Give me the lowdown: Florence’s largest private garden provides the tranquil setting for this character-packed Four Seasons property, a beautifully restored 15th-century Medici palace. With cool, creamy interiors that make one want to glide rather than walk, and a well-heeled clientele made up of business and leisure travellers, the 2008-opened hotel offers 116 bedrooms. Of these, 79 are in the Palazzo della Gherardesca and 37 in the Villa, a former 16th-century convent graced with its own reception and butler service. The hotel’s Michelin-starred Italian restaurant, Il Palagio, meanwhile, pulls guests out of the Renaissance and bang up-to-date, with a contemporary menu of reimagined regional classics and a brilliantly curated wine cellar.
Tell me about the lobby: Studded with huge floral displays and flooded with natural light, the lobby is the beating heart of the hotel. Stories featuring mythological creatures are told in bas relief across its walls, with gorgeous, jungle-green seating arranged to face them, and a dazzlingly vibrant small chapel entirely decorated with original 15th-century frescoes is available to book for an intimate dinner à deux.
Is there a pool? During the summer season, the pool is open from 9am till sundown, while the al fresco Jacuzzi operates year-round. The 10-treatment-room spa has a steam room, fitness facilities and a programme of studio- and garden-based yoga classes. From a menu of treatments that caters to all ages, the signature Bioliv’ Experience is an exfoliating and revitalizing body experience that harnesses the antioxidant and skin-nourishing properties of extra virgin olive oil and purifying active ingredients found in ground olive stones.
How should I get around? Because of its under-the-radar location, on one of the avenues that circles old Florence, the hotel provides a shuttle service to and from the city centre and bikes for guests’ use. Within an easy walk are renowned museums and historic sites such as the Accademia, Uffizi Gallery, Piazza Duomo and the Piazza della Signoria. Speak to one of the concierges to find out about booking one of the exclusive VIP-access experiences that Four Seasons does so well.