The Lowdown The gated entrance and winding wooded driveway hint at something special round the final bend, and Il Salviatino doesn’t disappoint. Perched on the slopes of the Fiesole hills just a few minutes from the centre of Florence, with a spectacular sweeping view of the city below, it took four years and 50 million euros to transform this 15th century villa into the grand luxury hotel it is today. Visitors are treated as house guests rather than customers so there’s no check-in desk and, in-keeping with the centuries-old Tuscan tradition of understated wealth, from the decor to the service it’s all tastefully discreet – no doubt just one of the reasons it’s popular with the likes of Kate Moss and Kate Hudson. There’s even your very own butler (aka service ambassador) to take care of all your diva demands. And A-list-worthy pampering treatments await at the hotel’s spa.
The Rooms Scattered throughout the hotel’s 45 unique rooms and suites are architectural reminders of the building’s history – a grand Italian marble fireplace, frescoes, wooden doors set in ancient stone frames, vaulted ceilings, original wooden beams and painted plasterwork. For the full-on superstar experience, it’s got to be the Ojetti suite, with glass floor set over a stained-glass skylight and private rooftop terrace featuring the obligatory hot tub. From the Tuscan-yellow plaster walls to the dark wood flooring and panelling, rooms are soothingly fuss-free, a single white orchid the only decorative touch needed. Even the TV screen is cunningly disguised as a mirror, so there’s nothing jarringly modern to break the atmospheric spell – apart, that is, from the gleaming Nespresso coffee machine (we are in Italy after all). Shuttered windows with muslin drapes open out on to postcard views of the Tuscan countryside, the dome of Florence’s famous cathedral visible in the distance, or the lovingly restored Italian rose garden, its original stone balustrade steps topped with giant white candles in old-fashioned lanterns. Pure romance.
Dining The emphasis is on authentic Tuscan cuisine with classic rustic dishes such as panzanella – a salad of bread, tomatoes, olive oil and basil – given a modern makeover. Love the food? Learn how to make it yourself with a cookery lesson from the chef. Should you fancy a change of scene, flexible half-board packages allow guests to eat at hand-picked trattorias in the city instead.
What to do If you’ve already ticked off Florence’s must-sees (Ponte Vecchio, the Duomo and Piazza della Signoria), take a stroll through the narrow alleyways of the Oltrarno artesan quarter where local craftsmen have worked for centuries making gold jewellery and leather goods, hand-marbeled paper and the painstakingly intricate stone mosaic unique to the area. Die-hard shoppers can get their fix from high-street fashion and designer stores or visit the Gucci museum and pay homage to the iconic label in the city where it all began.
The Details Deluxe rooms at Il Salviatino start from about £256 (+10% VAT) per room per night in low season. To book visit salviatino.com
Getting there Vueling has direct daily flights to Florence from London Heathrow from about £67 one way. To book visit vueling.com
Exclusive InStyle Offer
InStyle readers can enjoy an exclusive summer offer when they book to stay at Il Salviatino. During July and August 2013, there’s 30 per cent off the best available rates at the Green House suites, plus a complimentary bottle of champagne on arrival and a two-course lunch by the pool (excluding beverages), subject to availability. To book, call +39 055 9041111 or email email@example.com quoting INSTYLEIS.
By Susan Henderson