Even before we had checked in to the Hotel Savoy in Florence, we realised that the staff were prepared to go that little bit further.
Even before we had checked in to the Hotel Savoy in Florence, we realised that the staff were prepared to go that little bit further. Having fallen foul of the bewildering Florentine one-way system, we found ourselves marooned in our hire car on the wrong side of the pedestrianised Piazza della Repubblica from the hotel. When I arrived on foot to ask directions, the doorman accompanied me back to the car, climbed in and guided us through the streets to the front door.
Maybe we should have expected this from one of Florence's top hotels. The imposing building that houses the Savoy was built in 1893 on the medieval remains of the church of San Tommaso following a redevelopment of the central Mercato Vecchio, later rechristened Piazza della Repubblica. But don't expect any cherubs or fleur-de-lys motifs inside. The hotel was taken over by Sir Rocco Forte in 2000 and following a make-over by his sister, Olga Polizzi, it's now a paean to contemporary good taste. The public rooms feature soft grey walls, white marble floors and Art Deco-style furniture, while pictures of shoes dot the hotel's walls - presumably a nod to the building's owners, the Ferragamo family.
From the hotel you have the best of Renaissance Florence on your doorstep. And when you are not exploring you can watch the world go by from one of the tables that spill out on to the edge of the square from the hotel's L'Incontro Bar and Restaurant.
Piazza della Repubblica 7, 50123 Florence, Italy (00 39 055 273 51; www.roccofortehotels.com) - an address that guarantees rooms with view. The hotel overlooks the large café-strewn Piazza della Repubblica, an olive's throw from the duomo and the designer shops of the via de'Tornabuoni.
Time to international airport: Florence's Amerigo Vespucci airport is five miles from the city centre. A taxi costs around €15 (£10.70), and a half-hourly shuttle bus runs from the airport to the city's Santa Maria Novella station for €4 (£2.85). Many more flights serve Pisa airport, about an hour away by train from central Florence.
There are 102 rooms, 14 of which are suites. All are a fusion of the traditional and the contemporary; blonde parquet floors, simple dark wood furniture, the odd antique, liberal use of natural linen, and bright splashes of zebra print, lime green, terracotta and brown. Books are dotted around each room, giving a more individual feel.
Freebies: Rocco Forte-branded toiletries and free internet access in the basement of the hotel. The bathrooms feature white marble and mosaics.
Keeping in touch: direct-dial telephones with voicemail, fax connection in every room and a TV.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Doubles start at €517 (£369) without breakfast.
I'm not paying that: Albergotto Hotel (00 39 055 239 6464; www.albergotto.com) at via de' Tornabuoni 13 has double rooms from €178 (£127) per night with breakfast.Reuse content