Hotel Check: Relais Santa Croce, a Baglioni Hotel, Florence, Italy
PROPERTY HIGHLIGHTS Once a private palazzo, this converted property features elegantly appointed public spaces with gorgeous ceiling frescoes and rotating artwork. Guest rooms are both spacious and comfortable with contemporary interiors. Don’t miss the “pici” (traditional Tuscan pasta) in the gourmet restaurant.
PRICE Internet rates for a traditional room on the random dates we checked start at $434
CONTACT Relais Santa Croce, a Baglioni Hotel, Via Ghibellina 87,Florence, Italy 50122, Phone +39-055-2342230, https://www.baglionihotels.com/category/relais-santa-croce-2/
WHERE IS IT The hotel is a five-minute walk from the Santa Croce Basilica and less than a half-hour’s drive from the airport. Alternatively, those arriving by train need take only a five-minute car ride. The hotel is also within walking distance of the Arno River, Uffizi Gallery, and several other major sights.
WHAT’S IT LIKE? The entryway features a small lounge while the main area of the hotel is up a cloister-like staircase where sit-down reception, accompanied by a glass of prosecco, and a guided tour of the property await. The main lounge boasts soaring frescoed ceilings, local artwork that rotates quarterly, and surprisingly contemporary furnishings that fit well even amid the building’s history. All-white hallways lead to the two dozen rooms that overlook the side streets of Florence. As part of Baglioni’s focus on its Italian roots, the hotel will soon launch the Assoluto programwhere guests are able to book unique activities around Florence like a private perfume-making class or hot-air balloon ride high above the Tuscan countryside.
ROOM FACILITIES Many rooms boast rooftop views with glimpses of the cathedral, and all come with hardwood floors, duvet-topped beds, and small sitting areas with welcome platters of fresh fruit. Cupboards hide the safe, minibar, and coffeemaker while small desks provide alarm clocks and power outlets. Large, walk-in closets have full-length mirrors, and marble bathrooms add Turkish steam showers, bidets, and vanities stocked with Ortigia toiletry products from Sicily. Magnetic keys control, the strong air conditioning, and windows open to views of the cobblestone streets surrounding the hotel. The two suites on the main level can connect into 260 square meter Santa Croce Royal Suite featuring enormous living areas, whirlpool tubs, and antique furnishings. They are popular with the celebrity set (past guests are rumored to have been Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie).
RESTAURANTS AND BARS The main restaurant, Guelfi & Ghibellini, is divided into several rooms dressed in majestic artwork. Buffet breakfast is included in the rates and includes regional cheeses, delectable pastries, and hot dishes like scrambled eggs, sausage, and sautéed vegetables. Lunch and dinner is served from a gourmet menu designed by a chef that is surely bound for a Michelin star someday. Fresh seafood and pasta dominate the menu, and Tuscan specialties are tasty and not overpriced. The bar and lounge features jazz music and an all-day cocktail and wine menu.
LEISURE FACILITIES There is no fitness center or spa although one suite features workout equipment, and guests always get their exercise strolling around town. Despite having an elevator, the stone staircases from the ground to the top floor is another option for onsite cardio.
BUSINESS AND MEETING FACILITIES Free wireless Internet works in the guest rooms and public areas, and the staff will happily print boarding passes at reception. The hotel is available for complete buyouts, which is popular with families and small corporate events. During low season, rates for the entire hotel can be as low as $14,000, which for two dozen suites and an entire hotel staff at your disposal is a steal.
VERDICT As a member of Relais & Chateaux, this luxury hotel ticks all the right boxes from a respected dining room to impressive service designed for international travelers. Name recognition is yet another sign of the attention to detail that has become a hallmark of Baglioni Hotels, the Italian hospitality company in Italy, France, and London that is quickly expanding to other destinations including the Maldives.
(Pictures by Relais Santa Croce, a Baglioni Hotel, Florence, Italy)
By Ramsey Qubein
Ramsey is a regular contributor to Business Traveler across all print, digital, web and social channels. He travels more than 400,000 miles a year criss-crossing the globe to report on hotels, airlines, loyalty programs, and all things travel.