Grand Hotel Villa Cora
Style Renaissance of a masterpiece
Setting Bordering on Boboli
Built in the 1870s by Baron Oppenheim for his wife, Grand Hotel Villa Cora is a love letter in art and architecture. Opulent in the extreme, but by no means over-blinged, the interiors reflect the eclectic passions of the aristo and his belle – namely roses, the Orient, ornate parquet, and spectacular frescoes and statuary. The massive heated outdoor pool – the only one in Florence – comes courtesy of the 21st-century renovation, as does the flawless service.
Need to know
- Rooms 46, including six suites.
Double rooms from AU$323.31 (€245), excluding tax at 10 per cent. Please note the hotel charges an additional local city tax of €5.00 per person per night on check-out.
The price shown represents the lowest nightly rate for a double room available at this hotel over the next 21 days. Any price conversions from the hotel's local currency (€245) have been conducted using today's exchange rates from xe.com.
- More details Rates exclude breakfast (€25 each for a massive American buffet) and city tax (€5 a day each).
- Facilities Subterranean spa with sauna, steam room, gym and Jacuzzi, cigar room, gardens, roof terrace and free WiFi throughout. In rooms: flatscreen TV, iPod dock, minibar and rose-scented Annick Goutal bath products.
- Poolside The huge, heated outdoor pool (the only one in Florence) is a rectangular flash of turquoise amid the white-stone patio and green grounds, with loungers and parasols aplenty, as well as a stash of inflatables for the kids. In summer, thanks to the poolside bar and restaurant, food and drink are just steps away – or summon a waiter to your lounger.
- Check-out 12 noon, but flexible and free, subject to availability. Earliest check-in, 2pm.
- Children Little Smiths are welcomed enthusiastically: extra beds are €70 a night, and babysitting can be arranged (€30 an hour, book two days in advance). The restaurant has highchairs and a tot-tailored menu. More...
- Also There’s no smoking anywhere – except the cigar room, where guests can light up a Cuban with impunity. Small dogs are welcome; they’re essential Florentine fashion accessories – just keep them out of the restaurant.
Food and drink at Grand Hotel Villa Cora
Between May and October, all meals are served at Le Pool, a white and glassy eatery flanking the water. The menu is authentically Tuscan (with the odd creative flourish), so expect rich, velvety pasta sauces and masterfully prepared seafood. The tasting menu – fish or meat – takes you on a tour of the region’s signature dishes. In winter, indoor restaurant Il Pasha in the basement takes over kitchen duties.
- Dress code Fabulous in Fendi/Ferragamo (or Massimo Dutti’s closest imitation).
- Top table Take the far table next to the bar at Le Pool and admire the water babies/eavesdrop on the bar chat.
- Last orders Breakfast between 7am and 11am; have lunch between 12.30pm and 2.30pm and dine between 7.30pm and 10.30pm. Lighter bites can be rustled up should you be peckish in between. The last tipples are mixed at midnight in the bar.
- Room service An array of full-on meals, snacks, salads and drinks can be brought to your room at any time.
There’s a chic little outdoor bar beside the restaurant (and, handily, right by the pool), which is well stocked with Tuscan wines and mixes a mean martini. Or try a zingy Cora Spritz (nicknamed ‘Hugo’ for reasons unbeknownst to us), a muddle of mint, prosecco and elderflower. In winter, retreat to Le Long Bar indoors, which has a huge colour-changing glass table, or grab a brandy for a spell in the cigar room.
Also worth knowing
- Weddings This property is suitable for weddings. More...
Grand Hotel Villa Cora 18 viale Machiavelli, Florence, Tuscany, 50125
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In the know
Our favourite rooms
The Forties-themed suite on the fourth floor is the ideal honeymoon hideaway, and the private elevator-key access adds a VIP frisson. Rooms on the piano nobile (first floor) are protected by the Italian government as historically important – and no wonder: in addition to the towering ceilings, ornate frescoes and antiques à gogo, they include the Imperial Suite (105–6), which once housed emperor Akihito. Parental Smiths should hit Family Suite 311 on the Orientally flavoured third floor: there’s an extra twin room.
This is Hermès-scarves-and-giant-sunnies territory, so channel Hepburn. Poolside iPad-tapping is essential for anyone wanting to work that share-checking businessman/track-mixing music-producer look.
Villa Cora goes underground in winter – a network of cunning subterranean tunnels link the main villa with the Villa Eugénie (which houses the spa and some bedrooms) and the poolside restaurant.