In beautiful Florence, choice of top hotels is certainly impressive, but definitely not easy!
View over Florence from Villa Vedetta
For the holidaymaker or relaxation tourist, there is only one hotel:
The Four Seasons, situated on the outskirts, with a fantastic pool, spa and garden.
Lobby of Four Seasons Hotel Florence
For the businessman, art enthusiast, fashonista or other upscale traveller, the decision is more difficult:
My personal choice is the Lungarno Hotel, owned by the Ferragamo family - of celebrity shoes & fashion fame.
Salvatore Ferragamo was born in 1898 near Napoli. When the family moved to the USA before World War I, Salvatore quickly made his luck in Hollywood, providing made-to-measure shoes to stars like Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich or later Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. He moved back to Italy in 1937 and acquired Florence's biggest private medieval palace, the Palazzo Spini Feroni, which today houses the Ferragamo company's headquarter, flagship store and museum. After Salvatore's death in 1960, the family managed to keep control and grow the business, including many other luxury lifestyle products, like their Lungarno Collection hotels.
The name Lungarno originally derives from the cobbled streets that stretch alung the Arno River since antiquity. Nowadays, the Lungarno Collection comprises the four Ferragamo hotels in Florence, plus their super-luxury hotel "Portrait" in Rome. In addition, the family owns the "Borgo San Jacopo" gourmet restaurant inside Hotel Lungarno, "Villa Le Rose" in Chianti, the "Puro Suites" at Scarlino Yacht Club, including use of Nautor Swan Sailing Yachts, a company controlled by Salvatore Ferragamo's son Leonardo, who also runs the Lungarno Collection.
The fabulous four Ferragamo Florence hotels are distinct properties with different styles and strengths and price tags. What they have in common is not only the family ownership, or the sophisticated style by interior designer Michele Bönan, but also the town's monopoly position closest to the Ponte Vecchio bridge over the Arno.
Here's my personal impressions of the Lungarno Collection in Florence:
This is the group's newest (Spring 2014), most private, expensive and luxurious all-suite hotel in Florence.
The Portrait hotel's private lobby lounge
Hotel Lungarno Florence
This is the group's most famous property, very sophisticated, elegant, romantic and "old school", with an award-winning restaurant and perfect balcony views of Ponte Vecchio.
Hotel Lungarno (center, with balcony rooms)
Ferragamo biography book in the Lungarno lobby
Lungarno lobby bar with view of Ponte Vecchio - and Ferragamo croco shoes
Lungarno view toward Ponte Vecchio and Hotels Portrait, Gallery Art and Continentale
Hotel Continentale Florence
This is the group's most edgy and avantgarde boutique hotel (member of Design Hotels Group), with a slightly feminine or gay touch, appealing to the urban lounge and party crowd. It also hosts a popular rooftop terrace and a spa.
Entrance to Continentale
View from the popular Continentale "La Terrazza" rooftop directly above Ponte Vecchio
Avantgarde design hotel interior
Crazy elevators at Continentale
Continentale relaxation lounge above the tourist crowd (right at Ponte Vecchio entrance)
Gallery Hotel Art, Florence
This is the group's most commonly accessible hotel (by taste and price), with contemporary design and art exhibitions.
Entrance to Gallery Art
Gallery Art lobby bar and restaurant with a nice sundeck outside
Gallery Art library
Temporary public art installation between Hotel Continentale and Gallery Art
Ferragamo headquarters, flagship store and museum in Palazzo Spini Feroni
(Museum foto: Wikipedia)