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Helvetia & Bristol Hotel 4.5

Florence, Tuscany, Italy

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Review Summary

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Pros

  • Historic palazzo-style hotel with Old World, aristocratic air
  • Central location near luxury shops and historic attractions
  • Across the street from Palazzo Strozzi and quick walk to major sights
  • Stately, individually decorated rooms with antique furniture and marble bathrooms 
  • Breakfast served in beautiful glass-roofed Winter Garden
  • Art Nouveau restaurant serves seasonal Tuscan dishes
  • Cozy bar with elegant Continental accents, and alfresco dining available
  • Elegant meeting and event facilities
  • Limo service, valet parking, and bike rentals (extra fees)
  • Concierge, turndown, and 24-hour room service
  • Free Wi-Fi throughout

Cons

  • No wellness facilities (no spa, pool, or gym)
  • Rooms lack some usual high-end perks, like coffeemakers
  • Some details feel outdated

Bottom Line

The luxury Helvetia & Bristol Hotel is a late 19th-century, palazzo-style hotel with an Old World, aristocratic air. The hotels 52 rooms and 15 suites are individually decorated with antique furniture, damask wallpaper, and 17th-century paintings, and feature marble bathrooms and minibars, though electronics aren't top-of-the-line and there's no in-room coffee/tea service. The hotel serves breakfast in a stylish Winter Garden and also has an elegant restaurant and bar, but there are no wellness facilities. Concierge, turndown, and 24-hour room service are offered. A major draw here is the location, right across the street Palazzo Strozzi and close to luxury shops and historic attractions. The nearby Palazzo Vecchietti Suites and Studios is a more intimate upscale hotel, but it lacks the same historic ambiance. 

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Scene

A grand, aristocratic property piled high with ornamentation and antiques

Helvetia & Bristol Hotel, which dates back to the late 19th century, is an elegant, palazzo-style hotel with an Old World, aristocratic air. The exterior, with its ornamental lintels and cornice details, fits right in among the historic architecture of the neighborhood, and the hotel has played host to its share of famous guests, from royal families to playwrights and composers. The lobby has the residential look of a sophisticated living room, and decor includes antique wood furnishings, chandelier lighting, and 17th-century paintings in gilded frames. The restaurant and bar add Art Nouveau and baroque accents, while the dome-roofed Winter Garden is a stylish spot for breakfast. Guests occasionally find some details of the decor outdated, and the classic style isn't for everyone. Service here is exceptional, though, as is the location, making this ideal for tourists and travelers looking for luxury.

Location

Central location near luxury shops and historic attractions

This hotel is a half a block away from the famous renaissance palace, Palazzo Strozzi, and is just a three-minute walk from the lively Piazza della Repubblica. The neighborhood is known for its luxury shops -- the famous Via de Tornabuoni shopping street, lined with brands like Dior, Prada, and Tiffany & Co., is just a one-minute walk. The property is also central to Florence attractions -- guests can walk to sights like the Duomo (three-minute walk), the Uffizi Gallery (nine-minute walk), and the Galleria dell'Accademia (11-minute walk). Santa Maria Novella train station is a 10-minute walk, and Florence's airport is just 20 minutes away via public transit. 

Rooms

Embellished in Old World style with antique furniture and marble bathrooms 

As expected for a property dating to the 19th century, the individually decorated guest rooms and suites here offer opulent, Old World style. Antique wood furnishings, chandelier lighting, heavy drapes, and bright damask or striped wallpaper set the scene. Bathrooms are equally luxe with marble floors and walls, bidets, and combination showers and tubs. Guests occasionally complain that rooms feel dark or note some details that feel more outdated than antique.

Of the hotel's 67 guest rooms, 15 of them are suites, which offer more spacious accommodations with extras that might include sitting areas, hydromassage tubs, and more opulent decor. All rooms are air conditioned and include safes, flat-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, and minibars, but they lack coffee/tea service and the sort of updated electronics some travelers expect from a luxury property. Noise can come in from the bustling neighborhood, so light sleepers may want to avoid street-facing rooms. The hotel offers turndown service and 24-hour room service.

Features

Superb service and fine dining, but no wellness facilities 

Amenities at Helvetia & Bristol Hotel include superb service and gourmet dining, but the hotel lacks the wellness facilities travelers expect from high-end properties. A nice breakfast buffet is served in the elegant glass-roofed Winter Garden, and it is sometimes included in the room rate. Guests can dine at the Hostaria Bibendum, which serves seasonal Tuscan dishes for lunch or dinner, or get drinks at the Bar Bibendum. Both offer high-end options and elegant, Art Nouveau accents. Nice outdoor patio seating is also available, and room service is offered 24/7. 

Other common spaces include a lobby lounge with living-room style seating and a cozy library nook. Event rooms are available for meetings or wedding celebrations. There is no pool, gym, or spa on-site, though guests can be directed to nearby options. Staff are helpful, offering concierge and laundry service; limo service and babysitting can be arranged. Valet parking is available for an extra fee, and bike rentals are offered on-site. 

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Address

Via De' Pescioni 2, Florence 50123, Italy

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