“Historic mill on Florence's Arno river, transformed by a top Italian architect into 10 cool studios with fantastic garden and pool”
Riva Lofts has 10 suites of varying sizes. All have private entrances, accessed via the garden or the alley. Mod cons include DVD players and WiFi. All but one Standard (no. 3) and one Deluxe (no. 11) have a kitchenette, too.
We entered our 3-storey Loft Studio (No. 4) via an airy hallway with cream wingback chairs and huge Tuscan pots. Taking the wooden stairs to the first-floor lounge and kitchen, we were awed by walls of floor-to-ceiling windows with stunning 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 and a wall-mounted TV. This room was a temple to sleep - it was all I could do to stop myself from lying down on the polished concrete floors. 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 Loft Suite, equally breathtaking, comes with a hanging kingsize bed, 3 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 Deluxe Suite (no. 11), an airy white space divided into sleeping and sitting areas by a glass partition, with white leather sofas, a 3-metre-high gold mirror and a single lily corkscrewing out of a retro Ricard bottle.
Fans of contemporary interiors would be happy with any of these unique studios. We also loved Room 9 - a Superior Deluxe Studio - which is similarly spread over different floors with a vast luxurious bed and groovy wardrobe - an old costume trunk from the Florentine Opera. Slightly smaller are the Deluxe Studios, which include Room 7: a quirky space, with a crazy polyester fringe curtain all the way round the bed and artwork by Australian artist Simon Miller. One of the split-level Standard Studios has a compact terrace with just enough space to seat 2, which looked cute (and would suit smokers).
The buffet breakfast is included in the room price, and consists of freshly baked croissants, fruit, home-baked bread, 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, but the range is a little limited and some might find it rather bitty after a day or 2.
With 2+ days' notice, other meals are available from the hotel's kitchen for groups of 10 or more - a great option for a relaxed celebration.
Alice will happily recommend and book restaurants for you - and you can borrow the hotel's bikes to get there. Tuscan cuisine is highly regarded and there's no shortage of fabulous eateries serving anything from a light snack to a Chianti Reserva and heart-stopping wild boar stew. We recommend sticking to the left bank of the river to avoid the crowds and find the more authentic Tuscan restaurants. On our 2013 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 studios, apart from the Standard Studios, have a small kitchenette, with a sink, a hob, a fridge a coffee machine and a kettle (plus a microwave on request). It's not ideal for whipping up a 3-course meal, but perfectly adequate for making sandwiches or snacks.
Children are welcome. There are no specific facilities for kids, but the garden, pool and in-room kitchens are a bonus for families. However none of the stairs have banisters or railings, so we don't advise coming with toddlers.
The Loft Suite is best for families with space for 2 children, but all of the studios can accommodate at least 1 rollaway bed or baby cot. Extra beds incur a small charge, baby cots are free
Available on request
Available on request and free of charge.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking