Relais Santa Croce, Florence
An 18th-century former palazzo steeped in period grandeur. It’s a stone’s throw from the parts of Florence you’ll want to see. And there are 24 ultra-luxurious rooms, many offering views of The Duomo. The Royal Suites are among Florence’s most prestigious.
What makes it special?
It’s like sleeping in a museum. The building was originally commissioned by the Pope’s treasurer and many of its former features stand today. The traditional furnishings and frescoed ceilings will leave you mesmerised.
Wining and dining
The elegant in-house Guelfi e Ghibellini restaurant served up one of my favourite meals in Tuscany. Our waiter deserves a special mention. He’s a skilled barista, an impeccable waiter and a highly-knowledgeable sommelier, rolled into one. He waited on all the tables in the intimate dining room, while mixing cocktails, serving dishes and educating guests on the food.
Guelfi e Ghibellini serves traditional Tuscan fare with a modern twist. The presentation is inventive, my highlights including the rich, buttery Chiania beef tartar starter and the refined asparagus risotto with local Castelmagno cheese. The Florentine T-bone steak for two is also highly recommended.
Things to do
You’ve got one of the city’s quirkiest areas, Santa Croce, on your doorstep so go explore. Wander the medieval alleys and discover hidden wine bars, charming cafes and artisan craft shops.
Make time to relax in the magnificent music room, adjacent to the restaurant. Sip on a skillfully crafted cocktail (the Espresso Martinis are incredible) while sinking into the leather armchairs. A backlit frescoed ceiling and original stuccos provide off-the-scale splendour.
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