Palazzo Alexander

Lucca, Tuscany, Italy Book from Book from £84 per night

An elegant looker for not much lucre in central Lucca
We’ve not met anyone who’s been to Lucca and been unimpressed. Come to think of it, I’ve not met many people who have been to Lucca at all - and that’s part of its appeal. Perfectly enclosed within massive medieval walls, this delightful north Tuscan town has bags of charm and culture - cobbled lanes, Renaissance churches, manageable museums, stylish shops - and relatively few tourists, especially considering how accessible it is.

The Palazzo Alexander is one of a handful of guesthouses within the city walls. Dating from the 12th century this 4-storey ex-boarding-school has been converted into a pretty little hotel with just 9 rooms, all ornately (some might say over-ornately) decorated with embossed gold fabrics, polished wooden floors and Regency-type armchairs. If you’re lucky you might have an angel smiling down at you from the frescoed ceiling, or a balcony overlooking the Lucchese roofscape. It's clean, cared-for and efficiently run by English-speaking owner-manager Mario Maraviglia.

Highs

  • Mario provides excellent, thoughtful service worthy of 4 or 5*
  • You get Jacuzzis, balconies and sofas in some of the suites
  • The medieval town centre is right on your doorstep, plus grand villas and formal gardens just outside town
  • The Puccini museum and summer music festival help make Lucca that bit more special

Lows

  • You may find the faux-Renaissance décor rather dated or overblown
  • Some bedrooms are a little cramped
  • It’s a small town hotel so don’t expect a pool, restaurant or garden

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are best for general sightseeing, summer for musical and cultural events (though it can be very hot and humid). High season prices run from April to October. Winter is actually a good time for Lucca - it is quiet but most of the main sites are open.

Our top tips

Pisa, with its world-famous leaning tower and adjacent cathedral and museum, is only half an hour away.

Great for...

City Style
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 9
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • Not suitable for babies or very young children
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 9 rooms are named after operas by Verdi and Puccini (who was born along the road from here). All are ornately decorated with chintzy fabrics and antique-style furniture: carved mirror-frames, wardrobes with faded-effect paint, dressing tables with coloured inlay, and curvy faux-Regency chairs. Wrought-iron bedside lamps cast a cosy glow over the gold-painted bedsteads.

Superior Rooms are smaller than the Junior Suites but still well-equipped. The latter boast a Jacuzzi-tub in the bathroom. La Bohème has an angelically-frescoed ceiling, a separate sitting area and a crow’s nest position. Tosca is perhaps the grandest and most spacious, with a small terrace to boot. Madama Butterfly has sofa, armchairs, a marble vanity table and a tiny balcony.

There’s a Single Room, too, and a Family Room can be created by connecting 2 Superior Rooms.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hairdryer
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • Satellite tv
  • WiFi

Eating

Breakfast is a leisurely affair, served until 11 am in the little jewel box of a dining room. Tuscan hams, fresh fruit, juices and yoghurts flesh out the standard Italian prima colazione of coffee/tea and patisseries. Or you can be extra decadent and have a tray brought to your room.

There are some excellent restaurants in central Lucca. Our favourite is the Bucca di San Antonio, a few minutes’ walk from the hotel. If you can be bothered to drive, there’s a Michelin-starred place just outside town.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Borrow a hotel bicycle and cycle around the 4km of well-kept medieval walls for great views over its roofscape - brilliant
  • For even better views, climb the Torre Guinigi, a 44-metre-high tower with a holm oak growing at the top
  • Puccini fans should visit the house where the composer was born and brought up, now converted into a small museum with scores, photos and an original Steinway. Or head to Torre del Lago in late July / early August for the Puccini Festival.
  • Explore some of Lucca’s wonderful churches, including the cathedral of St Martin and the tiered-marble San Frediano
  • There are dozens of superb palace-villas around Lucca, with landscaped gardens and lavish interiors; those of Oliva, Grabau and Reale, outside San Pancrazio, make a lovely day trip
  • Tuscany is an incredibly diverse and fascinating area of Italy. For a more comprehensive guide, see our destination guide

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children may not find Palazzo Alexander the ideal destination - this is a small town hotel without pool or gardens. However, children are welcome - under 3's are free in their parents' room (cots are available); 3-15 year olds pay a discount rate and can either sleep in extra beds (a pull-out couch - not suitable for larger children) or you can book the interconnecting family room (1 double and 1 double/twin).

Family friendly accommodation:

Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

Babysitting:

Babysitting available by arrangement

Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 4 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Problems with ancient hot water system but otherwise a lovely place to stay.

8/10,

The hotel is ideal if you want to spend a couple of days in Lucca. Its close to everything, and there is car parking - its worth phoning the hotel so that they can register the car to enter the historic centre, and make sure you come through the right gate. The hotel itself is a bit dated, and our room was rather noisy, but everything works. A good breakfast, and the staff are very helpful, and Mario a genial and avuncular host. There are some good local restaurants, and Lucca is an absolute gem. Overall, Palazzo Alexander represents decent value, even if a bit low on the chic scale.

8/10,

A lovely place to stay, central location but also quiet. Mario was really friendly and helpful.

10/10,

A lovely hotel tucked inside the walls of Lucca. Sumptuous breakfast, traditional Italian style hotel and wonderful service from owner Mario and his colleagues. A peaceful and elegant retreat in this gem of a North Tuscan city.

10/10,

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Rates for Palazzo Alexander