5-Star Hotel Guide


Florence, the birthplace of the Renaissance, changed the way we see the world


5-star guide to Florence

Florence, or Firenze, is the capital of Tuscany. One of the world's most aesthetically perfect cities, Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance and a treasure trove of art and architecture, inspiring writers, poets and artists for centuries.

For anyone seeking a combination of culture, cuisine, romance and luxury, then Florence has it all. Here you will one of the world's most exquisite cities steeped in inspiration and history. It has captivated many over the centuries, including Mark Twain, who in 1893 wrote “This is the fairest picture on our planet, the most enchanting to look upon, the most satisfying to the eye and the spirit. To see the sun sink down, drowned on his pink and purple and golden floods, and overwhelm Florence with tides of color that make all the sharp lines dim and faint and turn the solid city to a city of dreams, is a sight to stir the coldest nature, and make a sympathetic one drunk with ecstasy.”

Dickens, Henry James, Marcel Proust and countless others have also raved about the Florence and, each time we return, their words continue to resonate.

Out and about in Florence

For a start, the architecture is extraordinary, mostly from the 15th Century and featuring classical elements and beautiful domes, most notably on the Duomo of Santa Croce, which towers above the city. Exquisite piazzas and palazzos abound along with beautiful churches and ancient bridges. 

The museums and art galleries are amongst the best in the world. Michelangelo's "David" can be marvelled at in the Galleria dell’ Accademia and the Uffizi offers Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus” and Da Vinci's "Annunciation". But these are just the rock star hits of the Renaissance; there is so much else to see. 

Artisanal luxury products are produced here displaying extraordinary craftsmenship. Hats, perfume, leather goods, jewellery; you name it, it's here. Some of these crafts can be found on the Ponte Vecchio, one of four ancient bridges that straddle the river with shops huddling side by side above the water.

When it comes to cuisine, Enoteca Pinchiorri remains at the pinnacle of our restaurant list, because this legendary 3-star institution never fails to impress with its exquisite menus, service and brilliant cellar; but there are also many simpler dining experiences here, too, especially if you love steak (legendary bistecca  alla Fiorentino), pasta and truffles...

Within 15 minutes of the city you will find olive groves scattered among vineyards on rolling hills, with a gentle mist hugging the lowland at night. It's unbelievably beautiful.

The best luxury hotels in Florence

Luxury Explorer’s handpicked Florentine luxury hotel delights range from luxury city landmarks and 5 star urban retreats in historic abodes, to incredible country hideaways just outside the magical urban centre. Hotel Relais Santa Croce is at the historic heart of Florence dating from the 18th century with all the opulence of that era. Here there is one junior suite with a balcony overlooking the Duomo. It's our favourite. In contrast, a mere 15mins out of the city centre you will find yourself at Villa La Massa, a grand mansion in minature of the banks of the River Arno.

In the hills above Florence you will find Fiesole, where two of our favourite hotels offer  historical interest, stunning views over the city, with space and peace to relax and unwind, yet in 10-15 minutes you can be in the heart of the city.  Belmond Villa San Michele, with its fa├žade attributed to Michelangelo, is the grand dame of luxury hotels in Florence, whilst Il Salviatino offers a fusion of Renaissance and 21st century style.

Our most recent pick is The Place Firenze, previously known as JK Place Firenze, but reimagined by its owners, the Babini family, to become a home away from home in the heart of the city. Review cominng soon.

All our 5 star hotels are individually selected and personally reviewed, so we can guide you to the very best of the best of what Florence has to offer, with some new introductions coming soon.

Three more favourite quotes about Florence

“Everything about Florence seems to be colored with a mild violet, like diluted wine.” Henry James

“Among the four old bridges that span the river, the Ponte Vecchio, that bridge which is covered with the shops of jewelers and goldsmiths, is a most enchanting feature in the scene. The space of one house, in the center, being left open, the view beyond, is shown as in a frame; and that precious glimpse of sky, and water, and rich buildings, shining so quietly among the huddled roofs and gables on the bridge, is exquisite”.  Charles Dickens

Under the shadow of a stately Pile,
The dome of Florence, pensive and alone,
Nor giving heed to aught that passed the while,
I stood, and gazed upon a marble stone,
The laurelled Dante’s favourite seat. A throne.

William Wordsworth