Where to find contemporary cool in the heart of historic Florence

With its fashionable credentials and killer location, the Gallery Hotel Art in Florence is a great way to visit the city in style

With its fashionable credentials and killer location, the Gallery Hotel Art in Florence is a great way to visit the city in style

Why go?

Grand palazzo-style hotels are ten a penny in Florence, but the Gallery Hotel Art offers a quieter, more contemporary setting to rest your head. 

Owned by the Ferragamo family (there’s a glossy Salvatore Ferragamo biography next to the bed in place of a bible) the hotel was designed by Florentine architect Michele Bonan to be a sleek haven of neutrals: think dark wood floors, travertine marble bathrooms, white linens and a carefully curated selection of contemporary art hanging on the walls. 

Things to do

As far as locations go, the Gallery Hotel Art is extremely hard to beat. In a small, quiet enclave near the busy Via Calimala that leads straight down to the city’s famous Medieval bridge, the Ponte Vecchio, the hotel puts you in the heart of things without feeling like you’re going to be run over by a stampede of tourists the moment you step out the door. 

All of Florence’s major sights are a 10-15 minute walk away so there’s no excuse not to immerse yourself in the rich culture of this most romantic of cities. The Ponte Vecchio itself is a minute’s walk away, an ancient bridge of tiny goldsmiths where you can pick up a ring or classic medallion necklace.

From the bridge you can head south of the river to visit the interior and grounds of the vast renaissance Palazzo Pitti, or north up Via Calimala to the 13th century Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, with its gasp-inducingly beautiful facade of pink and green marble and enormous red tiled dome, which you can climb up into for aerial views of the city. 

Besides the countless art galleries and churches to visit, it’s also worth leaving space in your suitcase for culinary treats from the Mercato Centrale, a one-stop for cured meats, olive oils, cheeses, wild mushrooms, truffle shavings and every pasta shape imaginable. 

The food 

One of the Gallery Hotel Art’s big draws is its Fusion Bar and restaurant, serving up Nikkei (Japan-Peruvian fusion food) with a killer cocktail menu. The restaurant’s inside-outside layout, with comfy white sofas, makes it the ideal spot for al fresco dining or a summer nightcap. 

Though, of course, it would be a sin to visit Florence without eating your bodyweight in local food too. Don’t leave without trying the cheese and pear ravioli at Coquinarius. The Osteria del Porcellino - named after the bronze statue of a boar in the nearby Mercato del Porcellino - is also excellent, a place where in-the-know locals head for long lunches of Florentine veal and Orecchiette pasta with sausage, broccoli and toasted breadcrumbs. 

What to pack 

Comfortable 'Dad' trainers for all the pavement pounding you’ll be doing (those ancient cobbles aren’t kind to heels), lots of cotton dresses to withstand the soaring city temperatures (if you’re visiting in the summer) and a small, practical handbag you can wear across your front to avoid city pickpockets. Shoulders need to be covered in some of the city’s sacred spaces so pack a scarf if you’re wearing something sleeveless. 

Hotel Gallery Art has rooms available starting from £185 per night. Based on 2 adults sharing, excluding breakfast. For booking and further information please visit lungarnocollection.com or call +39 0552726 4000. 

Lucy Pavia