We took a taxi from Santa Maria Novello Station (12 euros) to the hotel as after travelling we really didn't want to waste time negotiating the bus/tram system. The reception staff were friendly and we were given a room in the 'garden' which is actually part of a little courtyard with several rooms leading off it, very handy for the breakfast room.
The room was clean and nicely decorated, typically Florentine and is part of the Best Western Chain. The hotel is quite small (38 rooms) which was nice as the staff got to know you. Only thing lacking was tea/coffee making facilities in the room but these can be requested FOC at reception. The shower was amazing and the bed was large but firm. Could have done with more pillows though. If you do book a garden room be sure to check the TV instructions as these are different to the main hotel rooms as we found out after 2 days! If your return flight is later in the day, leave your bags at the hotel and enjoy your final hours in Florence. Upon check in reception staff gave us a map and marked our hotel on it and highlighted the main sites of interest.
Breakfast was simple but ample, fresh fruit, yoghurt, coffee/tea, croissants and meat/cheese selection.
Its a 10 minute stroll along the River Arno to the centre of Florence where all the main attractions are within easy distance of each other. Sensible, comfortable shoes are a necessity as the pavements and roads are very uneven which all adds to the rustic charm of the city. If you plan to visit the Uffizi then its worth booking your ticket a day or 2 in advance if you can and get there early. We arrived on Tuesday and bought our tickets for 10am Thursday and pretty much walked straight in.
Along the river and between the Vecchio and the Uffizi there are lots of artists selling local paintings, be prepared to negotiate them down in price as they can be pricey. The Baldovino restaurant which is a couple of streets behind the hotel is nice and reasonably priced. Not the fastest but gives you plenty time to sample the Chianti. If you want to push the boat out a little then I strongly advise Trattoria Il Porcospino, a fantastic restaurant with briliant waiters and amazing food, well worth the money!
If you want to invest in a guide book we found the Lonely Planet version to be more detailed in its descriptions of the works in the Uffizi as the information supplied in the musuem itself is quite sparse and deals more with the artist than about the piece of art itself.
We packed most of the major sights in over 2 and a half days but would love to return to spend more time there and find the little places we didn't get the chance to see. If you are in need of a coffee after a museum trip, coffee in the Gucci Museum was BETTER priced than the little cafes around the square.
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- Also Known As:
- River Hotel Florence