St Regis Florence - an Exclusive Review
Situated at the north end of the River Arno and opposite its sister hotel, the Westin Excelsior, the magnificent St Regis Florence with its super-grand guest rooms at this fifteenth-century former palace on the Piazza Ognissanti does not fail to captivate. This is luxury at its finest and you cannot get a better authentic luxury experience than this in Florence.
My wife and I had just completed staying two nights at the Westin Excelsior and so were very much looking forward to trying out the Royal Suite at the St Regis. The good thing about both properties being part of the Starwoods group is that they do share some aspects - when we checked out of the Westin Excelsior, concierge helped us to effortlessly take our luggage to the St Regis. Even though both the Westin Excelsior and the St Regis are both part of the same group of hotel companies, they do differ slightly.
The St Regis has a more grand feeling to it. Artwork, custom frescoes, antiques, crystal chandeliers, and warm hues decorate all the 100 rooms and suites. Our Royal Suite had a river view room- you just cannot miss the superb sweep up-river toward the Ponte Vecchio. For those of us who are into their fashion there’s the austere Bottega Veneta suite; other rooms are more Florentine-classic with city-themed murals in some. The St Regis Florence is a firm favourite with many celebs, including Kim Kardashian, who according to our butler stayed in the same Royal Suite for a few days during her visit to Florence.
Upon arrival into our suite, my wife and I were greeted with a lovely bottle of fine Marleo red wine and an eye-watering display of macaroons - some welcome gifts signed by the hotel manager.
What really distinguishes this hotel from the others is the signature full butler service, which includes an eButler feature that allows guests to send e-mail requests around the clock. The butlers here really know how to delight the guests. On one of the evenings as we returned back to our Suite after a day of sightseeing, we were gobsmacked to see our bed decorated with a pictorial recommendation by the butler- this was in addition to the traditional turndown service.
As mentioned above, location wise you cannot go wrong with the St Regis. The hotel is around 10-15 minutes walking distance from the main railway station. If you have heavy luggage then it is of course suggested to take a taxi, but other than that even if you have a medium sized luggage then you can easily walk along the cobbled streets to the station. Within minutes you can also walk to the Uffizi, Ponte Vecchio, and the Duomo, all must-see spots in Florence. My wife and I enjoyed trying out some of the local eateries near the central market, which actually offers better options than some of the high-end restaurants in the city. While the Piazza del Duomo tends to be heavily congested with tourists, we also enjoyed taking a stroll down the less crowded streets checking out the small shops and restaurants. You can never go wrong in Florence.
Food lovers must try the upscale Winter Garden by Caino restaurant, located inside an elegant glassed-in courtyard. The chefs here are true creative geniuses - it is highly recommended that you try the breakfast here during one of the mornings of your stay. The restaurant showcases Tuscany’s flavors; take a tasting session in the wine cellar, created from an actual cave. We also had in-room breakfast, which is another key selling point of the Royal Suite, as you can indulge in scrumptious cuisine while admiring the nice views.
Then there are the minor but important features that make all the big differences to ones stay, such as the butler remembering your dining choices and preferences and house-keeping knowing what side of the bed you sleep on or what type of pillow you prefer. Lovely touches also include tea by Dammann Freres, bathroom amenities by Acqua di Parma, preserves by Schianchi, yogurt for breakfast by Sterzing Vipiteno and all food served on fine bone china by Richard Ginori. The guest service is absolute first class, and the staff are always there for any of your needs while at the same they respect privacy (like in some cultures from my experience, the staff can be too over the top when it comes to being friendly and helpful). We'll be back for sure.
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