If every Renaissance palazzo had been as luxurious as the St. Regis Florence, it seems unlikely the Renaissance would ever have ended. Designed in 1432 by Filippo Brunelleschi, this riverside palace just northwest of Florence’s centro storico spent some time as the grande dame Grand Hotel Firenze before being reborn as a modern luxury hotel—with all the trappings of a Florentine noble’s palazzo, of course (think antique Murano chandeliers, and 16th-century frescoes and tapestries). Each of the 100 rooms has been adorned with rich velvets and brocades, the famously comfortable beds crowned with drapes like a king’s boudoir, and floor-to-ceiling windows open onto to Juliet balconies overlooking the Arno, some with views all the way to the picturesque Ponte Vecchio. In the restaurant and bar, latter-day royalty dine on Michelin-starred Tuscan cuisine and eye one another over bubbles and classic cocktails. A decadent spa awaits to soothe away the stresses of a day running around town, and the St. Regis’ signature butler service ensures that even the smallest of whims can be satisfied. This is Old World luxury as it should be.
Rooms: 100 rooms, 19 suites. From $450. Check-in: 3 p.m.; check-out: noon. Dining options:A destination in Florence, the Michelin-starred Winter Garden by Caino serves breakfast and dinner daily in its opulent, high-ceilinged dining room with gilded Murano chandeliers and stained-glass skylights. Cantinetta, the restaurant’s wine cellar, is housed downstairs in a medieval wine cave; some of the best wines in Italy can be paired with classic Tuscan dishes and flavors for lunch and dinner. The iconic St. Regis Bar, also in the hotel’s Winter Garden, serves coffee, snacks, and classic cocktails throughout the day and well into the evening, making it a popular spot for locals and guests alike to lounge and socialize. Spa and gym details: Not only does the hotel have a 24-hour gym with a full range of modern equipment, but it’s also home to the St. Regis’ signature Iridium Spa by Clarins, which offers a full range of pampering and restorative treatments that can be tailored to each guest’s needs.
Who's it best for: Lovers of history and Old World luxury, from business travelers and families to couples of all ages. Our favorite rooms:Each room has been decked out to be worthy of Florentine nobility, but those overlooking the river undoubtedly have the best views, especially the Florentine Junior Suites with Arno views, whose Juliet balconies and wall frescoes add an extra touch of opulence. Wine hour:Every evening from 7 to 8 p.m., the bar in the Winter Garden hosts the hotel’s signature Champagne Ritual; for around $20, guests can participate in the sabering of an excellent bottle of bubbly and enjoy it alongside light bites from the kitchen.
The 5-star St. Regis lies on the north bank of the river, a ten-minute walk from the city center. The opulent interiors are fitting for a grand Renaissance palace (or a St. Regis hotel), but that doesn’t mean that this place is stuffy, and cool jazzy sounds filter through the sun-filled library and the splendid Winter Garden. Rooms and suites are decked out with velvet and brocades and have gilded mirrors, coffered ceilings and (blissfully comfortable) baldacchino beds: make sure you get one facing the river with upstream views to the Ponte Vecchio.