Florence may be famous for food, history, art, and fashion, but it also boasts something else that’s pretty special: the Portrait Firenze hotel. Situated a stone’s throw away from the iconic Ponte Vecchio bridge and overlooking the River Arno, it couldn’t be more perfectly situated.
The property is also surrounded by stylish boutiques and famous sights such as the Uffizi Gallery, with the Piazza della Signoria situated just a few minutes’ walk away. It also ticks all the boxes when it comes to first-class service, stunning interiors, and those little luxury touches that make a five-star hotel a five-star hotel. I discovered firsthand that the Portrait Firenze has it all – and then some.
The property enjoys the privilege of being part of The Leading Hotels of the World collection, a group that boasts over 375 of the world’s most luxurious resorts, hotels, and spas. To make the cut, a destination has to go through rigorous tests and meet the highest standards of services, if that tells you anything.
The incredible experience starts before you’ve even arrived; you’ll be asked to fill out a pre-stay questionnaire via e-mail, which covers everything from what type of pillows you prefer to your favorite fruit, personal interests, and even what type of music you’d want playing at night for your turndown service (jazz, classical, reggae, and hip-hip are all on offer). This step ensures that each guest gets the best possible experience.
My room temperature was set just how I like it, and I had a hot cup of herbal tea waiting for me by my bed at night – all little details the hotel had learnt from my questionnaire. On the subject of the turndown service, it’s honestly next level. Each guest gets a Ferragamo ‘Tuscan Soul’ hand cream on their bedside table as well as a mini Ferragamo perfume (or aftershave for men). The level of personalized perfection takes your breath away; there’s even a loaded-up iPad next to the bed that greets you with your photo on the screen.
Perhaps the most fashionable hotel in Florence, the Portrait Firenze is (unsurprisingly) part of the Lungarno Collection, which is owned by the family of legendary shoe designer Salvatore Ferragamo. As soon as you enter the lounge-meets-lobby, you’ll sense that every corner exudes style and sophistication. Oh, and there’s none of that queuing-at-a-reception-desk malarkey. Instead, you’ll be asked to take a seat on one of the sumptuous sofas where staff will come to you with a welcome drink.
A modern color palette of gray, white, cream, brown, and beige features prominently throughout the hotel, while trendy furniture and framed artwork add cool, contemporary touches. The hotel’s name, meanwhile, was inspired by the monochrome photographs of iconic stars from the 50s and 60s that are displayed throughout, showcasing glamorous people and moments from a bygone era. You’ll see the likes of Sophia Loren and Grace Kelly alongside stunning shots of Florence and its sights. My suite had its own black-and-white photograph of Marchesa Pucci staying at the hotel in 1955, lit up in a gorgeous golden frame.
Although the Portrait Firenze translates to serious luxury, it also has an intimate, boutique-y vibe thanks to its size. Spread out over six floors, the hotel has only 37 suites – no standard rooms here – that start at 40 square meters, offering every guest plenty of space.
Speaking of my room, it was quite simply beautiful. Featuring dark-wood floors, duck-egg-blue walls with gold accents, quirky touches like pineapple ornaments, plush rugs, an ornately patterned Japanese screen, modern armchairs, and an incredible selection of coffee-table books on all things fashion, it felt homely but in the chicest way possible.
The interiors were designed by Michele Bonan who, although being known worldwide in the luxury hospitality sector, hails from Florence himself. He knew just how to create the perfect blend of contemporary and aristocratic, focusing on complementary color combinations, a mix of metals, relaxing fabrics, and juxtaposing textures.
Huge floor-to-ceiling windows flood the space with natural light whilst revealing breathtaking river views. Mirrors have been cleverly placed on the walls to ensure that, wherever you stand, you can enjoy that magical scenery. The enormous beds are made up with your choice of pillows and linen while the bathrooms are made entirely of marble from the city of Carrara and feature amenity kits by Ferragamo – of course.
There’s a cleverly concealed kitchenette where you can make yourself some tea or grab a snack, a Bluetooth system that allows you to play music through the TV or your own device, and music and DVD libraries to keep you entertained. The use of technology is impressive, and what’s even better is how subtly it’s displayed. You can even take a selfie in the lifts with the built-in TV screen or set the music for your ride up or down. Needless to say, you’ll have some fun with that. And once you step out, you can ride around town vintage style using one of the hotel’s bikes, the perfect way to explore Florence.
Whether you’re after a strong cup of coffee, a delicious dinner, or a quick snack before you hit the galleries, the Caffè dell’Oro bistro (located on the ground floor) is the answer to all your culinary cravings. Open from breakfast until midnight, its elegant setting and interiors make it the perfect place to kick back with a cuppa and watch the world go by.
This was, without a doubt, one of the best hotels – if not the best – I’ve ever stayed at. I can’t fault anything, and the attention to detail and genuine hospitality made me feel both at home and incredibly special. If you’re looking for the perfect place to stay in Florence, look no further. This really is it.
Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli, 4 50123 Florence
(+39) 055 2726 4000