Grand Hotel Baglioni Rating: 4.5 Pearls
Housed in the former residences of the Bertolini princes, the Grand Hotel Baglioni lives up to the grand image painted by Florence's past. The hotel is filled with heavy-handed regal touches and ornate decor from top to bottom. The 193 rooms are very spacious (not often the case in a historic building), and feel luxurious, decked out with classic Italian furnishings, large leaded windows, gorgeous dark wood (the ceilings, floors, and furniture), and equally spacious dazzling white bathrooms. Both the rooftop garden and Terrazza Brunelleschi restaurant offer stunning views of Florence. All of this comes with a hefty price tag, of course, but the convenient location, rich design, and outright luxury make the splurge worth it for some.
Golden Tower Hotel & Spa Rating: 4.5 Pearls
The Golden Tower Hotel is a luxury boutique renowned for its decadent touches and prime location. The centuries-old building was once the home of the powerful Strozzi family, and today features a blend of contemporary Italian furnishings, sumptuous fabrics, and rustic architectural details. Swanky guest rooms offer flat-screen TVs, cozy beds, and sparkling marble bathrooms. The posh vibe extends to the Golden Spa with its specially lighted Jacuzzis, and the Golden Chocolate Bar with its selection of more than 30 types of chocolate. The hotel's location is another big draw, as it is close to everything from high-end shopping to popular tourist sights.
Hotel Brunelleschi Rating: 4.0 Pearls
The Hotel Brunelleschi is a historic boutique property that's on the higher end of the price scale -- for good reason. The 95 rooms are of average size by Florence standards, and have lovely, classic decor -- wood floors, crisp white linens, wall panel molding, and in suites, four-poster canopy beds (though some rooms have contemporary touches, such as dramatic headboards). The hotel juxtaposes modern design elements such as glass staircases with historic elements such as old stone walls, and houses a private museum displaying ancient Roman artifacts found near the hotel. It's a convenient location for first-time visitors to Florence, just a short walk away from high-end shopping and popular museums, and the train station.
Palazzo Niccolini al Duomo Rating: 4.0 Pearls
This intimate, family-run boutique is ideal for those seeking an authentic stay in Florence within easy reach of tourist sights. Built centuries ago as the home of a Florentine merchant family, this property was inherited through marriage by the Niccolinis in 1891. They have kept its historic charm intact, having preserved the wood-beamed ceilings and frescoed walls. Each guest room has a unique layout, but all are furnished with antiques, flat-screen TVs, and stocked mini-fridges. Many have large windows that feature stunning views of the iconic Duomo cathedral across the street.
Hotel Loggiato Dei Serviti Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This 16th-century property features a distinguished facade -- and an impressive history to match. Together with the famed Spedale degli Innocenti building, it forms one of Florence's most stunning Renaissance-era architectural complexes. Beautiful arches and columns make for an impressive exterior and the feeling of grandeur continues inside, with wood-beamed ceilings and parquet floors throughout. Rooms aren't quite luxurious, but do feature antique furnishings, flat-screen TVs, and air-conditioning. The small, plain bathrooms are a bit of a letdown. The hotel's location on the Piazza della Santissima Annunziata puts it close to many tourist sights, but some guests may feel uneasy about the homeless people who linger in this popular square.
Hotel J and J Rating: 3.5 Pearls
This former convent turned boutique hotel is conveniently located within walking distance of the city's main attractions, but is situated in what looks like the back alley of a building complex. Inside, winding concrete stairways and dimly lit hallways make for a somewhat unsettling vibe. Most guest rooms have a disappointingly stark appearance, with bare walls, plain white bedding, and simple wood furnishings -- the modern, pretty bathrooms are the only highlight. The public spaces feel much more welcoming, such as the charming lobby with arched ceilings and adjacent courtyard with potted plants. Free breakfast is a great perk, but the free Wi-Fi can only be accessed from the lobby.