1950s Italian Chic, $$
Italians care a great deal about their bella figura. Google might translate this as "beautiful figure," but the intended meaning is deeper and more subtle. Having and giving bella figura means you're presenting yourself well, not only in your dress but also in your behavior: It's the impression you make and leave behind. It means not embarrassing yourself — or, perhaps more importantly since this is Italy, your parents and grandparents. Exhibit good manners, good style, and a warm demeanor, and yours is a bella figura. Act boorish or entitled, rude or sloppy, and yours is a brutta figura. Ugly. Not the look you want.
If hotels can be said to have a bella figura, Hotel Continentale in Florence more than fits the bill. In part, credit goes to its pedigree: Like sister hotel Portrait Firenze, it’s one of the Lungarno Hotels owned by the Ferragamo family, fashion royalty in Italy. Add to that its look by noted hotel designer Michele Bönan, who took inspiration from 1950s and 1960s Florence, a post-war heyday of fashion, creativity, and fun. Its location is another bonus: both totally central, at the foot of the Ponte Vecchio, and historic, in a medieval tower that was one of the few buildings left after World War II. And finally, the hotel's reasonable price point is the feather in the cap: An affordable stay in a very pricey town, four-star Continentale more than proves that style and money don't have to go hand in hand.
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At a Glance
The Vibe: Midcentury Italian glamour.
Standout Detail: The sea of crisp, cool white every where you look.
This Place Is Perfect For: Travelers with style that exceeds their budget. The entry level rooms are a great value.
Rooms: The 43 rooms and suites with city or river views are elegantly decorated in many shades of white (bed linens, armchairs, draperies). Light wood furniture and leather details provide neutral accents; tailored but airy white curtains surround the four-poster beds. Deluxe rooms and suites have Lavazza coffee makers, and Junior Suites have Technogym weight racks. The two-level Panorama Consorti Suite has a private terrace and views of the Ponte Vecchio. The WiFi is complimentary and the bathroom amenities are by Salvatore Ferragamo.
On Site: White Iris Beauty Spa by Comfort Zone is located in the hotel and offers a full range of services, with loads of body massages, face treatments, mani/pedis, and waxing for men and women. The Grotta Giusti body wrap and mud mask would be particularly relaxing after a day walking the cobblestones. The hotel does not have a gym. But when you're in Florence, your primary form of exercise will be walking for hours every day.
Food + Drink: La Terrazza ("the terrace") rooftop bar occupies the top floor of the medieval Consorti tower. Come for cocktails like Tommy's Romerita, made with reposado tequila, homemade rosemary syrup, and mezcal, and I'm Not A Spritz, made with bourbon, Aperol, amaro, and mint, and stay for views of Brunelleschi’s Dome and Palazzo Vecchio. Nearby restaurants in the other Lungarno Hotels include Michelin-starred Borgo San Jacopo (innovative, contemporary menu), Caffè dell’Oro (an all-day menu of traditional Italian cuisine), The Fusion Bar & Restaurant (cocktails and raw food), and Picteau Bistrot & Bar at Hotel Lungarno, which has outdoor tables along the Arno and artwork by Picasso and Marino Marini.
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. A few minutes away are Museo Salvatore Ferragamo, via Tornabuoni (the street famous for its high-end fashion boutiques — Valentino, Pucci, Fendi), and The Uffizi Galleries (stop for a heavenly sandwich at 'Ino before or after the art). If you're feeling the fashion vibe, Gucci Garden is a fun dive into the design house — a boutique, museum, bookstore, and restaurant. 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.