Peek out of a window at the riverside Hotel Lungarno, and you’ll see old-world barchetti boats bobbing under the Ponte Vecchio, in the (extremely) historic heart of Florence. A roll-call of Renaissance must-sees are on your doorstep – stroll one way for the Uffizi and the other for the majestic Boboli Gardens. You don’t have to go anywhere for art, though – there are 450 originals in the hotel itself. The interiors are as sophisticated as you’d expect when the owner is a certain Signore Salvatore Ferragamo, and the Michelin-starred restaurant is masterminded by star chef Peter Brunel.
Get this when you book through us:
A bottle of wine, Salvatore Ferragamo bath products, free entry to the Salvatore Ferragamo Museum and free bike rental.
Noon; check-in 2pm, but both are flexible, subject to availability.
Double rooms from $396.71 (€360), 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.
Rates do not include breakfast. A la carte dishes start at €10, continental buffet is €28, and the Gourmet Breakfast including eggs any way you like is €35. Under-3s eat for free.
At the hotel
Free WiFi. In rooms: TV, iPad, Bose Soundlink Mini music system, wired internet, Lavazza coffee machine, minibar, free bottled water, Salvatore Ferragamo bath products.
Our favourite rooms
From the Rooftop Terrace Suite River View, feast your eyes on a 360-degree cityscape taking in the Duomo, Palazzo Pitti and the Ponte Vecchio; the interiors are dedicated to the abstract designs of Luciano Schifano.
In-room treatments can be arranged, or you can pop over to sister hotel, Continentale, for a session in their serene White Iris beauty spa. If you’re after a personal trainer, just ask the hotel staff. They can also provide yoga mats and training videos so you can work out in your own room.
A travel paint set, to capture (or at least try to capture) this capital of art on paper. Worst case, you can write your 5-year-old niece’s name on the bottom and stick it on your fridge – no one will ever know.
All public areas are accessible by wheelchair; some of the rooms have roll-in showers.
Critter companions are welcomed, as long as they don’t exceed the 10kg weight limit. There’s no extra charge, and a dog bed, bowl and a few pedigree snacks will be waiting in your room. See more pet-friendly hotels in Florence.
All ages welcome. Cots and baby bed linen can be added to all rooms. Babysitting is available for €30 an hour; book at least one day in advance. Highchairs and changing mats available. Crayons and paints provided on request.
River views make an excellent side dish to go with your meal – snaffle a table by the window.
Fine dining deserves fashion to match – fix up and look sharp with your own take on elegant, Italian glamour.
Borgo San Jacopo has a Michelin-star to its name and a visionary chef in the kitchen: Peter Brunel. Order à la carte from the Italian-format menu of aperitivi, primi and secondi courses – for instance, potato foam with trout eggs and truffle pearls, followed by blue cheese fondue gnocchi, and seawater-stewed lamb with a hint of whisky. Sommelier Salvatore Biscotti is on hand to help you choose from over 900 wines. Plain white tablecloths and muted grey interiors allow the food – and the riverside view – to take centre stage.
Picteau Lounge is a tribute to Picasso and Cocteau, but it’s not short of its own liquid masterpieces either. Nab a seat on the Ponte-facing balcony, and pick from the negroni menu, sip a sweet Il Principe (bourbon, banana syrup and walnut bitters), or plump for something from the wine list – this is Italy, after all. The refined parlour is as well suited to afternoon tea as it is to an evening aperitivo, with royal blue and white upholstery giving it a nautical flavour. There’s a full food menu too, featuring light bites and sandwiches as well as hearty helping of veal steak and Moscardini octopus.
Breakfast is served in the Sala River from 7am to 11am. Borgo San Jacopo serves dinner from 7pm to 10pm daily. Picteau Lounge is open from 11am to 11pm daily.
You can order dishes from the Picteau Lounge menu to be delivered to you room. If you’re halfway through a lie-in, order breakfast à la carte.
The hotel is smack-bang in the heart of Florence, on the south bank of the Arno just yards downriver from the Ponte Vecchio. It’s five minutes to the Uffizi, and ten minutes to the Duomo or the Boboli Gardens.
You can fly into Florence airport from major cities around Europe, including international hubs such as London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam. From there, it’s an 11km, 30-minute drive to the hotel (transfers cost €50). Ryanair and Easyjet both have routes from the UK to Pisa; it’s roughly two hours from the hotel (transfers cost €200). Call Smith24 for help arranging any part of your trip.
High-speed Trenitaliatrains arrive from Rome, Venice and Milan into Santa Maria Novella station, which is just over 1km from the hotel. If you don’t fancy tackling the walk through town with your cases, arrange a hotel transfer for €35.
If you’re plotting an extended trip around Tuscany, you’ll want to rent a car (or a Vespa, if that’s how you roll), but city-breakers can easily do without: Florence is very walkable. It’s tricky to find parking near the hotel, but you can hand the keys to the valet for €35 per day.
Worth getting out of bed for
Florence is best enjoyed on a leisurely amble through the storied streets and bustling piazzas, but if you want to mix things up, the hotel has bikes and a maps of suggested jogging routes. The stretch between the Ponte Vecchio and the Duomo is the most history-laden, but also the busiest; call our expert Smith24 team to arrange tours led by local guides or book a trip down the Arno on a traditional barchetto boat. The Uffizi (Piazzale degli Uffizi, 6) is the must-visit home of Renaissance art – be sure to reserve tickets in advance, or prepare to wait in line for your chance to see works by Botticelli, Raphael et al. See Michelangelo's David in all his glory at the Galleria dell’Accademia (Via Ricasoli, 58/60), and pop into the Mercato Centrale for your fill of Tuscany’s finest edible bounty. All hotel guests can visit the Salvatore Ferragamo museum (Piazza di Santa Trinita, 5/R) for free (you can put your savings towards a pair of shoes).
The Michelin-star-totingLa Bottega Del Buon Caffè (69/R Lungarno Benvenuto Cellini) is helmed by Florentine chef Antonello Sardi, who stays true to his roots with a menu of local produce expertly and creatively prepared; there are over 1,000 wines to choose from too. For all Florence’s charms, Naples still has the edge on pizza; luckily,Il Pizzaiuolo (Via dei Macci, 113/R) is here to wood-fire the wafer-thin discs of dough in true Neapolitan style, and load them up with produce from Campania. The family-run Trattoria Sabatino (Via Pisana 2/R) is a no-frills favourite away from the most tourist-trampled drags. Expect red-chequered tablecloths, terracotta tiles and farmhouse decor, plus hearty pastas made to time-honoured recipes.
If gelato is top of your list, make your first stop Grom(Via del Campanile, 2); if it isn’t, consider reassessing your priorities. Procacci (Via Tornabuoni, 64R) has been serving deli delights since 1885 – truffle-laced panini are the speciality, paired with a smooth Marchesi Antinori wine. For a crash course in telling a chianti from a carmignano, join a wine-tasting session at Enoteca Pitti (Piazza Pitti, 16).
Work your way through the extensive list at rustic wine bar Coquinarius(11/R Via delle Oche), which serves the fruits of Chianti country and beyond in a vibrant, vaulted setting behind the Duomo. The Fusion (at the Continentale hotel, 3 Vicolo dell'Oro) is a slice of modernity in the heart of historic Florence – order an artichoke-infused negroni or a mashup of Lagavulin single malt with sweet amaretto, and pair your drink with delicate sushi and tapas.
‘Elegance and comfort are not incompatible, and whoever maintains the contrary simply doesn’t know what he’s talking about’. Shoe designer to the stars Salvatore Ferragamo might have been talking about high heels but, bouncing around our suite at Hotel Lungarno, it's a joy to see that his design principles ring true throughout the family hotel business.
Moments beforehand, after a bumpy taxi ride through the hubbub of the largely pedestrianised city, we arrived at the hotel to a heart-warming Italian welcome and three sweet words any weary traveller is happy to hear: ‘we upgraded you.’ Our River View Studio Suite is the epitome of Italian elegance with a Juliet balcony suspended over the River Arno. The vista is magical and Mr Smith is slightly star-struck, or rather ‘sight-struck’, by our front-row view of Florence’s blockbuster bridge, the legendary Ponte Vecchio.
So, after testing our Lavazza coffee machine, and admiring the ginormous bed, crisp linens, plush velvet sofa and marble bathroom, we peel ourselves away in pursuit of fresh air and famous frescos. Both mine and Mr Smith’s first time in Firenze, with just 36 hours to do the place justice. So the plan is this: to see as much and eat as much as humanly possible. The city is tightly packed and easy to wander on foot, so off we amble, in the vague direction of the orange-tiled crown of the Duomo, a beacon in the blue skies above.
Our first stop is Borgo Antico, a trattoria that comes highly recommended by our genial concierge as a top spot to people-watch whilst tucking into Tuscan specials. One carafe of Montepulciano later and we’re about to take down a seared Tomahawk steak as big as our table, with a tasty panzanella salad on the side.
After lunch we weave our way across the piazza to Gelateria della Passera where the list of organic gelatos on offer is almost as long as the queue outside the Uffizi. After much umming, ahhing and onerous decision-making I get my lips around their fig and ricotta gelato. Ice cream will never be the same again.
Florence has a mighty big checklist of must-dos: galleries, gardens, museums and palaces that keep tourists coming back in their droves. But we opt for a more casual approach to exploring and lose hours in the tangle of romantic cobbled streets, gazing into palazzo courtyards, colourful artisan workshops and candle-lit chapels that have barely been touched since Dante’s days.
As aperitivo hour strikes, we duck into La Ménagère 1896, originally Firenze’s first homeware shop and now, over a century later, an enchanting home to an experimental florist, chi-chi shop, industrial restaurant and basement jazz bar. Forget any fusty impressions of Florence, the vibe here is more Shoreditch hipster-hangout.
Before we turn in for the evening we settle into a cosy corner of the Lungarno lounge for a riverside cocktail. In the heart of the city and within reaching distance of the Arno beneath us we feel lucky to have the perfect nightcap nook just a flight of stairs away from our marshmallowy bed. The lounge bar, like the rest of the hotel, is luxurious and stately without being OTT. The family love of Firenze, and of art, is apparent everywhere; more than 400 artworks fill the 63-room hotel. Original Picasso and Cocteau masterpieces hold court in the eponymous PicTeau Lounge.
All self-respecting culture vultures and city-breakers know that Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance – but how many know it’s the birthplace of the Negroni too? Well I certainly do (now), and it turns out they don’t get more creative than the selection at the Lungarno. I bypass the curious-sounding sage and coffee infusions, opting instead for an Earl Grey number that arrives in a teacup complete with dehydrated Campari teabag.
Come morning my Earl Grey is void of any alcohol but that’s probably for the best as we’re again heeding the advice of our wise concierge and scampering out to the Uffizi before brekkie to dodge the queues. Straight through the doors as they open for the day, we’re giddy with excitement at having the place almost to ourselves. It might be morning but it all feels rather Night at the Museum. We make a beeline for the Botticelli’s hoping to get a glimpse before the hordes arrive. The Birth of Venus is the real crowd-pleaser and we’re early enough to have a moment alone with the goddess of love.
Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Donatella – after a morning power walk around Italy’s greatest art gallery we return to the Lungarno ravenous and primed to really enjoy the bountiful hotel breakfast. Inspired by the Italian charm of the 1950s, the restaurant walls are adorned with fashion sketches and photographs of Salvatore Ferragamo in his Hollywood heydays.
As we admire the artworks an impeccably-presented waiter checks in on us, topping up our indulgent morning mimosas and equipping us with a few insider tips for the day ahead. It’s true that Salvatore found fame as a prodigious shoemaker but I can happily confirm that the Ferrgamo family certainly know how to do hospitality too.
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