A hotel with the words “gallery” and “art” in its name would be remiss not to include at least a nod to the art world in its decor (though more than a few establishments have been known to throw up a wall-sized painting by a well-known artist and declare themselves art hotels). As Florence’s pioneering design hotel, the Gallery Hotel Art doesn’t skimp. Virtually the entire ground floor, from the lobby through to the lounge and trendy Japanese-Italian fusion restaurant, is one giant gallery, its sleek white decor acting as the calming, understated counterpart to the contemporary art and photography not often found in this city.
Indeed, don’t underestimate the groundbreaking nature of this hotel. Design hotels may be a dime a dozen these days, but when the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno hotel collection launched with this modern getaway designed by Michele Bönan, its clean-lined furnishings and chrome, white, and natural wood hues were a challenge to a city outfitted in rich brocades and dark wood antiques. As such, the Gallery Hotel Art isn’t the flashiest stay, but it is the kind of place you can relax and unwind and feel like you aren’t living in the Renaissance days.
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Next to its sister hotel, the Continentale, and essentially across the street from the Ponte Vecchio and its jewelry shops, the Gallery Hotel Art sits in the heart of Florence’s historic center, adjacent to the Arno River. Every major sight and museum of the historic city center is within walking distance, and the hotel’s bend-over-backwards concierge service can offer recommendations and help with reservations. Attractions like the renowned Duomo—the Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore—and the Basilica di Santa Croce—the final resting place of the likes of Michelangelo and Galileo—are just a few minutes away on foot, as are the Galleria degli Uffizi, the Palazzo Pitti, the Palazzo Vecchio, and the cafés of the Piazza della Repubblica.
Need to Know
Rooms: 74 rooms, two suites, three penthouses. From $363. Check-in: 2 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:Sleek and trendy, the Fusion Bar & Restaurant offers a menu at least partially inspired by Asian flavors and themes, and its cosmopolitan philosophy is reflected in the attractive crowd of discerning locals, guests, and cognoscenti who frequent it. The terrace is open in warmer months, and live jazz can be heard some nights. Breakfast, light bites, and craft cocktails are served alongside contemporary photography exhibitions in the exclusive Library and the Cha Room. Spa and gym details: The hotel does not have a gym, but its neighboring sister hotel, the Continentale, is home to the White Iris Beauty Spa, a refined retreat with a full range of spa and beauty treatments available both in the spa and in guests’ rooms.
Who's it best for: Stylish couples and artsy types. Our favorite rooms:It’s almost a cliché to say it, but the penthouses at the Gallery Hotel Art can’t be beat; each has at least one private terrace, and all have postcard-perfect views of either the Arno River or the picturesque Florentine rooftops. For contemporary-art lovers:The hotel’s common areas—the lobby, library, Cha Room, and restaurant—are a working art gallery hosting exhibitions of important modern-day artists and photographers. With some planning, art aficionados could even time a visit to coincide with an exhibit’s opening.