The Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco is a three-and-a-half-pearl family-run property set on a narrow street in the center of Florence. Several top sights, including the Duomo, are minutes away on foot. The boutique hotel is housed in two 15th-century buildings, with charming original architectural details throughout, as well as an extensive collection of contemporary art. No two of its 40 rooms are identical, and all are strikingly furnished with antiques and have frescoed or coffered ceilings. A free buffet breakfast and an excellent organic bistro are top features at this impressive, somewhat idiosyncratic property. Travelers looking for a boutique stay with grand, classical interiors may wish to try Hotel dei Macchiaioli.
Charming family-run hotel with an impressive art collection and 15th-century origins
The Hotel Il Guelfo Bianco is certainly distinctive, from its cheery, yellow facade with wood-shuttered windows to its boldly decorated interior spaces. An extensive -- and valuable -- collection of vibrant contemporary art brings modern flair to the classically Italian public spaces, which boast coffered ceilings, terra-cotta floors, and ornate furnishings. Many of the 15th-century buildings' medieval details have remained, and are apparent in narrow hallways and exposed stone brickwork. The atmosphere is friendly and personal at this family-run property, which appeals to a mix of vacationing couples and families.
Set on narrow street, close restaurants, Florence's iconic Duomo, and other top sights
The hotel is located on the narrow but busy Via Cavour, in central Florence. The street is only open to buses and taxis, and it's one of the main arteries leading to the iconic Duomo cathedral, which is a five-minute walk from the hotel. The central location is a short walk from most other top sights. The Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses Michelangelo's "David," is just two minutes on foot, and Piazza Signoria and Piazza Santa Maria Novella are both about a 10-minute walk. Numerous bars, restaurants, cafes, and gelato shops are within a short stroll (there's also a McDonald's next door). It's a 12-minute walk to the Santa Maria Novella train station, and it takes about 25 minutes to reach Florence Airport via public transit. Taking a cab is roughly a 25-minute ride.
Original antiques and contemporary artworks, but quirky decor may not suit all tastes
Due to the age of the buildings, no two of the hotel's guest rooms are identical. Interiors continue in the same vein as the rest of the property, with a quirky mix of old and new. Original coffered ceilings, exposed brick, and antique furniture is fused with colorful paint, patterned fabrics, and modern artworks, and some rooms feature beautiful ceiling frescos. The overall effect is certainly striking, although the eclectic look may not suit all tastes.
All rooms come with flat-screen TVs (with a good range of channels), well-stocked minibars, and electronic safes, but lack kettles or coffeemakers. Wi-Fi is fast and free, and charging stations for electronic devices are an added bonus. Bathrooms are traditional with flamboyant touches. There are hand-painted tiles, and all include stall showers or shower/tub combos, plus wall-mounted hairdryers, and olive oil-based toiletries. Rooms are sufficiently soundproofed, and overlook the street, an internal courtyard, or over neighboring rooftops.
Free breakfast and cozy organic bistro, but the elevator doesn't access all floors
The dining options at this small hotel are its top feature. A free buffet breakfast is served each morning in the long and colorful breakfast room. The spread includes breads, cheeses, cereals, boiled eggs, and cold cuts, but there are no hot items. The hotel's organic bistro is a highlight, with a menu of farm-to-table and locally-sourced dishes. Many ingredients are produced on the owner's farm, and vegetarian choices are plentiful. There are only a handful of tables, including a couple outside on a front terrace. A decent wine list is also available, and guests can purchase local products to take home. There's no fitness room, but Wi-Fi throughout is free and speedy. Travelers with limited mobility should be aware that while there's an elevator, it doesn't provide access to all floors.
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