Where to Stay in Florence - My Picks of Accommodation and Area
Updated: Jun 22, 2020
Disclaimer: This post was written during Covid-19 time when travel was not permitted and was therefore written on the basis of previous stays prior to the establishment of this blog. As such, photos especially, but also descriptions are limited. I cannot wait to get back to Florence and extensively cover accommodation in my favourite European city in detail once more.
Every piazza is adorned with a myriad of accommodation option and now that apartments are readily available to rent in cities like Florence as well, the list of accommodations just keeps growing.
Picking the right area to stay in Florence is important because it is such a pedestrian city. That said, if you will be in need of transport - for example, taxis - you should pick accommodations with easy road access accordingly to make your stay that much easier and accordingly, a lot more pleasant. This would be my main tip for Florence, stay in an area that affords you the most comfort and then pick an accommodation most suitable to your budget around that - the location really matters here, especially if it being a pedestrian-inclined city poses any challenges for yourself or anyone in your travel party.
Another reason to consider location is if you are planning on using Florence as your home base from which to travel to many other Italian (or beyond) destinations. As I have mentioned in other blogs, Florence is in a prime position to be your base location for a huge range of day or weekend trips, so if that is your plan, proximity to the train station (also where the majority of buses depart from) may be important to you.
I’ll start with my hotel recommendations and then move on to my own run downs of each area so that, if you are looking for your own accommodations on sites like hotels.com or bookings.com where you can break down the city by area, you know which locations you may want to click and look into.
I have stayed in lots of places in Florence and have had some real hits and some real misses. These are just my hits =)
Piazza di Santa Maria Novella, 16, 50123 Firenze FI, Italy
Luxury Boutique Hotel - $$$
My absolute favourite hotel in the city is the Grand Hotel Minerva. Depending on the time of the year, the price definitely fluctuates and that is for one very simple reason - this...
Finding a hotel with a pool in the old town is rare and certainly one with a rooftop pool that looks out over the duomo like this. The rooms are spacious, very clean, well equipped with amenities and modern. The breakfast decor is seemingly inspired by Breakfast at Tiffanys and is matched with fresh, delicious foods and always a good spread of cakes. The lobby of the hotel is so pleasant to sit in that on our last stay there when we faced rain in the afternoons, we were happy to spend time relaxing in the beautiful lounge areas downstairs. But the pièce de résistance is unquestionably the pool and rooftop bar.
Via Vacchereccia, 3, 50122 Firenze FI, Italy
Short-Stay Suites/Apartments - $$
This hotel is in a great location, right in the heart of Piazza Della Signoria. As an apartment hotel, there are no extra areas or amenities outside of the room, however, that is made up for in spades within the room as the rooms are massive by Florence standards! This is definitely a fabulous option for families or for travellers who want a bit more space but still want to be in the heart of the city. Everything was modern and really clean as well. Really enjoyed my stay here - it was definitely comfortable and the location was top notch!
All around Florence
Short-Long Term Stays and Apartments of all Sizes - $-$$$$ (options)
Another option to consider, especially if you want to stay for a longer period of time in Florence is getting an apartment and Apartments Florence is a fabulous way to do that! I have rented an apartment from them once and they were at the doorstep on time, super helpful and came with local recommendations. It's a simpler, more local way to rent an apartment than air bnb with nearby assistance if you need it. My apartment from them was gorgeous and absolutely perfect for my needs. Getting an apartment is a great way to stay within budget as well. They have both short and long term stays so you definitely don’t need to be there for a long time to be able to take advantage of this great site.
Florence is in the perfect location to use it as a base from which to explore Italy - this is a perfect way to do just that.
Looking for More Lux? I have yet to stay there but there is a Four Seasons in Florence that is meant to be beautiful! There is also the Savoy in Piazza Della Repubblica.
Areas of the City
I've marked up a map below to show you the location of the areas I mention. The numbers correspond with the order in which each area is discussed.
Piazza Santa Maria Novella
For me, my personal favourite area to stay is around Piazza Santa Maria Novella through to Piazza Della Repubblica. This may be because my favourite accommodations in the city are in this area but it is also because I find that it is both easy to walk anywhere I want to go from here as it is so central, but also I have easy access to the train station (3-10 minute walk away depending on whether you choose the SMN or Repubblica area) and also to hiring a taxi when needed.
In my opinion, accommodations in this area offer the best of transport variety and therefore comfort, and, as I like to visit attractions like piazzale Michelangelo by taxi or go up to Fiesole by bus, for example, leave me close in a position to be able to do my favourite things with ease.
These areas also are home to lots of great restaurants including some on my flavours of florence list which I definitely recommend reading if you’re planning a trip (some restaurants in Florence need bookings so good to plan ahead). There is also a lot of shopping that can be done in this area if you’re interested.
There are a lot of nice hotels in this area and it is an area that will always come up as a selection on sites like hotels.com or bookings.com. Be careful that you are looking at the piazza when looking at SMN and not behind the train station - that area is often cheaper but not as nice for tourists. Many apartments can be booked in this area too.
Piazza Della Signoria
This is a really lively area with very close access to some of the main museums and the Ponte Vecchio, as well as a lot of shops (mostly now international commercial stores like H&M and the like, and sadly no longer the traditional leather and lace stores but you see the occasional one here and there). This area has some great hotels and some apartment style accommodations. Buildings can be older and taller here (well, anywhere in the old city) so be sure to check for features like elevators or air conditioning if you feel that either will be important to your stay.
This area is near Via Ghibellina which is a great street for restaurants and bars so you will be well fed if you walk just 5 mins from the centre of this piazza.
Transport to this area is mixed - to the centre of the piazza it is well catered for and you will be more than comfortable no matter your need for taxis, buses or preference for walking. The smaller side streets are mostly all accessible by car but are generally one way streets and so they may take time to reach by car.
Ps - this piazza has a replica statue of David outside (and a collection of other world famous statues and sculptures) so if you wanted to get a taste without necessarily visiting the museum or standing in the line, this may be the sneaky version just for you.
Piazza Santa Croce
I have never personally stayed in this area but with one of the main basillicas in the city, you can
be sure that this area is a major hub for tourism and activity. The area itself is really pretty and you can find some great restaurants and cafes nearby but it is a little further a walk from the other major piazzas (SMN, Repubblica, Signoria, Duomo) if you are looking for those wonderfully interconnecting streets that you simply get lost in and appear at another piazza. I would definitely consider staying here in the future.
Piazza Santo Spirito
Staying on the other side of the Arno definitely can decrease the cost of your accommodation and increase the ‘local feel’ of your stay. I know little about the hotels on this side of the Arno but having stayed in an apartment on that side, I can tell you that the streets quickly become very friendly when in the local parts. If you are there for work or, as I was, studying, and therefore are on a routine like the others around you, you can quickly become familiar with the others you pass daily - meeting people in the same local bakery or coffee shop daily and being greeted by a friendly ‘nonna’ or ‘nonno’ is a very special experience. Particularly if you are staying for a longer period, I would recommend moving over the river, or if you are looking for better priced accommodation, especially in Summer, try this area.
Piazza del Duomo
Probably going to be the most expensive option for often not the best quality BUT you will get extraordinary views of the duomo from many of the accommodations in this area. Personally, I would look beyond this area - what I’ve learned about Florence is that you will be hard pressed to go a day without seeing the duomo if you want to see it. So, save the money, or spend it but on getting a bigger or better room elsewhere and stay beyond this central piazza.
I have never stayed in the hills of Florence - up near Piazzale Michelangelo and of course, far far beyond, but I definitely would consider it. For me personally, when I wanted the Tuscan experience of staying in the hills, I went way outside of a city and stayed in the outskirts of Greve. That said, staying in the hills of Florence may offer that same tranquility of the rolling hills of beautiful Tuscany but with easy access to one of the best cities in the world (according to me) at night when you want to visit restaurants or if you want to see museums during the day.
The San Lorenzo Market Area
I am sure that there are very nice places to stay in this area. Unfortunately, I have not yet had that experience and whilst I would be keen to give it another try because it is such a cool area with so much hustle and bustle from the market below, the places I have stayed have unfortunately been very old and not in the quaint, charming way. Granted, when I stayed in these places I was very much on a student budget and these accommodations were what we could afford but unfortunately, it has tainted my experience of the area and my advice would be, if budget is going to play into your decision making for accommodation in Florence, don’t try the San Lorenzo Market area...there are some real misses in this area.
Wherever you stay, Florence is magical and I am sure that you will have a wonderful time!!
Looking for what to do in Florence? Have a read of my tips here.