Check Into This Medieval Tower Turned Luxury Hotel in Florence, Italy
The 800-year-old landmark epitomizes stylish excellence and Italian hospitality.
One of Florence, Italy’s best and most beautiful hotels is all but hidden in a medieval tower built more than 800 years ago tucked into one of the city’s most exclusive shopping streets. Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni is as historic as it gets, yet the prestigious property is not lacking in luxury amenities, including one of the stunning city’s best-loved rooftop bars, which has a view of the iconic Ponte Vecchio among other landmarks.
It’s the perfect spot to enjoy one of Florence’s most famous inventions (around here anyway), the Negroni. As the story goes, in 1919 the aristocratic Count de Negroni asked a bartender at Florence’s Café Casoni to create the concoction. The café is long gone but the drink, like Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni, lives on in style.
This is understated luxury at its finest, where “original art harmoniously compliments contemporary craftsmanship and design-led interiors,” as the family-owned hotel puts it. “Here, guests enjoy a sense of timeless elegance set against a magnificent backdrop.” In addition to the original tower, the hotel also now occupies the stately 19th-century palazzo next door.
The hotel’s General Manager, Maria Rita Bellini, tells us they “wish to reinvent the concept of hospitality, and we have the inspiration to provide the warmth of home in every detail.” That’s in keeping with the historical record, as the tower-house built in the mid-12th century by the important Ruggerini family first became a hotel in the early 1900s, and “quickly turned into a privileged residence for aristocrats, writers and musicians.”
It first opened as Antica Torre di Via Tornabuoni a century later. “Thanks to attentive restoration to preserve all its original charm, the evocative ambiance of the palace on Via Tornabuoni has regained life and warmth,” Bellini says. “To this day, it still preserves all its characteristic architectural elements.” Then as now it serves as a a lavish home from home for well-heeled travelers who wish to enjoy a taste of Florentine living.
She adds, “In this ancient tower, we have created a world of harmony, privacy, and attentiveness to our guests’ needs. Luxury, peace, and beauty are all in traditional Italian style, and give the concept of comfort new aesthetics.” Just as important as the design is service, and “our per personnel… are dedicated to satisfying guests’ needs and desires with constant and discreet assistance,” Bellini notes.
The hotel has just 27 rooms and suites, each one unique and featuring original details like wood-beamed ceilings and stone archways. The historic interiors were updated and enhanced by renowned designer Angelica Frescobaldi, who aimed for “an elusive mix of old school glamour and contemporary chic.”
Each room features hand-painted walls with “vibrant notes of color and artisanal finishes,” plus richly hued textiles, antique rugs, and natural wood floors. The larger suites rooms in the front of the palazzo have postcard views over the Arno River and some have private terraces as well. Our favorite is the cozy library suite with its wall of built-in bookshelves.
The bathrooms are adorned in Italian marble and there are cashmere throws on the oversize beds, while public spaces display fresh flowers, leather-bound books and antique furniture. Coupled with the hotel’s intimate reception area, and a front desk that feels like your private concierge, the overall ethos is more akin to staying in a private apartment than a typical luxury hotel.
As noted, Antica Torre Tornabuoni has some of the most exceptional views in Florence. The ancient tower’s rooftop terraces, which are for guests only, have panoramic vistas across Florence and beyond, and the picture-perfect rooftop bar is the ideal place to relax and watch the sun set over the city below. Breakfast is also served in a room with a terrace overlooking the famous river.
The restaurant is situated on the rooftop of the medieval tower and is “nestled elegantly between the 13th-century stone battlements,” as the hotel notes. During the summer, the restaurant switches to being al fresco on the lower of the two rooftop terraces, and in the cooler months it is set within a glassed-in winter garden which also has amazing views of the city.
The menu features the best seasonal and regional ingredients from Florence and the surrounding Tuscan countryside, as well as fish sourced fresh from the gulf of Follonica. Highlights include farm-reared Chanina beef and handpicked saffron from a nearby farm. And of course the wine list is a greatest hits of Tuscany’s famous vintages.
Before or after dinner, be it a Negroni or a Spritz, an experience not to be missed is a cocktail on one of the rooftop terraces. The hotel’s in-house mixologists are always eager to come up with a bespoke concoction to suit a guest’s tastes. They use exclusive local ingredients such as rose liqueur from the famous Officina Farmaceutica Profumo di Santa Maria Novella, a Florentine landmark for those in the know, or Rosolio delle Monache Benedettine, another local favorite that is impossible to find elsewhere. Cin cin!