1950s Jet Set Chic, $$$
If there's one thing Italians excel at, it's family dynasties. And if there's one Italian city that excels at family dynasties, it's Florence. The town that gave us the Medicis of the Renaissance is also the home base of Salvatore Ferragamo, the legendary 20th-century shoemaker-turned-fashion-emperor whose styles were beloved by the jet set and Hollywood in equal measure. In recent decades, the Ferragamo Family concerns have expanded (as family concerns tend to do) into Lungarno Collection, the hospitality division that manages hotels, restaurants, and retreats in Florence, Rome, and Tuscany.
Portrait Firenze, the centrally located, five-star, all-suite hotel on the banks of the Arno River with incredible views of Ponte Vecchio bridge, embodies the primary values of the company — style and service — with a special nod to the 1950s, when Florence was living its fashion high, attracting a glamorous cast of actors, designers, directors, and royals. The elegant design by Florentine architect Michele Bönan (whose work we love from the original J.K. Place Florence and other nearby Lungarno Hotels like Hotel Continentale and Gallery Art Hotel) features a palette of grey, black, and gold — nothing bold, ostentatious, or showy. The drama comes from photography collection throughout the hotel — images from the '50s and '60s of such icons (and Florence lovers) as Maria Callas, Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, and Franco Zeffirelli. The hotel's name — portrait — is meant to evoke bespoke, tailor-made service. To that end, guests complete questionnaires before arrival to indicate their preferences for rooms, pillows, food, and any other concerns. You might say the hotel wants to fit guests like a glove. Or perhaps — if the metaphor isn't too on the nose — a custom-made shoe.
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At a Glance
The Vibe: Chic, understated Italian finery, with all the comforts that befit guests (and hoteliers) who know from comfort.
Standout Detail: The photography collection, a veritable walking tour though a golden, bygone era.
This Place Is Perfect For: A stylish stay in a central location.
Rooms: 37 suites, ranging in size from 40 to 120 square meters, are divided among six floors and ten categories and have large windows that take advantage of the views of the Arno, Ponte Vecchio, and the surrounding hillscape. All suites have walk-in closets, bathrooms lined in Carrara marble, Salvatore Ferragamo bathroom amenities, a concealed kitchenette for making cocktails or snacks, a Bluetooth system for music and films, an iPad with docking station, and music and DVD libraries. The Austrian company Dogue provides kennels and food and water bowls for pets.
On Site: The hotel doesn't have a gym, but guests can use the White Iris Beauty Spa at sister property Hotel Continentale next door.
Food + Drink: The hotel's on-site restaurant, Caffè dell'Oro, serves an all-day menu with a focus on regional Italian dishes, many prepared with produce from a nearby farm. Two other Lungarno Collection restaurants are steps away: The Fusion Bar & Restaurant, which specializes in Nikkei and Japanese cuisine, and Borgo San Jacopo, a one-Michelin-star gourmet restaurant with a 900-label wine cellar that only serves dinner.
What to Do Nearby
For a global capital of design and art, Florence is very compact and easily walkable. The hotel's central location along the Arno is not only picturesque but also incredibly convenient. Three minutes away in either direction are Museo Salvatore Ferragamo and via Tornabuoni (the street famous for its high-end fashion boutiques — Valentino, Pucci, Fendi) and The Uffizi Galleries. In ten minutes, you've reached Pitti Palace and Boboli Gardens across the Arno, or the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore and The Baptistery of St. John in Piazza del Duomo. You probably already know to visit the glorious Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella for soaps and unguents to take home as souvenirs, but AquaFlor Firenze is the lesser-known and just-as-wonderful find.