Hotel Brunelleschi: luxurious, historic, and looking out over the Duomo in the very heart of Florence

‘They’re giving me a room at the Brunelleschi’

So wrote Dan Brown in his novel The Da Vinci Code. The novelist returned to the hotel twice in his new novel, Inferno—and now it is our handpicked four-star hotel in Florence, undoubtedly among the finest in this art capital of Europe.

The Hotel Brunelleschi is the hotel referred to in The Da Vinci Code in the following response: ‘We’d be living in luxury. They’re giving me a room at the Brunelleschi.’ It is not only luxurious but historic, right in the centre with one of the best locations in all Florence, a district where the artist Filippo Brunelleschi lived. It is both a prestigious hotel and a point of cultural reference for its guests, and for the city as a whole. Hidden away in the Piazza Santa Elisabetta, it is seconds away from the Duomo, and it has amazing views of some of Florence’s greatest architecture.

The Brunelleschi was created from an historic mediaeval church, San Michele in Palchetto, and a circular Byzantine tower, the Torre della Pagliazza, dating from between 541 and 544 AD, the most ancient in the centre of Florence and famous for being the oldest standing tower in the city. The mediaeval tower houses an ancient and rare Roman caldarium—similar to that of a Jacuzzi—and a now popular museum of ancient Italian artifacts.

The 95 guest rooms and suites, all of which have been recently renovated, are designed with elegance and charm, focusing on their excellent views over the Cathedral and city below, some overlooking the lively commercial street Via dei Calzolari, others the picturesque square Piazzetta del Giglio. They have all the comforts one needs, and are scented by Florence’s famous Dr Vranjes’ Antica Officina del Farmacista, a different scent for every room.

There are two restaurants serving excellent food. Santa Elisabetta, the main fine dining restaurant, has on the menu such treats as John Dory steamed fillet with snow peas sautès with ginger, sweet and sour red currant jam; or suckling pig carrè stuffed with mortadella and courgettes cream; or and, for puddings, passion fruit semi-freddo lavander sauce or Bellini dessert with Champagne and peaches. A newer sister restaurant, Osteria della Pagliazza, focuses on classic Tuscan specialities: The real protagonist of this characteristic osteria in Florence is the typical Tuscan cuisine, one of the most renowned in Italy, with tasteful and delicious recipes, from the pappa al pomodoro to the Florentine carabaccia (a Tuscan onion soup), from the peposo, a typical stew with potatoes, porchetta-style rabbit flavoured with pepper, rosemary, garlic and other seasonings, to fagioli al fiasco, panzanella, traditional cold cuts from the famous Florentine butcher’s shop Da Giacomo and a selection of Italian cheese, including mozzarella di bufala campana DOP from Campania.

The Tower Bar is where guests can enjoy a drink and sample the chef’s prize-winning gelato, and in summer you can lunch or dine al fresco at tables in the charming square outside the hotel. After so much fine food, the fitness centre is a welcome addition to facilities. Wifi access is available.

The hotel is in a pedestrian area 1km from Santa Maria Novella Train Station: it is a welcome relief that traffic has been banned from so much of the city centre. The hotel is surrounded by popular shops and cafés, and is five minutes’ walk from the Uffizi Gallery. Another special element to this hotel: it is dog-friendly, and even has a canine kit including water and food bowl, dog bed and dog biscuit.

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