Johlea & Johanna Residences

North-centre, Florence, Italy Book from Book from £39 per night

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.

Highs

  • 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

Lows

  • 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
Room:

Rooms

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

Eating

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
Activity:

Activities

  • 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

Kids

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

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

We had a wonderful time and enjoyed this fantastic location, the charming rooms, the artistic flair and most importantly the great advices and insights tremendously. A big thank you to all who contributed to this fantastic experience.

10/10,

The single room had a really comfortable double bed and was decorated charmingly. The house keeping services were very good with the rooms being made up everyday with fresh towels and supplies. The location is a highlight as most sights are within walking distance. Though the single room is small, the extra walk in storage space provided was ample. The bathroom is a good size. The residence is a top floor flat with lift access and a nice terrace with a view. The breakfast is plenty with many choices, with coffee, tea and cake available through the day. Except that the food is super market quality though served with nice crockery and cutlery. All in all, a charming, comfortable and convenient place to come back to at the end of a long day of sight seeing. I would come again.

8/10,

We had a wonderful stay. This is a charming guest house, the staff were very friendly and we were made to feel comfortable and very welcome. The room was very spacious and beautifully decorated with a cosy feel. The location is great, it is 15-20 minute walk from the train station and very easy to find. The area is a 15 minute walk away from the Duomo. I would love to return next time I visit Florence and would highly recommend to anyone visiting this wonderful city.

10/10,

You get what you pay for in Italy and this little boutique B&B was very good value for money. The location was a little bit further out than I expected but was close to some good restaurants and a laundromat. The breakfast buffet was average and the lady that "hung" around at breakfast was extremely gruff and rude and made you feel uncomfortable. The bathroom in our room was a great size for an Italian bathroom.

6/10,

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Rates for Johlea & Johanna Residences