Granduomo

Piazza del Duomo, Florence, Italy Book from Eur195

Reviewed by Liz Simpson
A 17th-century townhouse with apartments for 2-5, bang on the Piazza del Duomo
First-timers to Florence will delight in this fabulous location; rooms look out onto the Duomo’s tri-marble facade. You can’t quite believe your luck in being so close to this architectural gem, nor help feeling smug as you weave through the throngs of tourists and disappear through the discreet front door. Amazingly, the building sat empty for 50 years prior to it becoming a hotel, with its entrance completely bricked up. But an impressive 7-year restoration transformed it into an elegant set-up, with 6 mini apartments (more like serviced suites) for B&B. Cream and gold décor, white peonies and orchids, pristine bathrooms and heaps of space for your Euro, along with a convivial top-floor lounge that’s perfect for relaxing with a caffe or Chianti.

Managers Marinella and Gino (around most of the day), are effusive and warm - they take pleasure in showing off their city and will recommend restaurants, book tickets to museums, map out walking routes that take in all the main sights. And once you’re weary on your feet, Granduomo’s immaculate rooms offer a real respite.

Highs

  • The feeling of having a private address with key-pad entry in one of Florence’s best locations
  • Watching the Duomo’s facade change colour as the sun sets - from your bedroom window
  • Good for families: lots of space, extra beds and cots, and kitchenettes
  • All of the city's main sights within walking distance
  • Very personal service; city recommendations are carefully tailored to individual guests

Lows

  • Some may feel that rooms lack character
  • Breakfasts are small and simple, more of a snack
  • No restaurant - although you’re steps away from several
  • Reception is only manned until 8pm
  • Some noise from outside, although nowhere near as much as you'd expect

Best time to go

Florence is a city with something happening at all times of the year. Perhaps the time to avoid is midsummer (July, August) when it gets very hot and most Tuscan life takes to the hills. Late March, April, September and October are the busiest times. Winter (mid-Nov to mid-March) is quiet, with just a few ‘indoor tourists’.

Our top tips

If you're going to the Uffizi, ask reception to book you an advance ticket. That way, you avoid the queue and sail straight in. There's a small booking fee, but it is well worth it.

Great for...

City Style
Family
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 6
  • Breakfast only (+ kitchenette)
  • All ages welcome
  • 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
Room:

Rooms

The 6 mini apartments branch off from the central light-filled atrium, with a lift that glides between the 4 floors. There are 3 categories of apartment - Comfort, Superior and Deluxe - which are then subcategorised according to how many guests they can take (2-4).

Décor wise, things are very similar throughout - discreet shades of gold and cream - and first impressions are good: spacious, light, and elegant. Curtains are theatrically gathered gold brocade, high beds are dressed in crisp white Italian linens, parquet flooring gleams. All have a table and 2 chairs, most have sofas and 1 Deluxe Apartment has a balcony. We felt they could be pepped up - especially the rather dark Comfort Apartment - but larger apartments have a couple of cool details such as dressing tables with bright blue Perspex stools or sloped, beamed ceilings, which lifts them.

But the real reason to upgrade is for a view. We stayed in the Deluxe Apartment for 2, which had 3 floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the Duomo; quite astonishing on arrival. It seemed as if you could open the window and touch the marble facade, yet the double glazing is so good you could barely hear the hubbub outside. And as a result, we slept very well - although we could hear people walking about overhead, so light sleepers may like earplugs.

Bathrooms throughout are very nice - travertine marble, and generally spacious with a shower over the bathtub, or a walk-in shower. Toiletries await in little gold bottles, a cube of perfume subtly scents the room, and a hairdryer hangs in an embroidered bag.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Cd player
  • Central heating
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Hob stove
  • Internet access
  • Internet access
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Safe box
  • Toaster
  • Toiletries
  • Tv

Eating

Although there's no restaurant at Granduomo, your kitchenette is stocked with breakfast ingredients for you to rustle up a spread in-room. It's snack-y rather than an indulgent treat - a packet of croissants and bread, jam, cheese spread and crackers, juices - so it won't set you up for the day as a cooked hotel breakfast might, but it's fine. And you get a coffee maker and selection of teas, plus a few cookies, which were very welcome when we returned, footsore, from the Uffizi.

The kitchenette is perfectly adequate for rustling up a simple meal. You get an electric hob (no oven), kettle, microwave, a couple of saucepans, knives and basic crockery. Families with children will find it very useful. The Mercato Centrale is close, for grocery shopping.

But when you have the wealth of Florence's eateries on your doorstep, who would want to miss out? Marinella and Gino have a very good knowledge of the city's restaurants, and will carefully tailor their suggestions towards you; they pride themselves on personal service. They sent us to Ristorante Paoli, and it was excellent. A traditional trattoria with mock frescoes on the wall, a low cellar-like ceiling, and a lovely buzzy atmosphere. The food was top-notch; pesto gnocchi in a gorgonzola sauce (heavenly), pork chops with a cannellini bean sauce and lemon oil, and a delicious tiramisu.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee maker
  • Coffee tea making
  • Hob stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Microwave
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Toaster
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Admire the tri-coloured marble facade of the Duomo and its adjacent baptistery and bell-tower. If you want to climb to the top, get up early (you're perfectly placed!) as soon after opening, the queues go round the block. Brunelleschi's massive dome is still the largest brick and mortar dome in the world

  • Spend half a day in the ultimate Renaissance picture collection, the Uffizi, where you'll find works by Lippi, Botticelli and da Vinci. Book in advance via reception

  • The Bargello Museum has the finest sculpture collection in northern Italy, with a huge room devoted to Michelangelo

  • Piazza della Signoria is Florence's loveliest square; go and admire its statues and sculptures, which include Neptune and Michelangelo’s David

  • Amble over the Ponte Vecchio, admiring the jewellers’ shops, the river Arno and the street performers

  • One of the world's oldest pharmacists, Officina Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella, is close. Go and see its magnificent frescoes and chandeliers, then buy some of its exquisite potpourri

  • Stroll and people watch; stop for gelati and caffe in the lovely riverside cafes

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife

Kids

The larger Granduomo apartments, sleeping 4, are ideal for families: not only are you in the centre of Florence, walking distance from the key attractions, but they are spacious, and Marinella loves children and will spoil them rotten. It's a great city to visit with older children (8+) who you can trail round art galleries with the promise of ice cream to follow - as Florence is the birthplace of gelato, it would be wrong not to...

Note that children are classed as under 12 for these apartments. We've heard great reports from those travelling with young teenagers and extended families; the apartments are lacking in baby gear and child-related equipment, but are spacious if you can cope without them.

Our top family tip: Ask Marinella to book your tickets in advance to galleries and museums to avoid the queues.

Best for:

Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Some of the Deluxe and Superior Apartments can accommodate 4 in total and they have a bathtub and shower. The Superior Apartment for 4 has a loft space where children can sleep (there's a nifty pull-out bed) and the Deluxe Apartment for 4 has a separate twin room at the back, where it is quietest.

Babies are welcome in all Apartments, and a cot can easily be added, but note that there is no other baby equipment.

Baby equipment:

  • Cots

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Children's meals:

Kitchenettes are basic but have everything you could need: a hob, microwave, saucepans, cutlery and crockery. The Mercato Centrale is close by for stocking the cupboards. Ask Marinella and Gino to recommend child-friendly restaurants.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Satellite TV

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Take mini-mechanics to the Leonardo da Vinci Museum to play with the models of his mechanical masterpieces
  • Take a private guided tour of the Uffizi specifically for families. The 2-hour tours need to be booked in advance

Families Should Know:

The Superior Apartment for 4 has ungated stairs up to the attic space.

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Hospital: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
8/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
9/
Overall

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