“Funky apartment-style B&Bs in central neighbourhoods, whose owners will put you on the inside track in Florence”
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.
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.
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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.