I've used that headline because when we're next planning a visit to Florence, Hotel l'Orologio will be top of the list. Having visited the city twice before and had less than satisfactory results in our choice of hotels, it was with a degree of temerity that I booked this one. Well, what a delight!
We arrived from Venice on the Freccia Argento express train (what a treat and only €45 each for the 2 hour journey travelling at speeds up to 270kph). The plan was to surprise my sister whose 60th birthday it was and whose husband had booked a surprise trip to Florence for her with dinner out on the day. Well, an added surprise was my wife and I waiting in the restaurant. So it was important we booked somewhere near the station so there was no chance we might bump into them accidentally.
It was raining when we arrived but the short walk was no problem. The entrance lobby was an indication of the style of this hotel and the receptionist an indication of their attitude towards guests; she was so charming and helpful.
I had specified a quiet room and so it proved to be. It was on the third floor. Room numbering is a little confusing in that, above each door is a four figure number accompanied by a name, e.g. The Sultan of Oman. It was only having wandered about a bit that we noticed the room numbers were on the small brass plates, at waist level, into which you have to insert your key card.
The room was excellent. Unusually for many Italian hotels, there was even a tea making tray. There was ample wardrobe space, a safe, flexible bedside reading lights, slippers, etc. The bathroom was fabulous, in spite of one of those magnifying mirrors over the basin. In a modern style by a large border-lit mirror, neither my wife nor I noticed it until my wife accidentally caught sight of herself and let out small cry of despair!
We could not have wished for anything better, it being the cheapest option at €120 for the night (incl. breakfast)
We returned to the hotel after dinner with my sister and son-in-lay for a nightcap in the stylish bar. However, we retired to an English gentlemen's club like area, all wood panelling and an open (gas wood-effect) fire and comfortable leather sofas. A fitting end to a lovely day.
The bed was reassuringly firm and oh so comfortable.
Then there was breakfast. My wife was ecstatic, well as ecstatic as one could be over breakfast. It was one of the best, if not the best, breakfast we have enjoyed anywhere. Located at the top of the hotel overlooking the large square below and much of Florence, the breakfast room featured the original room beams and huge panoramic windows punctuated by original stone columns. Breakfast itself was superb, the highlight of which was the delicate crispy bacon. I could go on but ....
A final word; my wife kept commenting on how clean everywhere and everything was. I tend not to notice as I don't wear my glasses all the time but it's praise indeed, coming from madame!
We left our case at the hotel before walking over to an art exhibition at the Strozzi. It was then back to the station for a return trip to Venice and this time, it was first class...it was part of the return ticket and still only €45!
Florence is beautiful and the best time for a visit is in the winter. In summer, it's rammed with tourists; hot, noisy and crowded. We shall return and Hotel l'Orologio will be our hotel of choice.