“Five restored residenze offering a charming, affordable and welcoming sanctuary within walking distance of Florence's centre”
Friendly staff provide a warm welcome when you arrive, and are full of excellent advice. Tea, coffee, biscuits and guest computers are available all day; you can help yourself to drinks from the honesty fridge and, in Antica Johlea, relax on the roof terrace as the sun sets over the skyline. The bedrooms are clean and traditional, with polished antiques, artisanal Indian bedlinens and homely touches. It’s like staying in a friend’s elegant yet comfortable home – and at very friendly rates.
- Peaceful locations outside the touristy centre but within about 15 mins' walk of the sights, on or near via San Gallo, north of the Orto Botanico
- We loved the informal, comfortable atmosphere, and we appreciated the unusually friendly and knowledgeable staff
- In Antica Johlea, you get a lovely roof-top terrace with a view of the Duomo; in the 2 Antica Dimores, there are cosy communal rooms with books and honesty bars
- The option of breakfast in your own room, or from the breakfast room buffet
- Owners Giovanna Vitta and Lea Gulmanelli keep a close eye on all buildings, and choose their staff well
- Lack of 24-hour service may not suit everyone
- The cheaper rooms have very compact shower rooms
- Some noise is inevitable on the street-side rooms (especially Johanna I)
- Most residences are on the first or second floors - but there is an elevator
- The decor is cosy and traditional rather than eye-poppingly stylish
Best time to go
Our top tips
- 5 Guesthouses
- 24 rooms in 3 buildings
- Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
- All ages welcome.
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
Rooms in the 3 residences vary in comfort and size, but all are colourfully and characterfully furnished, while the superior rooms have two levels and can sleep a couple and 1-2 children. Expect terracotta floors, lofty rafters, Tuscan colours, gleaming antiques (some genuine, some repro), books, magazines and some flouncy touches.
All are equipped with air conditioning, free WiFi, TVs (basic ones in the cheaper residenza), safe deposit boxes, hairdryers and toiletries. Windows have mesh screens so if you don’t like air conditioning you can let in fresh air in summer without being mauled by mosquitoes. Bathrooms are spotless and, in the pricier residenze, verge on the luxurious, with wetrooms and white waffle towels.
You can choose your preferred residence when booking. We'd advise spending a bit more and going for the deluxe rooms in Johlea or Firenze: most are lofty, with 4-poster beds and cosy communal spaces. Antica Johlea has a roof terrace, with glorious views to accompany your breakfasts and sundowners. Romantics could ask for a room with a balcony overlooking the inner courtyard.
The rooms in Johanna I are pleasing but in a darker, old-fashioned sort of way. Some have balconies overlooking the street below (but remember, a “room with a view” in Italy can also mean a room with street noise!).
- Air conditioning
- Central heating
- Coffee tea making
- Safe box
Italians aren’t big on breakfast, and nor are these guesthouses. A breakfast buffet is spread out in the breakfast room with tea, plentiful coffee, yoghurt, granola and fresh pastries. There's the option of eating in your room, while in Antica Johlea you can take breakfast up to the roof terrace on warm mornings.
No other meals are served, but biscuits and cakes are supplied in the afternoons. Italians are big on lunch and dinner, and there are some great restaurants within walking distance of each building. We ate at Ristorante Mimmo, a 5-minute walk from the 3 guesthouses in the Via San Gallo - a stylish restaurant located in a small 17th-century theatre and with menus to suit all budgets.
- Coffee tea making
- Restaurants nearby
- 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 gardens or the Fortezzo da Basso (near Johanna II)
- Sit on the roof terrace (Antica Johlea) sipping a glass of chilled wine, watching the sun set over the Florence roofscape (a typically Italian mix of domes, pantiles and TV aerials)
- In summer, take a respite from the heat and noise of the city and take a bus up to the little town of Fiesole on a hillside overlooking Florence. This Roman settlement (with well-preserved theatre) is nestled amongst pines and olives, and is only 8km - yet another world - away
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Museums / galleries
- Shopping / markets