Stanley Moss is impressed with two of Italy’s finest, steeped in history and professionalism: in Firenze, the Hotel Brunelleschi, where ‘No’ does not exist in the property’s vocabulary; and in Milano, the Hotel Baglioni Carlton, with its dependable service and impeccable location
photographed by Paula Sweet
from issue 36 of Lucire
Stanley Moss is travel editor of Lucire.
‘No does not exist’
It’s tough to name another hotel where, at the moment you check in under the Premium Programme, you are introduced to an individual with the alluring job title of Suite Ambassador. This particular event definitely happens at Firenze’s Hotel Brunelleschi where the polymath polyglot Paulus makes you feel instantly welcome to what he calls a ‘house with a heart.’ At 86 rooms, 10 of them suites, the Brunelleschi can’t really be described as a boutique property. Yet the hotel successfully delivers on the promise with an uncrowded and personalized vibe. It’s deceptively quiet and calm for a place of such capacity, the majority of guests from the US and the UK, staying an average of two to three nights. In operation for 35 years, the rooms are new, up-to-date and state-of-the-art. It could also explain why the Brunelleschi is a favourite destination for medium-sized corporate meetings—a spacious function room comfortably hosts up to 100, but you hardly know it’s there.
The keywords to this elegant five-star are history, service and location. Built on Roman foundations, its façade preserves an Ottoman-era tower—the oldest in Firenze—dating from the eighth century, which integrates seamlessly with the modern wings. Many Florentine hotels celebrate the city’s connection with art, but few have such a direct attachment to the living history of the city. The Brunelleschi even maintains a subterranean museum for serious time-travelling back to the Roman era. The past, if not in the walls, is always directly under your feet.
The hotel’s optimal location can’t be beat. Step out the front door, make a fast left turn and you’re on the main shopping avenue. Everything wonderful within walking distance.
Paulus says that ‘no’ does not exist at the Brunelleschi, and having tested the claim Lucire can vouch that the statement is a true one. Service was uniformly helpful, positive, attentive.
Kudos to the breakfast options, twists on classics at good prices: two dining rooms with opulent buffet choice, one with a striking view of the Liberty Lounge’s vintage leaded glass windows, and the amazing private dining Santa Elizabetta room for Premium Programme guests in the Pagliazza Tower. The intimate space seats only 20 people, and in the evenings doubles as the hotel’s fine dining room. There you need to taste the Osteria’s flambé selections, where maître d’ Demetrios hovers at a discreet distance, attentive to your every need. The service aspect continues throughout the Premium Programme which includes champagne, macarons, private breakfast, ironing, shoeshine, packing help, flowers, finest-grade linens and custom amenities. Paulus will even find you a hot air balloon. Mention needs to made about the American Bar where bar ambassador Beata mixes a picture perfect cosmopolitan with a twist: the critical ingredient (besides utter professionalism) is spirits from Sicilia: well worth a try.
Upstairs, consider the Pagliazza Tower Suite no. 415, two levels, two baths, circular bed, spiral stairs, facing the Duomo. It has an outdoor Jacuzzi on a private terrace. We could go on with a longer list of super details, but internet searching on in-room televisions lends an added window into the present day. If that sounds like a mystery out of a Dan Brown book, you can always ask your kids how it works.
An ever-reliable beloved friend
There’s no better news than to rediscover a place time and again, which upholds the standards of excellence, service and personality like Milano’s Hotel Baglioni Carlton. Lucire checked in for an update in January 2016. What’s not to love about this delirious five-star with its always-gracious welcome, world-class team, and private portal opening onto the via della Spiga? Walking distance from the best shopping in Milano, an easy stroll to the Duomo, surrounded by stratospheric restaurant choices, The Carlton can’t be compared to other properties. It’s a well-established watering hole whose public spaces are ideal for business meetings. The incomparable Il Baretto Al Baglioni remains one of the consistently great dining experiences in the city. And familiar faces like Concierge Lino and barman Maurizio make every interaction a pleasure, akin to warm reunions with old and dear friends. Familiar details abound, all reflecting the Baglioni brand’s incomparable eye for Italian style. Hot tip: room service breakfast at the Carlton always a brilliant way to ease into your day. •
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