Oltrarno, Florence, Italy Book from

Reviewed by Rosanna de Lisle
Funky apartment-style B&Bs in central neighbourhoods, whose owners will put you on the inside track in Florence
While the travel press salivated over the 2008 opening of Florence’s sumptuous Four Seasons, several other new places worth writing home about opened without fanfare. One was Floroom, billed as a ‘premium B&B’ - which, in Florence, translates as slick and cosy (certainly not the kind of place you'd find a tea cosy). Essentially, it’s a funky apartment at the top of a residential building in Oltrarno, the district ‘beyond the Arno’, with 4 double bedrooms and an open-plan kitchen-living room up in the eaves. Its sister apartment, Floroom 2, opened a year later and whilst similar in conception, is considerably more modern and more central, being a short walk from the train station and the Duomo. Both are owned, designed and run by a friendly young Florentine couple, Giacomo Fantini and Francesca Pecci. He has a fashion label; her family is in tourism.

Combining contemporary design with the best of Florence’s traditional produce - delicious jams, biscotti and a Dr Vranjes candle burning on the reception desk - the B&Bs manage to be both homely and chic. Staying here feels more like borrowing a friend’s flat than being in a hotel (albeit a particularly stylish Italian friend!).


  • A choice of 2 great locations: one on the less-touristy bank of the Arno, but moments from the Ponte Vecchio; the other right in the bustling centre
  • Welcoming, design-conscious owners who hand out their own eating and shopping guide and are generous with insider tips
  • Good, fresh, light breakfast, with jars of cantucci, and a fresh cake left out for guests to pick at whenever they like
  • The feeling of having your own apartment, with a key pad entry system and a living room to relax in


  • Reception is only manned from 12-3pm and check-in/out is self service, though someone is always reachable by mobile
  • Being under the eaves, Floroom 1 is really very small. If all 4 rooms were occupied, 8 people could be fighting for 2 tables and banging their heads on the attic beams at breakfast
  • Both apartments are at the top of their building: there's no outside space and no lift
  • The cheaper rooms in Floroom 2 are, frankly, small
  • There may be some street noise at weekends in Floroom 2

Best time to go

Florence is busy at most times of the year, and horrendously so in the period from around Easter to the end of September, though it abates slightly in midsummer. Winter is often the best time for city visits as the galleries and streets are generally emptier and the hotel’s rooms warm and cosy (it can get bitterly cold in Tuscany). The Christmas/New Year period in Florence has a special magic.

Our top tips

The owners ask for a minimum stay of 2 nights, but may relent at quieter times of year. We'd say come for 2-3 nights, longer if you travel light and won’t be driven mad tripping over your bags.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
City Style
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&Bs
  • 4+4
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • No children under 12
  • Open all year
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Concierge Service


Rooms (and the doors to each building and apartment) are accessed by a code, not a key. The electronic lock was a bit unnerving until I realised the door handle also did the job.

The rooms are well organised but minimal. Walls and linen are white, curtains gauzy (though there are shutters too) and floors are either glossy dark timber boards or poured white resin. Huge photographs of Florence by the Alinari brothers are propped up against the walls, and one room has a giant clock. The lighting could be better - it didn’t really reach the middle of the bed where I was trying to read the paper. In the corner there’s a Philips flatscreen TV (with cable), and there’s WiFi throughout the building.

Floroom 1 has 4 very similar Guest Rooms – all more bed than room - 2 each side of the reception area with the communal living room upstairs. In each, a very comfortable, aluminium-framed queensize bed occupies most of the space. Otherwise, there is very little furniture: a pair of walnut bedside tables, a walnut bench and a walnut hanging rail with about 7 coat hangers. There is also a suitcase stand, but only one: people could easily be tripping over each other’s bags. Room 1 has the basin in the window; Room 2 has windows on 2 walls; Room 3 has a four-poster bed and a giant clock; Room 4 is the smallest.

Bathrooms are sectioned off from the bedroom by a wall of sandblasted glass: a solution to the tight space that makes more sense aesthetically than practically. Otherwise, the bathrooms work, with large walk-in showers, chic crosshead steel taps (by Matteo Thun for Zucchetti) and Muji bottles dispensing Dr Vranjes handwash and body lotion (stock up at the Dr Vranjes shop at Borgo La Croce 44).

Floroom 2 also has 4 bedrooms (but there’s more variation in size and price) plus a small shared living area and breakfast room. It's more modern in style than Floroom 1: all sleek lines and tonal grey furnishings. Many bits of furniture have a story - the living room chairs belonged to Giacomo's grandparents; lamps were found on holidays abroad - and the overall impression is seriously hip. It's located in a more mainstream area than Floroom 1: a 4th-floor apartment in a small triangle of local shops that’s a short walk from all the main sights. When we visited, a group of 8 girls had taken the whole apartment for the weekend, which seemed like a great minibreak idea.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Radio
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet


Breakfast is usually made by Erick, the Filippino manager, and is strikingly fresh and natural for Italy - a country that doesn’t really do breakfast. There are no flabby processed meats or biscuits in cellophane wrappers; instead there's chopped fresh fruit, orange juice, cereal, natural yoghurt, prosciutto, cheese and bread. And all of it comes from Tuscany, most notably the jams (apricot, prune and myrtle) by Fratelli Chiaverini & Co.

At Floroom 1, there are only 3 tables (each for 2) and a sofa, so agree a time for breakfast with Erick the night before if you don’t want to fall over other guests. Floroom 2 has a lovely kitchen with a long breakfast table for 8, so guests can eat together or come at different times if they prefer. Breakfast is the only meal offered, but a fresh cake is left out and guests are welcome to help themselves to the bottles of water, cartons of pear juice and yoghurts in the black Smeg fridge. There’s also a Nespresso machine, a range of tea bags and biscotti at your disposal all day.

There are plenty of good places to eat out within a few steps of the door. Right below Floroom 1, in Piazza della Passera, there’s Trattoria 4 Leoni, a well-regarded restaurant that majors in Tuscan specialities such as Bistecca all Fiorentina, peposo (stew), polpettone (large meatballs) and gran fritto dell' aia (fried rabbit, chicken, or, on Friday, fish). On the same piazza, Caffè degli Artigiani is a homely little place serving coffee, panini and salads all day and more substantial dishes (lasagne, fish stew) in the evening. Round the corner on via Santo Spirito, Santo Bevitore is an airy, stylish trattoria, good for a medium-paced lunch or a more expansive dinner. Its little brother, Il Santino, 2 doors down, is a diminutive wine bar - or gastronomia - with a charming barman who will cut you a plate of ham or cheese and pour a matching glass of wine whatever the time of day.

If you're staying at Floroom 2, there are loads of eateries on your doorstep: ask Erick for advice (he particularly recommends Osteria delle Belle Donne), or see our city guide.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Snacks


You could spend a year in Florence and still be discovering things on your last day. Here’s how to start…

  • Gawp at the tri-coloured marble façade of the duomo and its adjacent baptistery and bell-tower
  • Climb to the top of the dome for a bird’s eye view of the city
  • Spend at least half a day in the ultimate Renaissance picture collection, the Uffizi gallery (but you must book a ticket)... and the same amid the sculptures of the Bargello museum
  • The Palazzo Pitti, which houses another 6 museums, is almost next door to Floroom 1
  • Gape in awe at the Masaccio and Masolino frescoes in the Brancacci Chapel in the church of Santa Maria del Carmine
  • Browse the shops which helped furnished Floroom: Flair, on Piazza Scarlatti, and Le Stanze on Borgo Ognisanti; or explore the antiques and workshops between Piazza Santo Spirito and Palazzo Pitti
  • Stroll through the boutique-lined lanes and the bustling street markets in the Santa Croce district
  • Choose an ice cream from Florence's best gelateria, Vivoli (Via Isola della Stinche, 7r)
  • Get some fresh air in the Boboli gardens or the Forte di Belvedere or have a pizza on pretty Piazza Santo Spirito, a stone’s throw from the church of the same name
  • Cooking courses, walking tours and wine tastings are available by arrangement, in Florence and in Chianti

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cooking classes
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wine tasting


This B&B isn’t designed for children: most rooms are too small for extra beds (apart from the Deluxe in Floroom 2), plus walls are thin. It's certainly not suitable for under 12s, given the long walk up to the second floor; and the funky, chunky, cantilevered steps up to the breakfast room have no banister.

Kid Friendly:

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