Every change as this grand old townhouse transformed into a top end boutique hotel had to be approved by the cultural authorities in Florence. As a result, like the city itself, the Santa Croce is a work of art. Family run, once owned by a treasurer to the Pope, this 18th-century residence impresses at every level. A generous stone staircase links rooms festooned with gilded and frescoed ceilings and splendid public rooms. Period furniture features in all, but the comfort levels are definitely contemporary, with wide beds and cosseting chaise longue and deep armchairs.
The music room retains its original function, with a grand piano providing an accompaniment to the delectable canapés served daily. It’s a stunning space, with a parquet floor and soaring ceilings, wall friezes, carpets from the old Orient and leather sofas perfect for a gentle recline as melodies play out. Stepping out, Santa Croce and every other Florentine attraction is moments away, and on return to this Relais & Chateaux property, relaxation is instant.
The restaurant – Guelfi e Ghibellini is named after the two warring factions that dominated Florentine politics a long time ago. All is calm however, under its artistic ceiling and alongside its huge marble fireplace. And the food is fabulously Florentine, with porchetta and risottos and seasonal ingredients, many sourced from the nearby markets. There’s also a three-star Michelin restaurant on the ground floor of the palazzo - the famous Enoteca Pinchiorri, where the dining is as exceptional as you’d expect.