Riva Lofts

Arno river, Florence, Italy Book from Book from £180 per night

Historic mill on Florence's Arno river, transformed by a top Italian architect into 10 cool lofts with a fantastic garden and pool
What does a revered architect do after creating flagship stores for Dolce & Gabbana? In Claudio Nardi's case, he transformed his own Florentine riverside studio into an avant-garde showpiece of 10 stunning lofts. No two are the same, but all are awash with bold contemporary design: polished concrete floors and muted colours, flea market furniture and Mies van der Rohe chairs, sleek fireplaces and tables designed by Nardi himself.

You might think these design credentials mean snooty staff. Not a bit. They're friendly and helpful, and will suggest car-free routes and secret spots to explore on your complimentary bicycle, or on foot if you prefer (it is 30 minutes' walk along the river to the Ponte Vecchio). Afterwards, kick off your shoes and slink across the manicured lawn to the groovy lounge, where an honesty bar sits among coffee tables strewn with architecture books and objets d'art. Or fix a fruit salad in your corian-topped kitchen (most lofts have their own) and swing in a hammock by the pool. Bliss.
Covid-19 update: some services and facilities may be changed as a result of Coronavirus measures.

Highs

  • A haven of laid-back and tranquil minimalism away from the bustle of the city centre
  • Lots of outside space: gorgeous gardens and a slimline pool - rare in Florence
  • The young staff are dynamic and full of enthusiasm for the building
  • Wonderful communal lounge with DVD/CD library, vast leather sofa and flickering fires in winter
  • Super-cool contemporary interiors in a historic building
  • Free bikes to borrow, including a couple of vintage models; there's a traffic-free cycle path into town

Lows

  • It's a 30-minute walk from the city centre, but the trams make getting around quicker: you're 100m from the nearest tram stop, and three stops from the central station
  • Some rooms are right next to the road, and expect some background traffic noise when sitting in the gardens and pool
  • Breakfast is not included in the rates and must be requested at least 24 hours in advance
  • It's a 15-minute walk or a short bike/taxi/tram ride to the nearest restaurant (great for walking off a large Tuscan meal!)
  • No 24-hour service - but the exceptional staff are on hand from 8am to 8pm

Best time to go

Florence is busiest during the summer months, and it's also very hot as it has its own microclimate. Whilst it is beautiful when the sun is shining, there are many tour groups and sightseeing can be a mission. We recommend visiting in February and November to really enjoy Florence without the crowds of tourists and conference delegates.

It's worth avoiding the main Fashion Show weeks and Pitti Fairs (January and June, dates vary) as flights and accommodation will be at a premium during these times.

Our top tips

Sightseeing is a must in this incredible city of art and culture, but make sure you book ahead for the Duomo, Uffizi Gallery and the Accademia, especially in high season.

Great for...

City Style
Family
  • Design Hotel
  • 10
  • Breakfast only (walk to restaurants)
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

There are 10 lofts of varying sizes. All have private entrances, accessed via the garden or the alley.

Our three-storey Suite Loft was stunning. Taking the wooden stairs to the first-floor lounge and kitchen, we were awed by walls of floor-to-ceiling windows with wonderful views over the Arno. The kitchen was small but artful - the grey walnut wood unit having been designed by Nardi himself. Another set of stairs lead to the funky bedroom, decorated with 70s bubble lamps. Across the hall, the cool all-white bathroom was gorgeous - large showerheads, fluffy towels and bathrobes, big sinks; even a remote-controlled skylight.

The other Suite Loft, equally breathtaking, comes with a hanging kingsize bed, three huge windows, and a natty kitchen which you can push out of the way (it concertinas into itself) - another of Nardi's creations.

On our second visit, we slept in the newest Superior Loft, an airy white space divided into sleeping and sitting areas by a glass partition, with white leather sofas, a three-metre-high gold mirror and a single lily corkscrewing out of a retro Ricard bottle.

Slightly smaller are the Deluxe Lofts, which include Room 7: a quirky space with a crazy polyester fringe curtain all the way around the bed, and artwork by Australian artist Simon Miller. One of the split-level Deluxe Lofts has a compact terrace with just enough space to seat two, which looked cute (and would suit smokers).

The Standard Lofts are the smallest of the bunch, but they're equally stylish and have more than enough space for two.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Hob or stove
  • Honesty bar
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Phone
  • Safe box
  • TV
  • WiFi

Eating

The buffet breakfast is not included in the room price (and needs to be ordered 24 hours in advance). Think various cooked options, freshly baked croissants, ham, cheese, savoury pie, home-baked bread, fruit, orange juice squeezed each morning, muesli, yummy yoghurts, best pure fruit jam and, of course, strong Italian coffee (as well as Twining teas). The presentation is lovely and the ingredients really fresh.

With two+ days' notice, other meals are available from the hotel's kitchen. Or the staff will happily recommend and book restaurants for you - and you can borrow the hotel's bikes to get there. We recommend sticking to the left bank of the river to avoid the crowds and find the more authentic Tuscan restaurants. On our latest visit, we enjoyed Il Santo Bevitore (buzzy atmosphere, and fantastic wild boar ragu with crispy cranberries), and the nearby Trattoria 4 Leoni (outdoor dining, classic Tuscan fare).

All of the lofts, apart from the Standards, have small kitchenettes, with a sink, a hob, a fridge, a coffee machine and a kettle (plus a microwave on request). They're not ideal for whipping up three-course meals, but are perfectly adequate for making sandwiches or snacks.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Chef on request
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Hob or stove
  • Kitchenette
  • Minibar/fridge
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Whether you prefer the high fashion of Ferragamo, Gucci and Prada (around Via Tornabuoni) or the artisan shops and funky boutiques of Borgo San Frediano and Via San Spirito, this über-glamorous city will happily relieve you of your euros
  • Florence has a number of good flea markets where you can buy more unusual gifts and souvenirs
  • The world-famous Boboli Gardens are a wonderful place to relax and escape the chaos of the city centre
  • If you love shoe-shopping but can't justify buying any more pairs, click your heels over to Via Tornabuoni for a drool around the shoe museum of Salvatore Ferragamo, the Ferrari of Italian footwear
  • Amazing statues, views of the Arno and jaw-dropping architectural wonders are around every corner, so leave time for a slow amble through the streets of Florence
  • Enjoy an hour or two of pampered bliss in SoulSpace - a great spa just 15 minutes from the Ponte Vecchio

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

Children are welcome. There are no specific facilities for kids, but the garden, pool and in-room kitchenettes are a bonus for families.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

One Superior and one Suite Loft can accommodate a family of four using the double sofabed; all except Standards can fit at least one rollaway bed or baby cot. Extra beds incur a small charge, baby cots are free.

Babysitting:

Available on request

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cot
  • Baby bathtub
  • High chairs

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

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming pool
  • Garden

Families Should Know:

Stairs don't have bannisters or railings, but most lofts are located on the ground floor.

Distances:

  • Shops: 5 minutes
Kid Friendly:

Location

Riva Lofts is on the banks of the River Arno, opposite Parco delle Cascine, 30 minutes' walk from the Ponte Vecchio. It's 100m from the nearest tram stop, and just three stops from the central station.

By Train
If you'd prefer to travel overland from the UK, you can reach Florence and Tuscany quite easily from London. Santa Maria Novella central station is a 30-minute walk from the hotel, or 15 minutes by tramway or taxi.

By Air
There are some flights to the small Florence Peretola airport (also known as Amerigo Vespucci). However, most people fly to Pisa Galileo. Rome and Milan airports are about three hours from Florence.

From the Airport
Riva Lofts is close to the airport, just by the A1 Highway entrance Firenze Nord, 6km away.

By Car
This is a good option if you have a car and want to visit Florence (whose centre is all but closed to non-resident drivers). The hotel has three spaces out front - available on a first-come-first-served basis. Alternatively, there is usually space in the blue-lined parking spaces, or you can book a space in a nearby private car park for an extra cost (EUR 20 per night). For car rental, see our car rental recommendations.

Full directions will be provided when you book through i-escape.

More on getting to Italy and getting around

Airports:

  • Florence-Peretola 6.0 km FLR
  • Pisa Galileo 80.0 km PSA

Other:

  • Beach 70.0 km
  • Shops 0.1 km
  • Restaurant 0.8 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 7 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

Beautiful decor; quirky and cool; very pretty garden; vintage bikes. 4 Leoni was fantastic - best meal of the trip; nearby local place that Riva recommended was also good; lovely to bike along the River Arno; beautiful views from Sesto rod top bar - although the drinks are expensive. The Santa Maria Novella, oldest apothecary in the world was enchanting; Boboli Gardens were gorgeous and the grotto is fairytale magical.

10/10,

Perfect stay. Stylish but unpretentious rooms. Loved the bikes to explore Florence and excellent restaurant recommendations from the front desk

10/10,

Fantastic atmosphere, cool design and feeling. Very friendly and helpful staff.
Little bit far from the sights, not exactly walking distance - but if you want to relax and rest away from the fuzz of tourism, then it's a perfect place.

10/10,

What a wonderful place. Location is just outside of the core which gives it a bit of an oasis like calm. Access to the centre of Florence is easy via the tram and you can be at the Duomo in 15 minutes. Our room was beautiful and the services were great. We would love to go back and stay longer next time.

10/10,

Wonderful location, near the center of town yet away from the crowds and noise. Close to metro stop which takes you right into town and nearby restaurants to walk to. Very helpful staff and wonderful breakfast included with the room. Would definitely stay here again.

9/10,

Peaceful and relaxed. Really appreciated being a little bit away from the tourist centre and the garden and pool. Staff were fantastic. Everything calm and organised. An oasis of calm in fact. We took up two suggestions from staff of places to eat and both were absolutely spot on for us. Room was super, and immaculate. We were quite happy with the breakfast offering.

10/10,

We loved the hotel, people, design, food and garden. It was nice, discreet, beautiful, with cozy decor. I like small hotels with home service, close to nature, such places have something elusive. I got all the information and recommendations I asked at the hotel. The service is excellent

10/10,

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