Johlea & Johanna Residences

North-centre, Florence, Italy Book from

Three friendly neighbourhood-guesthouses, restored in colourful style to offer great value, within walking distance of Florence’s sights
If you fancy living like a Florentine, these three residenze have it nailed. In a quiet neighbourhood, a 15-minute walk north of the Duomo, each 19th-century palazzo allows you to mingle with locals as you stroll into the city, and later return to a cosy and welcoming home. What they lack in convenience and slick modernity they easily make up for with warmth, wit and authenticity: original tiled floors and shuttered windows, vintage wardrobes and lofty ceilings, colourful bed-hangings and help-yourself cakes.

Rooms are spread over one floor (first, second or third, depending on the residenze) and are generous for the price - some have small balconies. Breakfast lounges, like the staff, are warm and welcoming with books, artwork and honesty bars adding to the relaxed, home-from-home atmosphere. Nothing beats coming back to a decent coffee and slice of cake, or glass of Vin Santo and biscotti, after a day pounding the city’s cobbled streets. Residenza Johanna is the largest, with 10 rooms; Firenze has the prettiest rooms; while Johlea has a knock-out roof terrace.


  • It feels like you’re living in the ‘real’ Florence as oppose to a touristy city, but you're within about 15 mins' walk of the sights
  • Rooms have an authentic, individual feel; like staying in the guest room at a friend’s house
  • The rooftop terrace at Johlea has glorious views of the city’s landmarks; equally stunning at night when they’re floodlit
  • Free (decent) coffee and tea, cakes and an honesty bar, plus colourful sitting areas
  • Friendly, welcoming staff who go out of their way to help


  • None of the 3 buildings are central, so it means a lot of walking
  • No-one on the premises after 7pm - in Johanna, there is a member of staff elsewhere in the building
  • Bathrooms are a little dated; some are very compact
  • Breakfasting areas and tables are small (or shared) so it’s hard to ignore, or avoid, fellow guests
  • Some noise is inevitable on the street-side rooms

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

If you're staying at Johlea, even if it’s chilly, wrap up warm and take your breakfast coffee onto the rooftop terrace. If you like meeting new people on holiday, Johanna will suit you fine.

The first-floor food hall of Mercato Centrale, about 15 minutes’ walk, is a good choice for a lively cheap-ish lunch or supper (open until 10pm).

Comfy walking shoes are essential.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • 5 Guesthouses
  • 24 rooms in 3 buildings
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • 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


Across the 3 residences, jolly and colourful rooms mix bold patterned bedcovers and colour-washed walls with traditional furniture. Many have four-poster beds with bright-striped hangings.

Johanna is a good-value choice and great for meeting people (the largest, with 10 rooms). Bedrooms, although large, are less swish and often have small shower rooms, though three have tiny balconies. Firenze is the pretty, romantic one - two rooms have balconies. Johlea is the most quirky, and with that stunning roof terrace.

Executive rooms offer more space - ours had a mezzanine level with sofa - and can take extra beds. Rear- or courtyard-facing rooms are the quietest, but even street-facing rooms aren’t noisy.

Old Florentine etchings, botanical prints and watercolours dot the walls. Thoughtful touches include quirky painted clocks and coffee machines (though not the latter in Johanna). Floors are polished-tile or parquet. Bathrooms (mainly shower-only) are traditional yet spotless if a squeeze.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Tv
  • WiFi


The breakfast buffets aren’t huge but they’re perfectly adequate, nicely laid out and include fresh fruit, yogurt, a small selection of meats and cheeses, plus croissants, pastries and hard-boiled eggs. Coffee and tea are plentiful. Guests eat around a shared table in Firenze, separate tables in the other residenze. In Johlea, there’s the option of taking your breakfast to the roof terrace.

No other meals are served but coffee, tea, biscuits and cakes are freely available throughout the day. There are honesty bars for beer, wine, spirits and soft drinks at reasonable prices.

For evening meals, staff have lots of suggestions for local restaurants. All are tried and tested, such as lively Da Tito in Via San Gallo or, slightly more refined Trattoria Tiberio in Via delle Ruote; both are around a 5-minute walk.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating: Firenze


  • Explore the heart of historic Florence on foot: the cathedral, the Uffizi gallery, the Bargello museum, the Arno riverside, the Ponte Vecchio ...
  • Indulge in some retail therapy - outstanding fashion shops and exquisite bars, not to mention ice cream parlours with hundreds of flavours!
  • Get some fresh air in the Boboli or Bardini gardens, across the river
  • In summer, take a respite from the heat and noise of the city and take a bus up to the little hillside town of Fiesole, overlooking Florence. Nestled amongst pines and olives, this Roman settlement with well-preserved theatre is only 8km away
  • At Johlea, you can sit on the roof terrace sipping a glass of chilled wine, watching the sun set over the Florence roofscape (a typically Italian mix of domes, pantiles and TV aerials)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets


Children are welcome. free baby cots are available. The Executive rooms have space for extra beds (additional cost).

Kid Friendly:

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