Where to stay in Florence

A 15th-century Franciscan monastery overlooking the town versus an upmarket B&B five minutes from the Ponte Vecchio.

Villa San Michele

You would struggle to find a more historic and beautiful hotel in the world. Villa San Michele is a 15th-century Franciscan monastery situated on a wooded hillside overlooking Florence. The building's impressive faade is thought to have been designed by Michelangelo himself.

How they rate it

The views are "far-reaching, achingly romantic and visible from just about anywhere in the hotel", says Francisca Kellett in The Daily Telegraph. You look out over terraced gardens, which lead to gentle wooded slopes "rolling down to Florence, which in turn is backed by the hazy hills of Tuscany". The original building is "fascinating", with restored frescoes of the Last Supper dating from 1602. The rooms are "understated" and garden suites have private terraces hedged in by laurel and lemon trees.

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The menu

The Loggia Restaurant at the hotel is "one of the finest in Florence" serving traditional Tuscan food. Dishes include a fillet of turbot in a rosemary crust.

The cost

Room prices start from €550 a night including breakfast and one daily meal. Find out more at www.villasanmichele.com or call 00 39 055 567 8200.



This upmarket bed and breakfast has only four rooms, but it competes with the best of Florence in style terms. There are huge, atmospheric black-and-white photographs of old Florence, lacquered black floorboards and aluminium four-poster beds. If you still think a B&B involves kitsch furniture and a curfew, Floroom will quickly change your mind.

How they rate it

Floroom would fit "confidently into the pages of an interiors magazine", says Lee Marshall in Conde Nast Traveller. "It crams a great deal of style into a limited space." But it's not just the design that will impress you. "There are generous breakfasts, free all-day drinks and gourmet nibbles." As for the location, it "could hardly be bettered", on a quiet lane in the Oltarno district five minutes from the Ponte Vecchio. When booking try to get room 2, "it is the most light-filled and looks out over a sweet little piazza".

The menu

Floroom doesn't have a restaurant. Breakfast is a delicious, traditional Tuscan affair with food brought fresh from the local food markets.

The cost

A double room at Floroom costs from €140 per night. For more information visit www.floroom.com or call 00 39 05 5230 2462.

What the travel writers are saying

Spain has long been at the forefront of modern architecture, something which is reflected in its hotels. Harriet Pearce has rounded up the country's best-designed hotels in The Independent. Hotel Viura in Rioja was designed to resemble a bunch of grapes, "but could be mistaken for a jumble of colourful boxes". The warm interior evokes the "vinous theme with purple and burgundy velvets contrasting with pale stone and wine barrels suspended from the restaurant ceiling". A double room costs from €125, room only (Hotelviura.com).

The Marqus de Riscal hotel in Elciego is situated in one of Rioja's oldest wineries, but it is "also one of the most modern". The lodge is designed by Frank Gehry and the unorthodox design "rises from the vines like a flutter of ribbons in the wind". The hotel spa specialises in "wine therapy" treatments. A double room starts at €315, B&B (Hotel-marquesderiscal.com).

Eme Catedral Hotel in Seville is set in a collection of traditional homes. However, the look is still "entirely contemporary" with dark Moorish-style latticework, mood-lit walls and glass floors revealing Roman ruins and a tapas bar. Double rooms cost from €180, room only (Emecatedralhotel.com).