The Best Hotels in Italy

Live out la dolce vita at one of these fabulous Italian hotels. Take in the legendary art and culture of Florence from the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze or enjoy a cooking lesson at the cooking school of Belmond Villa San Michele. In Venice enjoy over the top decadence at the ornate Gritti Palace or the unrivaled service at the Aman Canale Grande. In Rome, don’t miss the rooftop of Hotel Hassler and to feel like a local, book a room at the intimate G-Rough hotel.

50135 Settignano, Metropolitan City of Florence, Italy
The Belmond Villa San Michele knows something about history. Michelangelo designed its facade, Franciscan monks tended its gardens, and Brigitte Bardot stayed here. But, like any elegant host, it’s not brash about its pedigree. Manicured Italian gardens—designed by 15th-century friars—beckon you for sun-soaked strolls. The colonnaded loggia is a pleasant place for a sunset aperitivo or candlelit dinner, especially with a view of Florence and the Arno Valley. The hotel’s expansive rooms are already decked out in the most tasteful, almost understated interpretation of Renaissance luxury—terra-cotta tile floors, heavy wood furnishings, just a dash of red velvet, and plenty of cream-colored walls—and then the panoramic views, original frescoes, and modern Carrara marble bathrooms steal the show. There’s a real-deal cooking school, where the chef actually works with each person in hands-on preparations—no demonstrations-only here. Other perks include the hillside pool, the concierge service that can get you into the Uffizi outside of operating hours, and, from the Loggia Restaurant, a view of the ancient Roman road that once connected Florence to Fiesole.
Borgo Pinti, 99, Florence
It should come as no surprise that, in the heart of historic Florence, a 15-minute walk from the Duomo, presides a Renaissance palazzo—the home of Florentine nobility for centuries. Decorated with ornate frescoes, gilded chandeliers, and antique furnishings, the Four Seasons Hotel Firenze’s soaring halls and suites are fit for a king. The hotel is surrounded by 11 manicured acres of gardens—the Giardino della Gherardesca—their hidden pathways, serene pools, and ancient trees made for romantic promenades and hours curled up with a book. The dining rooms are among the most sought-after in Florence, and the elegant terraces buzz at all hours with a who’s who of Florentine clientele coming to pay their respects to this grande dame.

A bastion of true Renaissance luxury in a bustling city, the Four Seasons treats all guests like they’re the master of the house: no request too much, a gourmet meal offered at any hour, the most restorative and soothing spa treatments available at the snap of a finger.
Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 7, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
JK Place Firenze is a far cry from Florence’s obsession with all things Renaissance. Set amid the buzz of Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, this onetime private mansion is decked out in black, white, peach, gray, and chrome, with inflections of 1950s movie stars, 1970s pop art, and ornate 19th-century architecture. The reception feels like a library, and the breakfast room is a glassed-over former courtyard with a hefty antique wooden communal table. Free drinks, fresh fruit, and homemade treats (and bubbles at cocktail hour) can be found at all hours in the guests-only lounge area. Impress your well-heeled friends by inviting them to dine on the piazza terrace, presided over by the appropriately black-and-white Basilica di Santa Maria Novella, before moving downstairs to the clubby J.K. Pink Room. Slip upstairs to your individually designed room for a divine night’s sleep, then awake ready to take on one of the world’s most historic cities.
Borgo S. Jacopo, 14, 50125 Firenze FI, Italy
Somewhere between a luxury yacht and a royal residence, the Hotel Lungarno seems like the sort of place where Audrey Hepburn’s Princess Ann, of Roman Holiday, would have felt right at home. A 16th-century private residence on the southern banks of the Arno, next to the iconic Ponte Vecchio, the hotel was the first entry into the Ferragamo family’s Lungarno hotel collection, lovingly restored by renowned Florentine architect/designer Michele Bönan. With rich navy carpets, stained-wood furnishings, crisp white linens, and as many large, river-facing windows as he could get away with. It comes as no surprise, either, that the house restaurant is considered among the best in the city. Even if the food and the atmosphere weren’t top-notch (and they are), the sunset views of the city lights reflected in the river would be worth it.
Piazza Ognissanti, 1, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
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 99 rooms and suites has been adorned with rich velvets and brocades, the famously comfortable beds crowned with drapes like a king’s boudoir, and, in some rooms, floor-to-ceiling windows open onto 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.
Piazza della Trinità dei Monti, 6, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
Since its founding in 1893, the Hassler has been a pillar of luxury accommodation in Rome. This five-star hotel is perched theatrically atop Trinità dei Monti, the hill at the apex of the Spanish Steps, providing dazzling vistas over Rome’s rooftop terraces and church domes. More than a century after opening, the hotel remains privately owned. Generations dedicated to carefully cultivating a loyal clientele have made the Hassler the destination of choice for many royal and celebrity visitors to Rome. Accordingly, the staff is well-equipped to fulfill every imaginable whim and desire, regardless of how outlandish.

The formal service and decor hark back to the last days of the Grand Tour when European and American elite converged on Rome for its cultural—and couture—offerings, a tradition that still thrives in places like this. The Hassler oozes Old World charm, and its nearly 100 rooms are clad in marble, embellished with antiques, and accented with gilded furnishings, a reminder of the city’s late 19th-century splendor. The common areas are similarly lavish and offer palatial settings for meetings, cocktails, and lounging.

Just across the Piazza Trinità dei Monti, the Hassler’s second property, Il Palazzetto, offers accommodations with a lot less gilding but no less class.
Via Giulia, 131, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The D.O.M., which opened in late 2013, is a five-star boutique hotel in the heart of Rome’s historic center. Originally built as a 17th-century noble palace, the property was subsequently converted into a monastery, then Ministry of Justice offices. Its current design, which blends architectural elements from its previous uses, was entrusted to architect Antonio Girardi, who has seamlessly married Renaissance reverence and modern design.

Thanks to the previous ecclesiastical incarnation, rooms are intimate and many have low ceilings. Dark gray and brown hues mingle with velveteen, brick, and wood, creating a cavernous feel in the ground-floor common areas, which contrast with the bright and open rooftop terrace and its views over Rome’s Renaissance quarter and across the river to Trastevere. On the ground floor, a small reception area precedes the hotel bar and restaurant, as well as a small enclosed terrace.
Piazza di Pasquino, 69, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The newest addition to Rome’s growing number of boutique luxury accommodations opened in central Rome in March 2015 on a square just off the exuberantly Baroque Piazza Navona. The suites-only hotel is the work of hoteliers Emanuele Garosci and Gabriele Salini, who blend mirrored and distressed surfaces with modern design elements and Venetian artwork—a nod to G-Rough’s sister, PalazzinaG in Venice. The only things remotely “rough” about the place are the walls, which have been artfully stripped down to reveal textured strata of centuries-old paper and paint.

The G-Rough is composed of 10 suites spread over all five floors of a 16th-century palace. Half of the rooms in this former noble residence offer views of the pretty and intermittently noisy square, while the others face a quiet internal courtyard. Each floor is inspired by the work of a different Italian designer, including Giò Ponti and Ico Parisi, and rooms feature design pieces by contemporary artists.
Via Bocca di Leone, 23, 00187 Roma RM, Italy
The doorway of the Portrait Roma is one of a growing number of blink-and-you-miss-it boutique hotel entrances behind which contemporary luxuries await. Tucked behind an unassuming facade on a side street off the busy Via dei Condotti, the Portrait Roma is part of the Lungarno Collection, a small group of boutique hotels owned by the Ferragamo fashion house. Opened in 2006, the property prides itself on customized service, and each of the rooms comes with a Lifestyle Manager, or 24-hour concierge, who provides personalized holiday management throughout the stay based partly on the guest questionnaire completed before arrival.

All 14 rooms are suites, and each is classically decorated and designed to mirror the prestige of the Ferragamo brand. Rooms are accented with linen, leather, and cashmere, as well as artwork that evokes the beauty and spirit of Ferragamo. Weather permitting, the rooftop terrace hosts food and drink service and offers views of the historic center.
Via della Penna, 22, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
The Hotel Locarno occupies two adjacent buildings in the cosmopolitan district between the Tiber River and Piazza del Popolo. The original property, built and inaugurated in the 1920s, houses the majority of the standard and deluxe rooms, while the annex, a former palazzo owned by a Venetian family, houses the more luxurious suites. Both of the adjoined structures blend Old World charm and art nouveau elegance, and their rooms preserve turn-of-the-20th-century decor, including lavish drapery, oil paintings, embellished ceiling stuccoes, and period furniture.

The two buildings are joined by a wisteria-filled courtyard, where breakfast is served in fine weather. The rooftop bar offers aperitivo (the Italian version of happy hour) cocktail service and sweeping views over the city and across the river to St. Peter’s cupola. The bar is open to the public and attracts a well-heeled Roman and expat crowd.
Via di Monte d'Oro, 30, 00186 Roma RM, Italy
Opened in 2013 in a building that previously housed the University of Rome’s architecture department, JK Place is one of the newer additions to Rome’s growing number of high-end luxury boutique hotels. It is located near the intersection of Via Del Corso and Via dei Condotti, Rome’s most chaotic shopping nexus, but it is just far enough away from the action to maintain an air of seclusion, a rarity for the zone.

Behind the hotel’s unassuming doorway, classrooms and offices have been transformed into an effortlessly cool retreat. Like its siblings in Florence and Capri, the JK Place Rome is eclectically decorated and packed with artwork. Rooms feature canopied beds, sculptures, and sleek bathrooms decked out in Italian marble. The JK Café Bistro and bar attract well-heeled locals, giving the hotel a more down-to-earth vibe than its boutique neighbors, without sacrificing its unquestionable elegance.
Via Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, 3, 00185 Roma RM, Italy
Opened by Carlo Ritz in 1894, the St. Regis belongs to a particular category of five-star hotels in Rome in which Old World glamour is alive and well. While the current trend in town is toward boutique hotels and converted townhouses, the St. Regis is palatial and uncompromisingly opulent. In the century (plus) since opening its doors on the crest of the Quirinal hill, the hotel has remained a beacon of luxury, and indeed many of the hotels on the nearby Via Veneto, Rome’s luxury hotel row, take their cues from this long-established pioneer.

The entrance through the marble portico just off Piazza della Repubblica leads directly into a grand salon furnished with overstuffed chairs, chandeliers, and antiques. The grandeur continues in the rooms, where classic style and sophistication reign. Owing to its elite clientele, the hotel’s 23 suites come with 24-hour butler service, while the aficionado program is designed to provide exclusive access to sites and special experiences including road trips designed by the Ferrari racing team or helicopter rides to wine estates.
Calle Tiepolo Baiamonte, 1364, Palazzo Papadopoli, 30125 Sestiere San Polo, Venezia VE, Italy
Aman hotels recently opened a 25-suite resort along Venice‘s Grand Canal in the 16th-century Palazzo Papadopoli, one of the city’s most stunning waterfront palaces. What’s great about this destination is that, unlike many of the resorts in Aman’s portfolio, you can come here for dinner and drinks even if you’re not a guest. I recommend visiting just before dusk and pre-booking a table in the hotel’s adjacent garden. But it’s also nice to visit for lunch, (the hotel has one of the city’s only Thai-themed restaurant menus) and spend the afternoon sipping cold mojito’s on their cozy garden chairs next to the Grand Canal.
Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
Built in 1525 as the family home of Doge Andrea Gritti, this antique-stocked palazzo has rooms with mosaic floors, hand-painted furniture, and panoramic views of the Grand Canal. Murano glass chandeliers and sconces light up the hotel that Ernest Hemingway called “the best hotel in a city of great hotels.”

Hotel Gritti Palace, Campo Santa Maria del Giglio, Venice, 39/041-794611. From $519. This story appeared in the July/August 2011 issue.
San Marco, 1243, 30124 Venezia VE, Italy
An understated, private landing stage for gondolas and water taxis on a side canal of the lagoon marks the entrance to the lovely Baglioni Hotel Luna in San Marco. Steeped in history, the palazzo, with lagoon-facing windows and charming Juliet balconettes, dates to the 12th century and is said to have given refuge to the Crusade-era Knights Templar. Interiors are more in keeping with noble 18th-century fashions. There’s a sleek marble lobby, sparkling crystal chandeliers, antique furnishings, and a healthy showing of brocade fabrics. The standout room is the pristinely preserved Salone Marco Polo, filled with18th-century frescoes painted by pupils of influential Venetian painter and printmaker Giambattista Tiepolo.

Conveniently located just steps from bustling and culture-packed St. Mark’s Square, this hotel, with its award-winning restaurant, relaxed lounge, and rooms full of delightful period details, makes for an elegant home base in Venice.
Giudecca, 810, 30133 Venezia VE, Italy
Hilton Molino Stucky on Giudecca Island is a zippy five-minute boat ride (free for guests) away from bustling Piazza San Marco, and ideally located for those craving a tad more tranquility without missing out on any of those sweeping Venetian vistas. Once a working flourmill, this brick, industrial-era fortress has been reimagined as a luxury hotel with all of the modern bells and whistles. Take a break from museum hopping with a day spent surveying the city below from the city’s only rooftop pool (followed by quality time spent in the spa). Of course, with several dining options just steps from your room, you could happily spend most of your time right here.

If mixing business with pleasure, this hotel—with Executive Suites, a ballroom for events, several conference rooms, and a business center—makes for a superbly scenic day at the office.
Giudecca, 10, 30133 Venezia VE, Italy
Secreted away on Giudecca Island is the glamorous, lagoon-facing Belmond Hotel Cipriani, originally opened in 1958 by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of the infamous Harry’s Bar and the creator of that ubiquitous brunch cocktail, the Bellini. The peach-hued 15th-century palazzo is styled with Murano glass chandeliers and Fortuny and Rubelli fabrics and has a Michelin-starred chef in house and several knockout restaurants all set on manicured grounds. The hotel is kept safe from the prying eyes of paparazzi behind a castlelike wall. No wonder it’s the luxury hideout of choice for celebrities (Mick Jagger is a fan) and the jet set.

If guests do feel like venturing out, the hotel offers one-of-a-kind outings with expert local guides such as a nighttime photography stroll, a visit to area wineries and farms via boat, and a kayak paddle on the lagoon.
Via Roma, 2, 16034 Portofino GE, Italy
In a pastel villa that presides over pine-covered slopes and the deep blue waters of the Ligurian Sea, Belmond Hotel Splendido was a 16th-century monastery before it became a cliff-side luxury hotel at the turn of the 20th century. Today, it is one of Portofino’s most iconic resorts, with 70 sunlit rooms (think herringbone hardwood floors, marble baths, and wrought iron terraces) that have hosted the Duke of Windsor, Ava Gardner, and Catherine Deneuve. You’ll get the VIP treatment while sipping champagne on a sunset cruise aboard the hotel’s Chris-Craft Corsair 36, dining on seabream ceviche at La Terrazza, or indulging in a chamomile footbath at the spa. A shuttle can run you down to intimate sister property Splendido Mare, which overlooks the central Piazzetta and is a dressed-up version of a fishing village pied-à-terre, with 16 whitewashed rooms and its own buzzy restaurant.
Via Enrico Figari, 38, 16032 Camogli GE, Italy
Tucked away on the less-trafficked slopes of Mount Portofino, above the picturesque waterfront town of Camogli and scenic Riviera di Levante, Villa Rosmarino is that Italian friend’s vacation house you’ve been dreaming of. Owners Mario Pietraccetta and Fulvio Zendrini left Milanese corporate life to transform this dilapidated turn-of-the-century palazzo into a midcentury-style oasis with touches of Italian modernism, then moved in permanently, inviting others to experience their personal brand of la dolce vita. The library is outfitted with stylish armchairs, warm wood ceiling beams, and a collection of art and travel books that spans the walls, and the living room’s well-stocked honesty bar is the backdrop for friendly nightcaps. Rooms aren’t numbered, and the sprawling gardens are easy to get lost in. Mario and Fulvio are likely to chat guests up while lounging by the pool or sipping espresso on the balcony, offering their insider knowledge about the area and arranging one-of-a-kind excursions, from visits to secluded beach clubs to rides in their wooden motorboat.
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