Stay Here: The Four Seasons Hotel, FlorenceBy Claudine Levy
The joy of Italy is discovering beauty at every turn. It’s a country designed to fill you up on two staples: food, and feeling.
And there’s no better place to fill yourself with food and feeling than Florence. Stumble upon the Rape of the Sabine Woman in Piazza della Signoria and dazedly stare at the endlessly undulating marble flesh. Eat a prosciutto panino. Go to the Academia to watch Michelangelo’s David – look at his furrowed brow and his mournful gaze. Look and look and look. Eat pistachio gelato. Sneak into the Duomo, crane your neck at the frescoes, feel your chest tighten and your eyes smart. Hold hands with someone. Amble through side-streets and gawp at how the light hits the buildings in a way which makes them radiate a heavenly glow. Eat pumpkin ravioli. And scuttle into cathedrals which somehow compel you to believe in the divine.
Expect: Do not leave Florence without visiting, and preferably staying in, The Four Seasons Hotel. It is as awe-inspiring as any marvel Italy has to offer, and will without doubt astound you. This is not hyperbole. This is not a recommendation. This is not negotiable. You must go.
The Hotel: This magical palace is home to lavishness which teeters on the sunny side of obscene. It simply doesn’t feel real. Imagine walking into a stately home and marvelling at the marble floors, the grand staircases, the ancient art, and the frescoed ceilings. Imagine a spectacle of splendour beyond anything you could ever conceive. Now imagine slipping your key-card into the door of your own suite after a long day gorging on food and feeling, lying in your king-sized aristocratic bed, and staring up at a 16th century ceiling before falling asleep inside the beating heart of history itself.
Accommodation: With the oil paintings, antiques and sumptuous décor, there is a danger of everything feeling a little bit uncouth and faintly ridiculous. But the restoration is masterfully tasteful while feeling decadently luxurious. The bedrooms are decorated in classic Renaissance style, and guests can choose between standard, premier, deluxe and superior rooms, or go all out in a stunning suite. Each is lavishly furnished in silk and velvet, the bathrooms clad in marble and complete with amenities by Florentine master parfumier Lorenzo Villoresi in the signature Four Seasons emerald green.
The hotel comprises a 15th century palazzo and a 16th century convent, accompanied by an 11 acre park. It’s the largest private garden in Florence and doubles as an outdoor sculpture gallery, with artists regularly commissioned to create pieces for the ever-changing landscape.
Spa: As if The Four Seasons didn’t have enough going for it, it’s spa is a worthy destination in and of itself. Nestled next to the emerald green outdoor swimming pool and jacuzzi, the spa offers a serene enclave far from the madding crowd. We recommend opting for an essential oils scented massage after taking advantage of the steam room, sauna, and swanky showers.
Food: The Four Seasons’ Michelin starred restaurant, Il Palagio, – with its vaulted ceilings and outdoor terrace – is the kind of place where it’s socially acceptable to wear mink coats while smoking Vogues from slender cigarette holders. With this in mind, we fully embraced the setting, minus the mink, and started the evening in the hotel’s beautiful gardens – red lipsticked lips wrapped dutifully around our cancer sticks – puffing away amidst the manicured, virtually shellaced, lawns…
Read Eat Here: Il Palagio in full.