Via dei Conti is one of those dreamlike, narrow, gently curving streets in Florence’s Centro Storico. It is a compilation of outposts: a trattoria, a cafe, a warm and inviting vegan-ish restaurant, a vintage store, and a quintessential caffe. If we did not arrive by taxi at the exact address, we would have walked right by the nearly secretive Firenze Number Nine, an urban wellness hotel noted for its incredible fitness center and spa. Even after the first day, I found myself walking right by it. Swing open the wide glass door, step into the chic entrance room of the restored 17th century palace, and find yourself in the capable hands of Simone, an Yves Saint Laurent look-alike, complete with subdued manner, elegant eyewear, and a calming voice. The buzzy Centro Storico lay waiting for you on the other side of the glass, but for now, take a moment to re-center yourself inside this oasis in the heart of a sometimes frenzied city.
The staff are young, attentive, and excellently trained for their posts in luxury service. They speak in relaxed tones, they anticipate your every question and request, and due to the small and manageable size of the hotel, they give you their undivided attention. The mood is relaxed, however, and the hotel is set up so that guests feel as though they are at home with an added bonus of fantastic service. Wipe away the old-fashioned check-in desk; here is a more casual interaction, a concept that has become the norm in luxury hotels. I dare not use the word ‘lobby,’ which feels so dated and formal. Each time we returned to the property, we felt as though we were entering our own living room filled with friends and family.
Studio Pieratteli Architecture designed the hotel in 2012 with their signature focus on materials, shapes, transparency, and lightness, which altogether create a feeling of floating in space. The decor juxtaposes elements of the renaissance with the uber contemporary and modern. The entrance rooms are adorned in neutral colors and classic Florentine materials including stone and marble, harmonized with flowers, accented with pops of orange, and furnished with comfortable seating draped in deep purple and cream velvets. Floor to ceiling bookcases offer guests reading material sorted by category: viaggia, l’arte, etc. It is the perfect room to decompress after hours on one’s feet or while waiting for a companion.
The immaculate guest rooms are the most modern areas. Purple remains the accent color, with the rest of the room decorated in fresh, clean white. The bathrooms are a composition of dark gray tiles and white marble. If one is so lucky as to snag the penthouse suite, each traveler is rewarded with his or her own floor. Upstairs, the master bedroom is a spacious loft with a king size bed and an oversized bathroom. We quickly discovered that having separate bathrooms is truly the key to a successful vacation, (at the very least, separate sinks.)
Le Muse restaurant’s menu is a welcome respite from heavy Tuscan cooking, with innovative cuisine and even a few seafood options to choose from (seafood is quite difficult to find in Florence). The cocktails are an article in themselves; surely this one of the best cocktail bars in town with best mojito within a 100 mile radius. Non-alcoholic beverages are also worth raving about; the cappuccino at breakfast was outstanding. With the hotels’ focus on wellness, the organic and healthful breakfast items did not disappoint; a selection of seasonal fruit, yogurts, nuts, seeds, grains, and vegetable juices are always on offer, as well as plenty of savory items. The usual, ever so tempting homemade cakes and classic Florentine cornetti are omnipresent as well, certamente.
Attached to the hotel is an expansive fitness center with every modern exercise equipment that one would wish to find in a London or New York City fitness center, as well as yoga and pilates classes. The Arya Spa offers an endless array of organic, all natural treatments and massages, as well as basics like manicures and pedicures. Downstairs, guests can take advantage of Firenze Number Nine’s urban spa and fitness center. The exclusive wellness spa is complete with a sauna, a bio sauna, turkish bath, and whirlpool, perfect for rejuvenating weary feet and muscles after a day of wandering in the center.