Monna Lisa smokes and exposes her breast with a wink in the main lobby…..
Yes. All joking aside! Even though this is touted as a four star hotel, the 10 or more cliché ridden fading copies of Monna Lisa in the main sitting area are 1-star in classiness [Monna Lisa smoking cigarettes, exposing her breasts, winking vulgarly at you, etc]. Which is my point about this hotel, it is a very strange mix of old world elegance, kitschy vulgar ostentation, and slightly modern conveniences. For the price and for Florence, however, in the final analysis it is a pleasant stay to remember.
Borgo Pinti, the old long very narrow alleyway which bends into another alley of the nearby Teatro della Pergola, currently featuring Pirandello plays, is the location of Monna Lisa hotel, converted from a family estate compound that has traded hands three times since the 15th century. Now it is in the possession of the Ciardi Duprè family branch extension. Their hotel website claims them to be descendents of the sculptor born in nearby Siena, Giovanni Duprè, who died in 1882 and who has his own sculpture represented in the Hermitage of St. Petersburg and in the Palazzo Pitti of Florence, which I saw there while visiting. The oldest hospital in all Florence, still being used with an active emergency room, is five minutes by foot away on the same street. There are some Renaissance paintings still in the hospital complex, Ospedale di Santa Maria Nuouva [in Italian], founded in 1288 by the father of Dante’s love, Beatrice.
Some people have already written, that the front desk staff seem cold and restrained at first, and the bellhops and porters come across a little bit surly and in dire need of tips. But if you stay more than two days, they warm up to you, I found during my five day stay. Luigi is very responsive to questions, always. Actually, most of the front desk employees are helpful, albeit at first in a terse and tense manner. It seems to me they are a bit frightful of one of their boss's employees' regulations, somehow, and this cramps their style and spontaneity for a while!
The breakfast offering was less than average in satisfaction. The bread and pastries were bland and not tasty and they should find a new baker to supply them. The only two cold cut meats offered were quite average, and the same selection every morning, with no other choice. No omelets or scrambled eggs, just boiled eggs that were not replenished often enough, just like the one type of thin sliced salami offered and running out often on the buffet self serve table. The coffee I think was Folgers or some cafeteria discounted coffee grinds/beans, which tasted to me like metallic and bitter Folgers or Jacobs coffee, and not so much like zesty “woody” high grade Italian coffee. After the first morning I had to switch to tea, even though I wanted coffee. However, despite this, free newspapers are provided, in a few languages, and when they noticed how much I enjoyed the International Herald Tribune, they had a personal free copy of it under my door every morning at dawn!
The spacious breakfast room has some old world charm, with its centuries old furniture and manifested in a few of the small sculptures, and here and there, drawings or old paintings on the wall [along with copies]. For some reason alternative passageway entries and exits from the large room have been blocked off with very large potted plants in the way.
The exterior garden is pleasant to walk through even in winter. I could just imagine some of the flowers in bloom in warm weather, and sitting there for an hour reading my paper.
My room’s cable TV only had three working channels, but my significant other, my partner on this trip, told me we did not need TV and not to complain. When she fell asleep before me one night, I tried to find some BBC or something, even a movie, but mostly I found paid-viewing channels that were asking a lot of euros for the entire TV season of old popular series.
We enjoyed one rainy evening, after ten hours of walking, their free sparkling sudsy, house bubbling wine, awaiting our return, with their icon Monna Lisa smiling on the house bottle label at us to cheer us up with her indelicate humor.
The bathroom both delighted me and distressed me. A very cheap discount market triple shelf white plastic holding tray, was beside the sink and in the way of the door when you tried to close it. It was however, convenient to put our personal toiletries and belongings on the very small triangular three miniature levels, but this is the kind of plastic furnishing you would find in a college dormitory and not in a “four star” hotel. The Jacuzzi worked well and one day my new boots had been killing my feet after another 9 hours of much walking in the old streets, and the hot tub water and forceful vibrating and pulsating water, deeply soothed my feet and aching muscles.
Our view from the large balcony to our room was a broad panorama of the large extensive garden. It was a game of strategy in our five days, to try not to use their 15 euro per day wifi paid service, feeling we should have gotten such features for free. This took up too much of our holiday time, in the end upon reflection, we both agreed. So, add 8 euros to the daily price quoted, they charge you Florentine city tax for each day, and add another 15 euros for wifi privileges. Again, you must add this 23 euros to the daily price you think you should be paying, if you want to unwind by wifi and be paid-in-full at the end of our stay.
If you explore the entire hotel premises, it makes the hotel much more interesting. There are three main large buildings in the shape of a three sided rectangle, and the front desk building has a little antiquaria, reading room, up a spiral stone staircase, which indeed has some elegant feel to it, and I don’t think it is much used by guests. Here and there in the entire hotel is some proof of good taste, but another consciousness has also put their stamp on much of the hotel too, which shows a mercantile sense more than the pure joy of aesthetics in action.
I highly recommend the Trattoria nearby, Acquacotta, five minutes away, on a cross perpendicular street, for both lunch and dinner. Also, I think it is not fair to call the forlorn little 5 meter by 5 meter extension of one of the roofs, with two tired looking reclining chairs, a “solarium”. Better not to promote it and just let guests find it and use it like sunning in Central Park on a bench, without any fanfare.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.