J.K. Place Firenze

Piazza S M Novella, Florence, Italy Book from Eur420

Florence’s stand-out boutique hotel has trend-setting style, service and a very sought-after address on the Piazza Santa Maria Novella
Those carefully unexplained letters, like the discreetly signed hotel door, invite enquiry. What is this secretive "J K” place, and am I allowed in? The initials, it turns out, are those of the owner’s father; the place - we can confirm from several visits (the first of them during its 2003 launch, the latest in 2013) - is a small, smart and achingly stylish hotel for Florentine initiates.

And you most certainly are welcomed in. For all its designer-labelled rooms and its state-of-the-art technology, the atmosphere is intimate, the staff unfailingly kind. The soothing creams and matt metallics of the bedroom décor contrast with the warm hues of the sitting room and the glowing pink of the cocktail bar. The building itself is part historic palazzo and part modern townhouse, the 2 halves coming together around a broad lightwell, which drops to an airy, glass-covered dining room. It’s a successful synergy which manager Claudio Meli works tirelessly to maintain.

Highs

  • The young staff are friendly, on the ball and impeccably turned out; and Claudio is a real charmer
  • Lovely location on Piazza Santa Maria Novella, near restaurants, museums and the designer delights of Via Tornabuoni
  • The smart rooms have calm cream-grey décor, with good soundproofing, great bathroom fittings, and lots of gadgets
  • The suites are large; most have good views
  • There's a chic lounge-style dining area, plus a rooftop bar and flash Pink Room for cocktails

Lows

  • It’s expensive for the room size, but rates include welcome drinks, fruit, snacks and soft drinks, newspapers, WiFi - and there are frequent discounts, too
  • Some of the cheaper rooms are quite small, with limited views
  • During out 2013 visit, the hotel menu only covered a small selection of Italian dishes; but since then they have expanded the dishes on offer
  • The hotel is discreetly signed and can be hard to find without directions, but that's the point: everything is designed to make guests feel exclusive

Best time to go

The hotel is open continually, and Florence is a city with something happening at all times of the year. Perhaps the time to avoid is the height of summer (July and 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-November to mid-March) is quiet, with just a few ‘indoor tourists’ - art-lovers, fashion buyers, friends and parents of those studying here. Prices are lower during winter and midsummer.

Our top tips

Don't worry about bringing a guide book - Claudio will give you a copy of his "Essential Guide to Florence", with some great tips on eating, shopping and sightseeing.

Visit the church of Santa Maria Novella at 9am to beat the (relatively sparse) crowds.

Great for...

City Style
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 20
  • Restaurant and bar (open daily)
  • 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 20 rooms are spread over the upper floors, reached by a well-concealed elevator or a broad, winding stairwell. They vary in size and layout, but all share the same soothing, neutral décor: thick cream curtains, grey carpets, chrome lamps, glass-topped tables, soft abstracts on the walls. In case that makes it sound dull, I should add that the effect is very harmonious, carefully woven together by architect Michele Bönan, who also designed many of the beds and sofas.

They also share the same basic equipment: LED Satellite TV, WiFi, minibars with complimentary soft drinks and snacks; and, in the bathrooms, large shower heads, heated towel rails, shaving mirrors, fluffy towels, robes and slippers. It’s a cosseting experience from head to toe - just what you need after a hard day’s sightseeing or shopping.

We were lucky enough to stay in one of the top-of-the-pile Master Rooms, a magnificent space (50 sq.m) immediately above the entrance, with 3 tall windows and a small balcony over the piazza. At one end sat a four-poster bed, at the other a sofa, armchairs and coffee table, while a crystal chandelier overhead set off the modern table lamps.

The duplex Penthouse Suite is on the top (fourth) floor, with a spacious and panoramic bathroom and private terrace upstairs, and a darker (but more private) bedroom downstairs. It overlooks the rooftop terrace, so chatter may drift up, but the views over Florence’s rooftops to the Duomo are superb. Also split-level is the J. K. Panoramic Loft, which has a sitting room and shower room downstairs, and a double bedroom and main bathroom upstairs - perfect for a small family. Most of the other suites look onto the inner courtyard, but are equally spacious.

The Duplex Junior Suite is large enough for 3 people and overlooks the piazza, while Deluxe Rooms are smaller with views onto the inner courtyard. The Superior and Classic Rooms are smaller still, with limited views and/or access via the gallery-landing. Some are what you would call cosy, but all are fully equipped for a pampering shower and a good night’s sleep, which is what matters.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Radio
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast is served in the ground-floor dining room; or a selection can be brought to your room on a silver tray. Choose from fresh fruit, cereals, yoghurts, croissants, juices and a wide array of teas and coffees, plus hot dishes like eggs any style, pancakes and porridge.

The hotel’s restaurant, J. K. Lounge, is open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch. It’s a monochrome space decked out rather like a modern members’ club, with white armchairs and chrome angle-poise lamps. The menu of classic international dishes and seasonal Italian fare changes regularly; dishes might include Caprese salad, beef fillet, totelli pasta and vegetable tartare. Now, you can also sit outside at J.K. Terrace on the piazza, marvelling at the facade of Santa Maria Novella while you sip your cappuccino and gelato.

Afternoon tea with homemade cake is also on offer at J. K. Place, best enjoyed fireside. For cocktails head up to the bijou roof terrace or to the Pink Room with its low sofas and funky coloured lighting.

In the neighbourhood, we loved the legendary I Latini on via del Palchetti (shared tables, vast portions of pasta, cold meats, Tuscan soups and steaks); while Claudio - and many guests - recommend Trattoria Parione ("art on a plate") and Buca Mario on Piazza degli Ottavianni (homemade pasta, T-bone steak, filets of sea bass or salmon, great wines).

For a full list of recommended restaurants in Florence, see our city guide.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurant
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Room service
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Sip cocktails on the rooftop terrace with glimpses of the Duomo; or, for front-row views of Santa Maria Novella's geometrically marbled façade, order cappuccino and gelato on the hotel's piazza-front seating
  • Don't forget to pop into the church of Santa Maria - much quieter than the Duomo, but still impressive with 500-year-old stained glass, trompe-l'oeil frescoes and relaxing cloisters; and just behind it is the Officina Profumo-Farmaceutica, where heady perfumes and pot-pourris have been produced for over 400 years (originally by the Dominican friars)
  • Shoe-fetishists should head to the Museo Salvatore Ferragamo on via Tornabuoni, Florence's prime shopping street; exhibits include rhinestone stilettos tailormade for Marilyn Monroe, ballet pumps worn by Audrey Hepburn, and Judy Garland's vast rainbow platforms
  • Equally trend-setting is the Gucci museum on Piazza della Signoria: a fantastically restored, 3-storey palazzo dedicated to Florentine fashion, with a cool café too
  • First-timers to Florence should climb to the top of the Duomo for a bird’s eye view of the city (expect queues in season); pre-book tickets for the ultimate Renaissance picture collection in the Uffizi gallery; and amble over the Ponte Vecchio at sunset, admiring the gleaming silver of the river Arno and of the jewellery stalls
  • Culture vultures can choose from dozens more museums in the Palazzo Pitti, the Bargello, and any number of sculpture-filled piazzas
  • Urban ramblers should cross the river to explore the medieval streets of the Oltrarno (south bank), traditionally home to Florence's milliners, silk-weavers and leather-makers - many of whom are still in business

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Nightlife
  • Shopping / markets
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome at J. K. Place and under 12s are free in their parents' room. There is a supplement for over 12s in a standard extra bed. The hotel makes an effort to welcome babies and toddlers, but be aware that the rooms are quite smart, with designer furnishings and light-coloured fabrics.

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting can be arranged on request.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and strollers can be provided.

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

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

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