You know the daydream where you’re in a colorful vintage car zipping along cypress-lined Tuscan roads that line the Arno? Well, here it is. You turn off onto a gravel path ending at a sunny complex of restored 19th-century Italian factories that look more like farmhouses, with their terra-cotta tile roofs, faintly pink stonework, and painted shutters. Just as you turn off the car, Alice Nardi, daughter of celebrated Italian architect and designer Claudio Nardi, steps out of the house, arms wide, eager to welcome you to her famous father’s atelier. The studio, just 10 minutes outside Florence, now doubles as a relaxed guesthouse and collection of lofts. Most of the sprawling lofts have floor-to-ceiling picture windows shedding light over mismatched decor—Mies van der Rohe tables and sofas, Louis XIV chairs, chrome bubble lamps, gray stone kitchens—that still manages to be worthy of an Architectural Digest shoot. Ogling the view of the river, you notice hammocks swaying between the trees that flank the white sandstone swimming pool in the garden. A typical evening might begin at the main house, where guests can chat over a bottle of chianti in the unpretentiously glamorous living room. Later, after dinner at one of the locals’ favorite spots in town, guests might enjoy the nighttime air with a romantic bike ride along the river.
Rooms: Nine suites. From $255. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:The hotel doesn’t have a full restaurant, but an extensive breakfast spread of homemade pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, and more is included in all rates and served each morning in the living room or the garden. Coffee and tea are available at any time, nonalcoholic minibars are free, and the living room has an honesty bar for when the aperitif mood strikes. All but one of the studios has a kitchenette, should you choose to cook for yourself. Spa and gym details: The hotel has neither gym nor spa, but in-room spa treatments can be arranged upon request, vintage bicycles are available to borrow, and the garden is home to a white sandstone swimming pool, although it’s a little small for laps.
Who's it best for: Fashion designers, Florence veterans, low-key families, and anyone seeking a laid-back atmosphere and stylishly low-key design out of the fray. Our favorite rooms:The Loft Studios (rooms 4 and 8) might as well be private apartments, with multiple floors, floor-to-ceiling picture windows overlooking the Arno, full design kitchens, private entrances, and, off one, a private terrace. Local insight:Hang out in the living room, surrounded by books and DVDs to borrow, and you’ll likely end up befriending Alice Nardi, the proprietor and daughter of the renowned architect who designed the place. Take her advice on where to dine, what galleries to visit, and pretty much anything else.