There are pros and cons to this property and I will definitely try to give an as objective review as possible, for the sake of other travelers as well as the hotel itself, as a bit of constructive criticism should be helpful.
First off, the good: the property is beautiful, large rooms (probably double the space you would get in Florence for the same price). The feeling you're in a castle, with one of the most amazing views. The friendly service, the beautiful breakfast terrace, the gardens and pool (wish we had the time to enjoy those more), the cute parrot in the Orangerie (adorable!). The feeling that you're away from everything when you come back in the evening and everything is really quiet. No problem at all with noise coming from the outside as you might experience in the city center.
I also must say that the hotel is spotless. While the furniture and walls may seem a bit dated, as they have been carefully preserved, everything is perfectly clean, the sheets and towels are very good quality and have been changed every day during our stay.
I was thrilled underground secure parking was available, as we could leave our car securely there throughout our stay without extra charges and knowing it was safe.
The cooking classes, although expensive, are delightful. There are many courses to be cooked but the whole experience is very friendly and lighthearted that you don't even know when the 4 hours have passed. Lovely if you want to learn how to make fresh pasta or a proper risotto and Ana is such a great person to be around, clearly passionate about her food, that we definitely enjoyed it all tremendously.
Now, the bad (though as said before, this property is unique and wonderful; my criticism is to be taken as constructive as I do think a few tweaks would actually make it truly perfect): first, its selling point is also its biggest disadvantage - the location. While the hotel website claims it's only a 10 minute walk to the city center, I can tell you it's only a 10 minute walk for someone fit and only when downhill. The footpath is not really maintained and it's narrow and steep. Walking back is a pain to be honest and we opted for a taxi. The day we didn't find one though, we arrived quite breathless at the top and we are not old, nor out of shape. Just a word of warning: should you use taxis back and forth, it will knock you back around 10 euros each time and while it seems insignificant, it does add up. That's not to say the wonderful view and gardens are not worth it but is a word of warning to someone who doesn't enjoy walking as much as we do.
The second negative I will point out is the food: of course, when in Italy, you are spoiled for choice. Lovely gelato at every corner, espresso and bomboloni for 5 euro, amazing fresh pasta and pizza for a tenner. Taking this into consideration, the 20 euro buffet (per person) is not worth it, though it is OK quality and quite varied. You can have espresso, freshly squeezed orange juice and a cornetto with crema in the Piazza di Duomo for 8 euros. Unfortunately neither the "light lunches" or the dinner are worth the money either. I did not like that there were no prices anywhere and we ended up with a hefty bill for our first dinner - what turned out to be 2 plates of reheated pasta (in the microwave!), one main, one salad and one dessert, as well as 2 glasses of the local wine - 75 euros. We had no idea how much all of it cost until check out. You can definitely do better elsewhere, even at the Trattoria where it all comes from, as it will cost at least 30% less and will be fresh (the food is good nonetheless but the reheating takes away a lot of its texture and flavour).
Please be aware there are no prices for any extra service or product in the hotel: the olive oil and wine both cost 20 euros a bottle which is not particularly cheap and again, this is not mentioned anywhere.
No internet in the room is also something I did not particularly enjoy, though it is nice to disconnect once in a while. However, I think ensuring wireless connection everywhere in the hotel would be a great great add on and lots of guests would appreciate it.
My last tiny negative, I promise: as I had told the owner by email before our stay, we were celebrating both my husband's 30th anniversary, as well as us getting married. While I did not expect any freebies, I was hoping at least to have the option to upgrade to a bigger room or have a bottle of champagne and fruit in the room, for example, for extra cost. Nothing of the sort was proposed so we ended up celebrating elsewhere in Florence. No biggie, obviously, but it would've been nice to have been asked.
All in all? A great stay. Even with a few faults, it did make our stay in Florence really memorable and I must praise the personnel for always being polite and helpful. The hotel has a fascinating history and it is quite unique so I would definitely recommend it.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- 13th.century historical tower with extraordinary view of Florence, a stone's throw from the city, yet a country haven of peace and silence. Each room, very large, has its own character with antique furniture. Modern bathrooms and facilities. Vast garden with outdoor swimming pool. Extremely friendly staff. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Torre Di Bellosguardo Hotel Florence
- Torre Di Bellosguardo Florence