pleasant times in Luca’s, with its lit wall of wines adding to the glorious decor, and diners can choose from the vast selection of wines. Prepare to take your time dining, as this is not fast food in any sense. Everything is cooked to order, and dishes come out when the entire table order is ready.
Diners have the option of an A La Carte or Lounge menu, which differ in choices, but both are outstanding quality. The produce is sourced locally as much as possible and seasonal.
The Lounge menu is less formal, and you have options for all courses, with dishes like the Starter of sliced red prawns with burrata cheese, tomatoes and garnish, and Main of Tenderloin with peppers and peppercorn sauce, or you can have burgers and chips.
The A La Carte tasting menu is a delicious collection of smaller dishes with many courses. After some delicate Amuse Bouche, you can indulge in delightful dishes, such as lobster risotto with beetroot and creme fraiche and pigeon cappetelli. Other courses follow, which are equally elegant and gastronomic.
Luca’s Lounge Cocktail Bar
Luca’s Lounge Cocktail Bar is a feast of Art Deco in the same green and pink as the rest of the hotel and the place for pre or post-dinner drinks. The Mixologists can make you the house specials or your favourite tipple such as an Old fashioned or Manhatten.
La Gemma offers Mixology experiences with skilled Mixologists from the hotel, showing guests how to prepare and drink various cocktails. It is a great, entertaining event that lights up an evening.
The Allure Spa is a subterranean paradise for mind and body, offering the latest wellness treatments and facilities. The decor and furnishings are relaxing, intending to calm guests.
The Therapists at the Spa use Biologique Recherche methods, which are visionary and scientific, meaning you get a personalised beauty treatment. Allure has a boutique wellness area where you can enjoy the hydro massage bath, Turkish bath, ice shower, and many bespoke therapies.
One area of La Gemma I particularly liked was its magical rooftop relaxation area with its glorious views of the city, which become even more spectacular as the light fades. You can sit and stare at the stars while having food and drink brought up to you, a perfect way to end an evening.
La Gemma is the ideal base to explore other parts of Tuscany by car or train, with plenty of historical towns, cities and sightseeing locations within easy reach. The Concierge can arrange car hire, help with train times and tickets, and they can arrange activities away from the hotel, such as truffle hunting.
Florence is like a being in an Opera. As you stroll through the beautiful, historic streets aligned with majestic artistry, you half expect the other people around you to break into song.
Around every corner are sculptures or a church, and then you find the two huge Cathedrals at the city’s centre. Visitors should make time to explore these human-made masterpieces to understand the skill of the architects, builders, and glass makers and experience the incredible paintings on the ceilings and walls.
Food Lovers walking tour
Food and wine feature heavily in Florence, with an enormous amount of little delis which serve edible delights and wine to accompany your food. Small eateries set in arches serve regional specialities of bread, meat, cheeses, and sweet treats.
The best way to find these gastronomic outlets is to book a guided food walking tour, and the staff at La Gemma can help with this. An ideal time to start is around 11 am as you get lots to eat during the two-and-a-half-hour experience, and in some stops, you get drinks.
Tour of the wine windows
The city was the Medici family’s stronghold, and their coat of arms can be seen on hundreds of buildings; they influenced everything, be it trade or religion. The Roman Catholic churches also had considerable power over the residents and strictly prohibited Sunday drinking.
Because of the poor quality of the water, wine became important for Florence’s inhabitants, so much so that establishments put small openings in walls and secured them with equally small doors to enable residents to obtain wine on a Sunday.
People would knock on the door or ring a small bell; the door would open, and a glass of wine would be sold to the person. You can follow in the footsteps of those medieval inhabitants, taking a guided tour of the buildings which still serve wine from the windows.
Florence is known for its perfumeries, and one Master Perfumer located in the city’s narrow streets is Sileno Cheloni. Visitors can explore the boutique and have personal creation sessions, where they sit with a Perfumer and blend an individual scent.
The other experience is where you meet Sileno Cheloni in his theatre of creativity and learn about the raw minerals known as Ambers. He guides you through his passion for perfume and educates you on aromas.
La Gemma Hotel – Where and How?
La Gemma has been created and designed by the Cecchi family, bringing together their business skills, experiences and creative passions. The hotel in the heart of Florence is the first stage in their plan to introduce La Gemma Hotels to other Italian cities, European cities and eventually the Middle East.
Email: [email protected]
Address: Via dei Cavalieri 2c, 50123, Florence
La Gemma is an easy walk from the central station and twenty minutes by car from Florence airport. You can learn more about the hotel on its website, www.lagemmahotel.com.
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