Despite or perhaps because of the hotel’s unremarkable exterior in a relatively drab side-street away from the buzzing centre of Florence, the first thing that you notice when you enter the Four Seasons Firenze is the elegant grandeur of the public spaces. Clever use of design elements has created a building with an interior that is faithful to the centuries-old history of the property, yet which works extremely well as a modern hotel, with a natural flow between the outside and inside spaces, and which makes what is actually quite a small hotel seem much bigger than it actually is.
However, the most remarkable feature of the property is the gardens, which in its size, maturity and beauty is indeed a rare delight for a hotel so close to a European city centre. Not simply a loose collection of trees and shrubs, the gardens include manicured lawns, wide pathways, secret grottos, ponds and small hills to climb and explore (much to the delight of our young children), while the many massive trees create a space that is serene and cool.
The overall effect is wonderful. The hotel’s interior and gardens are both beautiful in their own right, but together they are indeed spectacular and make this hotel one of the most pleasant that I have ever had the pleasure of visiting.
A magnificent property is all very well, but it’s the quality of staff and service that differentiates all the Four Seasons properties that we’ve visited, and this one is certainly no exception. This was our first time with our children (two boys aged 4 and 7), and we were very pleasantly surprised with how thoughtfully Four Seasons looks after its smaller guests. Kid-sized gowns and slippers awaited them, and they got their own menu at dinner with crayons for them to colour it in with. As parents we were very happy that the children’s menu offered a wide range of healthy but tasty options.
Despite the hotel’s formal grandeur every member of the staff went out of their way to make sure that all members of our party felt special. When toys were left behind at breakfast, staff members sought us out to return them; when we discovered that a pair of swim goggles had been left behind at a previous hotel, the concierge secured a new pair within an hour and delivered them (on a silver platter) to the pool for us. And of course everybody knew our names (including our children) – a small but memorable touch. To single out individual staff members almost seems unfair given how good they all were, and in some cases it is simply because I can’t remember everybody’s names, but nonetheless I’ll mention Paul L. from the concierge desk, Stefania at reception and Kenneth at the front door as superb examples of how excellent Four Seasons staff really are.
The hotel’s various facilities are all excellent. The gym is large, well-equipped and bathed in sunlight while the pool is set in the gardens next to the spa and is split in two: the cold side is slightly longer than Olympic size, while the hot side is a quite substantial semi-circle with a radius of about 5 metres. Pool service was excellent – there were always at least a couple of staff members standing at a discreet distance, ready to attend to our needs and whims, and used towels were replaced with new ones almost as soon as we put them down.
Our meals (primarily in the hotel’s main restaurant, but also at the pool and in-room) were all excellent. The price is steep (around EUR180 for 2 adults and 2 children for dinner, excluding alcohol), but the beauty of the surroundings more than compensates for this, especially if the weather permits dining al fresco. We experienced a few minor service blips during one meal (out of 8 meals over the course of 3 days – we were happy enough with the food to take all our meals on the property during our stay), but couldn’t have been happier with how well the staff reacted when we complained.
Our rooms (213 and 214) were wonderful. We asked for and were able to confirm in advance inter-leading rooms, since the vast majority of the hotel’s rooms can’t take more than 3 guests. Both of our rooms were generously sized (the distance between the bedrooms along our own private hallway was 20 full paces, far enough apart so as to give us all our own quiet spaces at the end of a busy day) and had lovely views over the hotel gardens.
Other reviewers have complained about the hotel location, but I have to differ in this regard. The hotel is barely a kilometer from the Duomo, which is comfortably less than 10 minutes at a very leisurely stroll, and there are a number of interesting sites along the way. Other hotels may put you right in the heart of the city but you’d be sacrificing way too much simply for the sake of saving yourself 5 minutes of good aerobic exercise (or, at worst, a very brief taxi ride).
We really couldn’t find much to complain about at all. We experienced a couple of minor hiccups that should probably be expected in a hotel that has been open for less than a month (e.g. a sink that drained too slowly and a hand-shower that dripped a bit), but overall our experience was very special and can best be described as if we had come to stay at the historic palazzo of our favorite aristocratic uncle – we felt truly at home.
To sum up: we’ve previously stayed at the George V in Paris as well as the Four Seasons Hampstead in the U.K. and thus came to this hotel with high expectations, but even these were substantially exceeded. The Four Seasons Firenze is a truly wonderful property, and is well run by a staff that is warm, friendly and efficient.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Welcome to Four Seasons Hotel Firenze. An enchanted city sanctuary in the midst of Florence, where an art-filled Renaissance palazzo and conventino frame a centuries-old private park. Relax amidst original frescoes and sculptured reliefs, graced by sunlight and airy garden vistas. Sip espresso under majestic trees, lounge by the open-air pool or bask in Italian spa secrets. Wonders of the Uffizi and Duomo are a stroll away. Tuscan hill towns beckon. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- 4 Seasons Hotel Firenze
- Florence Four Seasons