In the frame: a stylish room / Janos Grapow

Next step for this well-heeled dynasty

Few fashion names are more closely linked with their birthplace than Ferragamo and Florence. Made famous by cobbler to the stars Salvatore Ferragamo, the dynasty presides over a large empire that now extends well beyond leather goods to encompass vineyards and also a classy line in hotels. Its newest addition is Portrait Firenze, which opened last May and is a sibling to the successful Portrait Roma.

Portrait Firenze's USP is immediately obvious – its unrivalled riverside vantage point and proximity to the Ponte Vecchio. You will need to be as rich as a modern-day Medici, but the view from its sixth-floor Ponte Vecchio Suite is magical and it's easy to see why some of the hotel's first guests – members of the Qatari Royal Family – extended their stay.

The hotel's other attraction is more subtle. Portrait Firenze's spin on five-star luxury is to offer the inside track on the city and what its staff calls a "highly personalised stay". This is supposed to feel like your Florentine home-from-home, albeit a very stylish one. Before arrival you are sent a detailed questionnaire asking everything from your pillow preference to the drinks you would like stocked in your minibar, if that sort of thing matters to you.

Everything about Portrait Firenze whispers understated, elegant, good taste. There is a discreet entrance from the street and no formal reception desk; just a stylishly designed lounge done out in dark greys dotted with mid-century furniture and coffee-table books. Check-in is casually completed with one of the hotel's team of personable "lifestyle assistants" and everyone is willing to help with any query rather than deferring to a concierge.

Its team can arrange anything from a guide for the Uffizi, a spree on Via Tornabuoni or a tour of Chianti's vineyards. Spin aside, it is the smaller gestures that often leave a lasting impression. Late and lost in our car in a forest of Florentine one-way signs, in desperation we phoned reception and were guided patiently over the phone until we arrived outside the front door.

Bathroom with a view (Janos Grapow)


In pole position overlooking the Ponte Vecchio from the riverside. All of Florence's treasures are within easy walking distance; you are moments from the Uffizi Gallery, Santa Maria Della Fiore and its Duomo – so it's easy to pop back and forth to the hotel as you wish.

The hotel's ground-floor Caffe dell'Oro restaurant is open all day for relatively simple, Tuscan food, but you would be best advised to slip out into the side streets to a nearby trattoria. Guests also get free entry to the absorbing Salvatore Ferragamo Museum nearby.


Each of the 36 rooms has been decorated by architect, designer and Florence resident Michele Bonan – the go-to choice if you want your hotel splashed across the pages of glossy travel and interiors magazines. Of these, 24 have views of the River Arno, while another seven are family suites and can accommodate four with a comfortable sofa bed in the living room.

His inspiration was the birth of couture in Florence in the 1950s. Our room had pale grey wood panelling, dark wood floorboards, custom made, limed oak furniture mixed up with some mid-century vintage pieces, brass, gold and marble – all in a palette of browns, greys, creams and silvers. It's all very refined and luxurious.

Walls have stylishly framed black and white photos of the life and times of Salvatore, with pictures of him in his workshop and some of his A-list clients walking through Florence. If you really love the décor several pieces are on display in the lounge and available to buy.

Rooms have an abundance of technology if required, as well as a bedside iPad. There is also a cleverly designed kitchen hidden behind smart lacquer doors – you're not going to be rustling up a Tuscan feast alla Nonna but there is a tiny dishwasher, hob, microwave and a coffee machine. Bathrooms are sleek with chrome and wood panelling or wall-to-wall marble with what else, but Salvatore Ferragamo toiletries.

Travel essentials

Portrait Firenze, Lungarno degli Acciaiuoli 4, Florence, Tuscany, Italy (00 39 055 272 68000;

Rooms *****

Value ***

Service ****

Doubles from €500 per night, room only. Special offers available online.