Today, our ‘My Favourite Hotel’ review is from Villa Cora in Florence,
We are currently running this reader-written feature to provide some positivity and inspiration to Head for Points. We hope to run one review per day for the next few weeks. There will be a deliberate mix of European and worldwide properties, super luxury and mid market, branded and independent. You can find all of the ‘My Favourite Hotel’ reviews so far by clicking here.
Today’s hotel review is of Villa Cora in Florence.
Villa Cora is reader Helena’s favourite hotel and here is her review:
When I book a city break, I usually go for a central hotel, walkable to everything, with a decent standard but nothing special because you’re planning to be out most of the time. And this was my plan for a trip to Florence last July.
But every time I tried to book somewhere, I heard a whisper from every social media travel group I’m part of: “Villa Cora, Villa Cora, Villa Cora”. When I tried to ignore it, it only got louder. So I stopped trying to fight the inevitable.
Villa Cora is an 18th century villa just outside Florence converted in to a 42 room luxury boutique hotel. It is breathtaking – honestly the loveliest hotel experience I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few.
It’s not at all stuffy. The staff are so friendly, super-efficient and responsive, remember your name and your drink preferences and genuinely can’t do enough for you. They seem to love the place as much as you will.
Booking Villa Cora
At this point I must give a huge shout out to Emyr Thomas at Bon Vivant Travel – a small online business that specialises in luxury hotel bookings. I heard about him through Head for Points (Rob has partnered with him to offer a booking service to readers) and he is the one you HAVE to book with. He price matched any other quote I got, we didn’t pay a penny until we checked out and best of all, he’s a member of the Virtuoso Group which entitled us to:
- A room upgrade if available – it was and we were upgraded to a deluxe room with stunning views of Florence
- Free breakfasts for our stay – worth a lot. Breakfast here – not to be missed – was about €35 pp per day
- $100 to use against food and drink
- A gift – a beautiful bottle of olive oil
- Early check in and late check out if available. It wasn’t for us, but it didn’t matter a lot.
Where is Villa Cora?
From Hotel Villa Cora it is about a 30-minute walk into downtown Florence – uphill on the way back and not much fun in 36-degree heat. They have a posh car to take you in and out of the city centre if you want it, which is available between 9am and 1pm and 3pm and 9pm.
You can’t book it in advance, you just phone down when you want it. The longest we had to wait for it was 15 minutes.
Outside of those hours they call you a cab and it’s there within 2 minutes.
The Villa Cora also has lots of parking if you brought a car.
Rooms at Villa Cora
Our room was gorgeous. It didn’t really have any more than any deluxe room – large bed, desk area, chairs, oodles of wardrobe space, safe, mini bar, opulent bathroom with bath and cavernous shower:
….. but the fixtures are ornate and un-hotel like. You feel like you’re on the set of a period drama. I can’t imagine that any of the rooms here are bad.
When you return to your bedroom in the evening the turndown service has placed slippers by your bedside, chocolates and mini meringues on your pillow and a 25-year-old Florentine hottie in your bed. Only joking. The chocolates were on the dressing table ….
The spa changing facilities are opulent, the staff carry your bags around for you and hang up your clothes to avoid creasing and I think they’d have carried me around if I’d asked.
The pool area is just beautiful and the staff won’t let you lift a finger. There’s a bar and restaurant, plenty of seating and the large pool is heated all year round. There’s an adjacent spa with indoor plunge pool, jacuzzi, sauna, treatment rooms and changing rooms.
After your 9-course breakfast they worry you might be a little bit peckish so they bring round complimentary pizza in the late morning and gelato in the mid-afternoon. “No need to exit the pool Mrs S. Stay there and we’ll pass it to you.”
Drinks are pricey but beautifully presented with nuts, crisps and olives.
Breakfast is nothing less than a royal banquet. Everything you could ever want and loads more just to be frivolous. There’s even a separate room for the cake buffet.
It’s mostly cold food as per usual in Italy but oh the choice. Stunning fresh fruit, chargrilled veg and sheets of smoked salmon. And loads more. Every type of hot and cold beverage made specially for you and brought to your table on the terrace with views of stunning Firenze. You can order extras from the kitchen – various egg concoctions, waffles and pancakes. But they cost extra and are unnecessary. Unnecessary for them to charge and unnecessary for you to order. 167 cold items not enough for you??
Lunch is served around the pool and you can go posh in the restaurant, more informal on the terrace or just have it at your sunbed. We sampled tuna Niçoise salad, vegetarian club sandwiches and the fruit platter. All delicious.
We didn’t have dinner at Villa Cora. The menu looked beautiful but there’s almost nothing for non-meat eaters and with starters coming in at around €40 it seemed a bit unnecessary. Anyway we preferred to enjoy the delights of Florence in the evenings. I’m sure though, like everything at Villa Cora, dinner is delectable.
Other than that there is an indoor bar, a 5th floor roof terrace and numerous beautiful sitting rooms.
All good things must come to an end. With our credit card weeping real tears we left Villa Cora after hugs from the staff who sent us off with a Villa Cora branded bag and bottles of water and sweets for a great long taxi journey to airport, about 15 minutes away.
It isn’t cheap to stay here. In July 2019 we paid £550 a night for the room plus breakfast, so was it worth it? Hell yeah! Arrivederchi Villa Cora – until next time.
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