Reopen in December 2010 after a meticulous, four year renovation, this is the hotel of the moment. Tourism people all over Florence were chattering about it during my last visit and for good reason.
Built in 1860, the opulent, Neo-Renaissance mansion comes with common areas done in eclectic, rotating themes like the Moorish Room and the eye-widening Hall of Mirrors decorated in Carrara Marble and Murano glass. The 46-room property is rich in history, with famous residents and guests including Empress Eugina (wife of Napoleon III), Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and Emperor Hirohito.
The rooms themselves, though less breathtaking, are by-the-numbers five-star quality with especially impressive marble bathrooms. Some rooms have terraces affording great city views and the junior suite comes with a private elevator.
Amenities include a rooftop terrace, pool, spa with small fitness room (included in the room rate), bistro, lavish breakfast, concierge service, a shuttle to/from the somewhat distant city center, and surprisingly comprehensive free wi-fi coverage throughout the property.