What defines a luxury stay? Is luxury equal to expensive? Does the service need to be white glove and impeccable?
Don’t get us wrong, we love high end properties with grand rooms and staff trained to anticipate your every move and need. We would be lying if we say that we don’t enjoy a personal butler or having all of our wildest dreams served on a silver platter, yet in many cases those properties lack the personal connection to the city and instead create a microcosm within the city.
There is something extremely comforting and special about staying in a boutique, family run property. Yes, your favorite snack might be missing from the in room bar, the wifi is not always working at high speed (or sometimes not at all) and the shower pressure may mimic that of a leaky garden hose BUT all of this is compensated for by authenticity – the ability to live as locals with locals. Within the walls you gain an emotional relationship with everything contained in the structure that surrounds you, the character that is at times lacking from “luxury” hotels of a certain size. You have unprecedented access to people who want you to enjoy the city through their eyes. In these places you are given the priceless feeling of belonging. A feeling that makes you forgive all those missing extras, that at the end of the day don’t really matter, and make you forget that unfortunately your stay is just temporary.
In Florence’s city center there are quite a few properties that make us feel and live the city exactly as when we lived there: at a slow pace, without expectation, enjoying those moments between an aperitivo overlooking Piazza Santo Spirito or a morning coffee overlooking Giardino Torrigiani.
Hotel Palazzo Guadagni
Built in 1505 Palazzo Guadagni stands out as one of the most important and recognizable monuments of the Florentine Oltrarno. The charm of Palazzo Guadagni and its Loggia have always attracted renewed figures. In 1999, the great film Director Franco Zeffirelli shot part of “Tea with Mussolini” in the Palazzo.
In 2007 Ferdinando Budini Gattai took over the restoration of this ancient treasure that lasted almost two years. He put all his heart into the rebirth of the Palazzo with important renovations such as restoring the frescos previously covered up transforming the guesthouse into the charming place we know today: Hotel Palazzo Guadagni.
The Loggia provides guests with stunning views on Santo Spirito square and the hills surrounding Florence while sipping their morning coffee or admiring sunset for aperitivo.
This historical residence has been the home of several institutions and public figures throughout its history: from the palace of the Governor, to the Ministry of Economics, a syrup factory, and now an artist residence. Numeroventi is well beyond a stunning Florentine historic palazzo, creative hub or beautiful apartment… as Sheila Lam’s article, title ‘Unpacking our Lives’ and written during quarantine, describes it:
“I’ve often thought about a quote from Joan Didion, “you have to pick the places you don’t walk away from.” I always attributed it to a sense of home, a sense of knowing. But at a time when I am displaced and grounded at once, what does home mean?
I have spent over a month here at Numeroventi. Some days I work from Loft II, leading discussions on video calls or taking in a digital yoga class. Other days I read downstairs in Loft IV, periodically glancing up at the resplendent fresco above. I sprawl ingredients across the kitchen counter when cooking and sometimes leave the dishes in the sink until the next day
For some, home is a sense of familiarity, somewhere that reminds them of a place they’ve been before or a place where you can lay roots[…] But at its core, home is a comfort, a salve. It is for me, a place where I can have the space to unpack, both literally and metaphorically. A locality where I am at ease with my body and where my thoughts and feelings can come out freely. Bridging both a physical realm with my mental and emotional one. Perhaps, nowhere more than here at an artist residency do I find the idea of home.”
Florence six or seven years ago was fertile ground for something different to happen – hospitality was a ‘given’, done in a certain way, ranging from ‘triste tradizionale’ to ‘lussuoso costoso’ without very much in the middle that was personal, eclectic, quirky and passionately conveyed. Betty Soldi, a fabulous English typographer and her Florentine husband Matteo Perduca, combined their knowledge, creativity and strengths to create a fearless and playful world.
A hotel collection which fully represents them and which makes everyone who stumbles upon them feel at home, as if they were experiencing Florence as friends of a local, and not of any local, but as Matteo and Betty friend’s, which energy is contagious.
Every lamp, couch, cabinet, book on the shelves in every room of their three properties (Ad Astra, SoprArno, Oltrarno Splendid) has a different look, layout and feel which has been curated and masterminded by them, commissioning local artisans to make something new in a traditional way, or rediscovering a use for something apparently obsolete. The curious traveller was searching for this…cultural nourishment and a lift for the soul. As many guests have in the past, you’ll find yourself going back, requesting your beloved same bedroom…and bumping into Matteo on the street while he’s most probably running around Florence with a chair between his legs heading to the upholsterer with metres of a special fabric he sourced somewhere or Betty always in the midst of adding a magic touch to one of the property’s walls.They’re the Florentines everyone wants to befriend.