Overview: The family who built Italy’s Ferragamo shoe empire also owns a cluster of hotels called the Lungarno Collection. They operate several intimate hotels in Florence, all on the same block, including the brand new 36-unit Portrait Suites, which opened in April. But that one didn’t open until two weeks after my trip, so I stayed instead at their 74-room Gallery Hotel Art, next door, which is the most affordable of the Lungarno hotels in Florence.
The Location: The hotel is tucked into a quiet courtyard just off the main boulevard that runs along the Amo River adjacent to the Ponte Vecchio bridge, just around the corner from Piazza della Signoria and the Duomo, in the heart of historic city center. Surprisingly, despite being in the middle of everything, this courtyard location is extremely quite and hidden.
Room: Gallery Double (entry-level category), fourth floor. The room is tiny, as expected, but we’re here for only one night, barely using the room, so it’s big enough. The bathroom is thankfully quite large, with a double vanity, heated towels, plush bathrobes and Ferragamo toiletries. The king bed is superb, wrapped with exquisite Italian sheets and fluffy down pillows. There’s barely room to accommodate two accent chairs, clad in beautiful Ferragamo leather. Seven-foot tall French windows open onto a false balcony, offering a great birds-eye view of local life on the narrow streets below.
Food/drink: The hotel’s lunch/dinner restaurant is called Fusion and serves Asian inspired cuisine and sushi. Fortunately, they also serve great local salumi. A lavish buffet breakfast is served in the library, just off the lobby.
WiFi: Free and fairly fast.
Public spaces: As the name suggests, every inch of the hotel also serves as a gallery, showcasing modern installations that change every year or so. The library is calm and inviting. There is no gym.
Service: From the bellmen to the maids, all the staff are genuinely warm and friendly. Everyone at the front desk also doubles as a concierge, able to assist with dinner reservations and the like. Turndown service in the evenings.
Cost: $255, advance purchase rate on Expedia, a savings of nearly 25 percent.
Bottom line: Florence is an expensive city with a lot of very expensive luxury hotels. The Gallery Art is one of the best values for the money in the city’s historic core, offering true luxury at a fraction of the price of the bigger hotels.
Where: Vicolo dell’Oro, 5