Bernini Palace Hotel

Florence, Italy

One steps into the Romantic world of late 19th-century Italy in this five-star, centrally located boutique hotel. Civilized, operatic, sumptuous and eclectic – the Bernini Palace will appeal to those with a taste for chandeliers and swirling stucco, gold damask walls, satin-swathed beds and Belle Époque exotica.

Hotel Bernini Palace exudes all the lavish and eclectic elegance of the 1860s, when Florence bloomed as Italy's capital city. Already a hotel, this was the meeting point and residence for many distinguished parliamentarians, whose portraits look down on the impressive Sala Parlamento (now the hotel's breakfast room). The arcaded reception-lounge is an elaborate Neo-Classical affair in wedding-cake style, all piped with swirling white stucco (Piped, too, is the rather invasive 'lounge music' – out of keeping with the rest of the ambiance).

The 74 rooms are nothing but sumptuous. On the upper floors, you'll find crystal chandeliers, elaborately swathed windows, stuccoed and gold damask-lined walls. Furnishings include elegant Italian repro escritoires, fringed velvet chairs, silk bedheads, satin quilts and linen-weave sheets. Rooms on the front overlook the towers of the Bargello and Badia, and the great cupola of the Duomo. Most of the bathrooms are in white ceramic tiles, soon to be refurbished in Carrara marble. The Executive Tuscan Floor creates a fabulous chivalric world, with be-swagged and canopied Renaissance-style beds, studded-leather furnishings, Neo-Moorish lanterns, arabesques and arches. The fairytale continues with the evening turndown service which includes a quartet of 'Good Night Books' in fine embossed paper.